Tag: "data breach"

Cyber Insurance Cost Examples – Equifax

The data breach at Equifax sent shockwaves throughout the Internet, and throughout the financial community generally. This is in large part is because of the huge amount of sensitive data that all credit rating agencies hold on individuals, and the fairly natural assumption that data is kept safe.

According to CNN, the breach involved the theft of personal data of approximately 145,000,000 people, and the theft was only revealed two months after it happened.

Whilst the delay in revealing the theft was not as long as that of Yahoo or some other companies, two months is still a huge time in terms of the risk of identity theft. With the breach of Equi the risk of identity theft is probably as strong as it possibly could be, and any delay is potentially hugely important.

Equifax Data

All the main credit rating agencies potentially hold a huge amount of personal and financial information on  millions of people worldwide.  Their role is to provide an accurate assessment of an individual’s creditworthiness, that can give a value to document to any bank or financial student looking to lend them money or any type of credit.

Anyone applying for any type of credit or loan  will have had their application assessed and determined on the basis of a credit score/credit report which will have been prepared by a company such as Equifax

In preparing such a report, Equifax would collect a significant amount of data on an individual. Such information would normally include their name, the date of birth, address, their telephone number, that Social Security number or their social insurance number, their drivers license details, their passport and their current and previous employers.

They would also look at the individuals credit history. This would include information relating to payment history of any credit loan or arrangement, the use of current available credit to them, the length of their credit history, the number of enquiries they have made regarding obtaining credit, and the type of credit they use this frequently.

Their financial history would also be looked at. This would involve obtaining information from public records regarding things such as bankruptcy. Also look at their banking history regarding overdrafts, bounced checks and any closed accounts.

They will also look at things such as loans, mortgages, lines of credit, store cards and credit cards and worst of all payday loans.

Anyone looking at this type of report would realise pretty quickly that the amount of information held on an individual by a credit bureau is massive.

Not only in the size and scale of it, but in the scope that it provides for identity theft. The fact that there could be a breach to the extent that there was highlights the enormity of the type of centralisation of this information.

Equifax Breach Causes

According to CNN, Equifax blamed the breach on one single individual, advising Congress that this individual had subsequently been fired !   It is perhaps more scary that a breach of this size and scale could have been effected by one individual.

Any cyber security policy that is meant to protect this type and scale of data has surely got to have some type of safeguards built in,  so that any individual doesn’t have either this type of responsibility for this type of power on their own

Cyber Insurance Cost Examples – Yahoo Data Breach

Yahoo provides one of the best examples of the enormity and severity of what can happen with a data breach. Although a few years old, Yahoo suffered three data breaches which were only reported two or three years after they happened.

Estimates of accounts breached ranged from 500 million through to every single one of the accounts. The information that was lost or accessed included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, passwords and sometimes encrypted security questions and answers.

Someone at Yahoo tried to make the point that at least no credit cards or credit card numbers were accessed, but that is in many ways fairly irrelevant.

The importance of the Yahoo breach focuses on several certain areas.

Firstly is the issue of when and how Yahoo reported the breach.

Any delay in letting people know that the information has been accessed by someone who should not have a right to it increases the chance of that information being used for any criminal purpose such as identity theft.

Tracing and reporting and trying to undertake identity theft is a hugely complex process. Anyone who has suffered it will tell of the enormous difficulties they face in trying to prove that they are not the person that someone else has said they are.

Identity Theft

Anyone trying to prove identity theft will find it difficult to prove where the other person got the information from, especially if it was two or three years previous.

Any company who experiences a data breach has a moral as well as normally a regulatory duty to disclose information to whoever has been affected by the breach as soon as possible. The danger is that any company is going to be afraid of the reputational damage at acknowledging such a breach is likely to cause.

This is one reason why most cyber insurance policies include some provision to pay for a PR company some description to help manage the fallout and restore some type of reputational credibility.

Even if a company such as Yahoo is taken to task by any regulatory authority for not disclosing a breach earlier,  in many ways the damage has already been done.

The other main issue that a data breach at companies such as Yahoo highlights, or perhaps the question it raises, is anyone safe. This question is almost the most important one that can be asked.

It is not about Yahoo’s technology systems or their cyber governance policies. It is about the fact that Yahoo is one of the oldest and was one of the most respected technology companies since the foundation of the Internet, and if they can be breached and hacked to this extent then presumably anyone can.

The breach at Yahoo is not about whether they have the most secure IT systems almost. It is almost more about the credibility of the Internet, and a sense of whether or not a technology company of its stature should be able to be breached, and if they are probably dealt with it.

What is Cyber Insurance and What does it Cover?

Cyber Insurance is a dedicated insurance policy, that provides both financial cover and practical help to anyone who has been victim of a cyber crime. At the moment, this type of policy is mainly aimed purely at businesses and organisations, of all sizes, any of whom could be vulnerable to a cyber attack or a data breach.

This is likely to change significantly in the near future as more and more areas of people’s individual lives are becoming vulnerable to Cyber attacks, such as their cars and their homes,  and the whole nature of cyber insurance will have to evolve to deal with these threats.

This is likely to mean that either people’s home insurance or their car insurance will have to start covering the risks of a cyber attack, or cyber insurance policies will have to evolve themselves to cover these areas.

Cyber Insurance and Indemnity

Insurance companies talk about indemnity, which is an important concept to understand. It means that the insurance policy is designed to put the insured in the same position as they were before the loss happened.

With regard to cyber insurance this means that not only is there financial protection included as part of the insurance policy, but the insurance policy  should also cover practical areas of help, such as lawyers, I.T. technicians etc. Some cyber insurance policies do include these extra areas of help, and some don’t.

Deciding what type of cyber insurance policy to buy is often determined by how much additional help is available, in the policy, in the event of a data breach, and quite often the cost will reflect this.

Cyber Crime

Cyber crime is considered one of the, if not the fastest growing area of criminal activity, and is widely evolving and quickly changing. This makes keeping up with an understanding of current threats more difficult, but there are a number of specific areas that need to be understood.

Cyber crime normally refers to a situation where information or data has been stolen from an individual or an organisation, normally known as a data breach, and there is either some financial loss as a result, some reputational damage, or something such as a ransom demand to release a computer or network that has been encrypted by a third party hacker.

Cyber Insurance Policy Cover

These are the basics of what good cyber insurance policy can offer,  although as said above, policy cover will differ significantly between insurance companies.

Incident Management Team

This is a general term for a team of specialists who can effectively take over and oversee the management of any claim as soon as there is a known reporting of a cyber crime. This can include the paying of any ransom demand,  and the restoration of any I.T. systems that have been breached as a result.

This support team  should be able to investigate the data breach, find out how it happened, restore any computer systems to full integrity, notify any clients or customers that the data breach has happened and it’s implications, and notify any relevant regulatory or statutory bodies that need to be told.

The incident management team should also include a legal team, a company that can offer access to a credit monitoring system to help with the risk of identity theft, a PR company who can help with reputational damage, and a specialist who can negotiate in the event of a kidnapping demand for a time of information or ransomware.

The Cyber Insurance Policy  will also need to have a significant financial indemnity cover, which may be needed to pay any ransom demand, loss of income  or business interruption, any type of cyber extortion or criminal activity. and any costs needed to repair the infrastructure of the computer or network system involved.

Who is at Risk ?

People often tend to associate cybercrime with big companies such as Facebook or Sony, or with governments, as data breaches that affect them tend to be the ones that get the most publicity.

In fact anyone who owns a computer that is linked to a network of any type is potentially at risk.

This applies to people who have a computer connected to the internet in their own home, as well as any computer they may use at work, it also applies to any smartphone that they may have, and quite soon will apply to the car they drive and the washing machine and refrigerator in their home as well.

Whilst it is difficult to predict trends in this area,  there is quite a lot of anecdotal evidence that cyber criminals are increasingly targeting normal everyday people for relatively small amounts of money, through various types of ransomware and threats, as well as big companies and corporations.

It is very easy to scare people into giving away small amounts of money, relatively, and in some ways this can be much more cost effective from the criminals point of view. From the point of view of the person who has experienced the crime, they are like his feel as violated as if they had either been physically attacked or their home had been broken into.

The Internet of Things

There is often reference nowadays to the internet of things, normally in the context of how it is going to change everyone’s life within the next 5 years.

What it is really referring to is that virtually every device that is not being produced is being given a wireless capability so that it can connect to the internet, as well as connecting to other devices in the home or office.

This means that anything from a refrigerator or an oven, through to a baby alarm or your car can connect to the internet and speak to other devices. There is a huge area of debate about the implications of this regarding privacy and other things,  although what is absolutely clear is that it is going to present a huge potential risk of cybercrime.

Companies love the idea of be able to connect their devices or products to the internet and other devices, and the rush to do so and get them to market often means that the security capabilities are not as carefully thought through as they should be, and that software updates are not issued or installed automatically as they should be either.

Some people like the idea of a smart home or office, other people find the idea pretty horrible. Either way in the next few years virtually everything that every individual owns or uses is likely to have the capability of connecting to the internet wirelessly.

This has huge security implications,  and is an iisue the insurance industry has not fully caught up with them. This means that most people standard home or auto insurance policy is vague about its cover in this area, and people could be left in limbo as to whether or not they are covered for any data breach that happens in their own home.

Identity Theft

The risk of identity theft has been around for some time, but with the growth of cyber crime and the amount of personal information that is shared online and through smartphones means that the risk of identity theft is probably now greater than ever.

From an insurance point of view, some home insurance policies do already provide some degree of cover for identity theft, either as part of the policy or add an additional section that can be bought at  extra cost.

The problem with the existing level of cover is that all it really does is help provide access to additional levels of credit checks and a few other useful but not really that important areas of restitution.

What most identity theft insurance protection does not do is actually help the person recover any loss that may have been incurred as a result of their identity having been stolen.

What tends to happen is that a person will have their identity stolen, and then the criminal will use that  person’s identity to obtain bank loans or credit cards or other financial benefits in that person’s name, and then run.

When  the original person discovers that their identity has been stolen and fraudulently used,  the anecdotal evidence is that most banks and other institutions are relatively unsympathetic, and the onus is on the individual to prove that they did not take out the loan or credit card etc.

This  is where an insurance policy could probably help,  but at the moment there seems to be little by way of practical benefit that most policies offer. This  may well need to change with the growth of cybercrime and cyber insurance.

Cyber Bullying

It  is worth flagging up cyber bullying as being a major element of cyber crime,  although it is not often thought of as such because the bullying tends to be emotional rather than financial.

The consequences of cyber bullying can be devastating for individuals and families, and whilst there may not be an awful lot that an insurance policy can do, the overall approach to cyber security can have a hugely beneficial effect in terms of minimising the effect of bullying, and taking steps to deal with its perpetrators.

Liability Insurance

Many  companies and organisations believe that they already have enough  cyber security insurance under different levels of liability insurance that they have already taken out. These types of insurance policies can include product liability insurance, errors and omissions insurance  or simply a public liability insurance policy.

In truth, they are unlikely to have sufficient cover, and any cover they do have is likely to be financial only, and not include any incident management team as specified above.

One of the problems is that there a lot of companies and organisations who do not have a sufficient cyber governance program, and therefore do not take cyber security as seriously as perhaps they should.

Cyber Governance

This is the name given to any structure within a company or organisation, which should represent best practice for establishing policies and procedures that both minimise the risk of, and deal with any data breach  that may occur within the company.

It can be thought of as similar to a risk management structure,  and depending upon the size and structure of the business, should have a dedicated board member partner who has specific responsibility all aspects of cyber security.

This position does not have to be a person  who has a lot of technical knowledge of computers,  but needs to be someone who can implement a policy which includes both technical and non-technical assessments of cyber security risks and how best to deal with them.

What is an IoT Platform

In order to understand an IOT platform, it is first necessary to understand what IOT means, both literally and in terms of its implications for the future world, both business and personal in the next five or 10 years.

IOT stands quite simply for the Internet of things.

This is a phrase that has been around for a long time, but is rapidly coming to fruition and is likely to dominate the way people, places and things communicate with each other in the future.

The internet of things is quite simply in a way the process of  how devices are wirelessly connected to each other, producing what is quite often referred to as areas such as a smart home or a smart car.

The scenario of a smart home has been around for a while in the realms of science fiction, but is now becoming a reality.

All household devices are being fitted with sensors that will allow them to be wirelessly connected to the Internet.

In addition cities are being fitted with sensors that will allow them to track cars, bicycles and all forms of  transportation.

The clothes that people wear, the food they eat, where they live, where they work, how they get to work, where they do their shopping, where they go on holiday, how they pay for their life etc will soon all be linked together online.

IOT PLATFORM

To many people this seems like a joyful existence, to many others a living nightmare. In either event the networked world will soon become a reality whether people like it or not, driven in large part by businesses and companies .

They will be to make huge savings by effectively automating a number of processes, and by ruthlessly mining  big data, which is essentially the information that will be generated by all these devices talking to each other.

And IOT platform is essentially a platform that will allow this to happen. There are currently estimated to be 3 or 400 IOT platforms, some proprietary, some open source and some big players such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft.

At the moment and IOT platform can mean different things to different people.

The development of these platforms has been compared to the growth of the Internet in its early stages, where Netscape and Microsoft tried to establish dominance of browsers and  Yahoo and Altavista tried to dominate the search market.

At the moment it is most impossible to identify specifically what an IOT platform is for this particular reason. As time goes on and devices develop, the infrastructure will inevitably grow around them.

What is Credit Monitoring?

Credit monitoring is widely associated with the process of credit reports and credit scores, and normally with the process of a loan application for a new car or a mortgage.

It has also been loosely associated with the process of identity theft, not so much as a preventative measure but as a way of helping people deal with any type of identity theft that may have occurred.

Identity theft is already quite well understood by people,  but is one of those areas of life that people very definitely believe happens to other people not to themselves.

There is a real likelihood that this will change significantly over next  few years, and the need for credit monitoring at a significantly improved level may become a major part of  people’s lives.

Identity theft happens when an individual or individuals unknown octane information about someone else that effectively allows them to steal their identity, and take out loans and mortgages in their name which they then  default on and abscond with the money.

The original individual is then left with these debts in their name, and often faces  an uphill struggle to prove that it was not them that took out these loans in the first  place.

The risk of identity theft is likely to increase hugely as the risk of a data breach in many organisations increases significantly.

As data breaches occur, primarily but not exclusively in the healthcare industry, identity theft will increase substantially.

CREDIT MONITORING

This in part is because the information stolen is unique to the individual, such as their date of birth and Social Security number. This information cannot be changed in the way that a credit card number can be.

At the moment there is relatively little protection for the individual if their  identity is stolen. Some home insurance policies offer identity theft protection, but this normally relates to some type of credit monitoring to make the individual aware that this has happened to them.

That is relatively little help by way of helping the individual proof that the theft has happened and that the debts they are now facing  were in fact run up by someone else.

There is a likelihood that credit monitoring will need to be improved significantly different ways in order to act as a much greater first line of defence both for the individual concerned, and for any organisation or business where the data breach led to that information being stolen in the first race.