As news broke of one of the biggest information hacks in history, Equifax became the new face of insufficient cyber security. The breach now serves as a cautionary tale for businesses everywhere. Most cyber attacks focus on small businesses, as they are often easier to hack into due to deficient cyber security. Larger businesses are harder to penetrate as they can afford to invest in the best cyber security available.
However, as Equifax is learning the hard way, investing in cyber security does not mean businesses do not need cyber liability insurance. Equifax has several insurance policies covering cyber security, general liability, crime, and much more. However, untangling which policy will payout for the hack will take time, and the coverage is likely not going to be enough to account for the expense.
Cyber liability insurance is not the only policy plaguing Equifax. Their property and business interruption insurance is likely inadequate to compensate for the losses they are encountering and will experience in the coming weeks. They are also contending with investigations at the state and federal level as well as a potential multi billion-dollar class action lawsuit.
Understanding the Breach
Hackers were able to achieve such a massive breach by taking advantage of a U.S. website application weakness. Equifax discovered the breach in late July and immediately engaged a cyber security firm to halt the attack. However, the breach began several months prior and accessed up to 143 million individuals’ private information. Equifax also commissioned the firm to discover what data the hackers compromised and how to prevent such an attack in the future. In the meantime, Equifax created a website to allow individuals to determine if the breach included their personal information. Equifax is also offering free credit monitoring for a year.
In the aftermath of the breach, many are wondering why Equifax’s cyber liability coverage is insufficient. It comes down to risk retention. It is a risk management technique where a company plans to accept certain losses. Some examples include high deductibles or not investing in insurance on purpose. However, Equifax’s situation is more complicated. What insurance policies and how much coverage they choose varies depending on availability, cost, and perceived threats. The attackers struck during a period of insufficient coverage as part of Equifax’s risk retention strategy.
Assessing and Addressing Cybersecurity Risks
Business owners need to evaluate their cyber security situation and manage any gaps in their coverage. Even if a business owner believes their coverage is sufficient, they need to reevaluate their policy from time to time. For example, many business owners believe their business liability insurance protects them in the event of a cyber attack, but this is often not the case. In addition, business owners need to adjust insurance policies as technology changes and businesses grow to ensure they have sufficient coverage.
Understanding Cyber Threats
The latest buzzword related to cybersecurity is breach, but that is not the only type of cyber threat businesses face. Below are some of the most common cyber threats business owners may encounter.
- Data breach. Data breaches, such as the one Equifax is dealing with, happen after a security measure fails. Hackers access private data such as credit card numbers or social security numbers and use them without permission. Businesses that lose their customers’ data face high penalties, investigations, and more.
- Hackers use this type of attack to target smaller businesses. They install malware onto a company’s devices and demand payment to remove it.
- Third party data. This scenario applies whether your business handles a third party’s information or if your business engages a vendor to handle sensitive data. For example, if your business hires another company to safeguard sensitive data, cyber policies will still payout if hackers compromise the company.
The best way for businesses to protect themselves from cyber risks is to discuss their insurance options with an expert. The Reilly Company can help businesses assess and mitigate cyber risks as well as secure the best coverage pricing for policies. No business is impervious to cyber attacks; to learn more about protecting your company from cyber threats, contact us today.