Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Cyber Risk & Data Breach Insurance

Cyber Risk, Data Breach, Cyber Insurance


With data breaches occurring on a weekly basis, cyber security has consistently ranked among the top risk concerns for executives over the past few years. And cyber criminals are only becoming more sophisticated with intrusions becoming more frequent. While there is no substitute for a strong cyber framework and security controls, cyber liability insurance often serves as an organizations last line of defense when all else fails. However cyber policies are often misunderstood.


Simply put, cyber risk insurance (also known as data breach insurance) provides protection for cyber risk and cyber related events. Data breaches and theft of personal information are simply one segment of cyber risk, there are many. Cyber policies provide 2 main coverage components. The first component is first party coverage, which is essentially balance sheet protection – the organization suffers financial damage such as lost income, an extortion demand, required notification costs (or credit monitoring costs), or network/data restoration costs, and the insurer reimburses the company for the damages sustained. The second coverage component is third party coverage, which provides defense costs (attorney’s fees), damages, and settlements for claims and lawsuits that result from errors and security failures (among other incidents). These damages can result from employee or privacy violations, transmission of a virus to another party or in the form of a regulatory action, to name a few. Cyber policies can either be purchased as a basic endorsement added onto a general liability policy, providing limited coverage, or they can be purchased as a stand-alone policy which provides significantly broader coverage. When purchasing a stand-alone policy, companies can select their coverages of interest in order to match their risk profile. Available insuring agreements include.

◈ NETWORK SECURITY & PRIVACY LIABILITY: This agreement provides coverage for defense costs, damages, and expenses arising from theft or improper disclosure of confidential information in your care, custody or control (or in the custody of a cloud provider). Contrary to what many companies think, that data is not limited to credit cards and social security numbers, it also includes employee information (such as tax forms), health information, and corporate confidential information such as intellectual property and financial data. The data also also does not always have to be in digital form and stolen by hackers, a privacy incident may arise from paper records being improperly disposed of. In fact, human error accounts for a large percentage of privacy incidents. Lastly, coverage can also be included for failing to disclose a breach and claims related to improper privacy policies or data collection practices.

◈ MEDIA LIABILITY: A form of coverage for advertising and publishing injury, this insurance provides defense costs and damages for claims asserting copyright infringement and negligent publication of media (among others) while publishing content online and via social media channels.

◈ ERRORS AND OMISSIONS (E&O): While not included in all cyber policies, some carriers include an E&O insurance component which provides coverage for financial damages sustained by third parties (such as clients and customers) when your services fail. Examples might include software and service failures or poor advice by IT consultants. It is however important to note that E&O coverage differs greatly. Well structured E&O policies should extend coverage to include claims resulting from breach of warranty, breach of contract and/or claims asserting failure to deliver.

◈ REGULATORY DEFENSE AND PENALTIES: This insuring agreement provides attorney’s fees and costs associated with formal regulatory or administrative investigations. It also provides coverage for any resulting fines or penalties. With regulators such as the FTC, SEC and OCR increasing cyber enforcement, regulatory defense coverage is increasingly important. Enforcement actions can result from any of the below.

Cyber Risk, Data Breach, Cyber Insurance

◈ Security failures such as failure to protect data (including employee information)
◈ Improper data collection practices
◈ Failure to disclose a breach
◈ Deceptive privacy practices

◈ EXTORTION / RANSOMWARE: Provides coverage for associated costs, lost income and extortion demands resulting from ransomware attacks that might hold a website, data or software “hostage”.

◈ DATA BREACH RESPONSE COSTS: The costs incurred with responding to a data breach can be significant. Some figures estimate between $100 and $200 per infected record. Data breach response coverage provides coverage for the costs of any required forensic investigation, identity restoration costs, notification costs and credit monitoring costs.

◈ CRISIS MANAGEMENT EXPENSES: Data breaches can inflict significant damage to a company’s reputation. Restoring consumer confidence can be difficult. As a form of reputation insurance, this agreement provides coverage for the organization to hire a PR firm in order to help rebuild the organization’s brand and reputation. It should be noted that lost income resulting from brand damage is however, never covered.

◈ BUSINESS INTERRUPTION & DATA RESTORATION: Data breaches, DDOS attacks, ransom attacks and system failures can often result in lost profits, especially if sustained for a prolonged period. These attacks can also result in the theft or corruption of critical data and network damage which may need to be restored. This insurance agreement provides coverage for the resulting lost income and costs to restore data and networks. Some insurers limit this coverage only to security incidents, while others will also provide coverage for lost income resulting from a system outage. Some will limit coverage only to attacks directly affecting your networks, while others will extend coverage to incidents that might affect a cloud provider or business service provider.


◈ Extortion and Ransomware attacks resulting in lost income, extortion demands and data and restoration costs
◈ Virus infections of computer systems that destroy or corrupt data and networks requiring restoration.
◈ DDOS attacks resulting in lost income and financial damages to clients that might not be able to access data or utilize services.
◈ Data breaches and/or clerical errors (such as loss of a laptop with protected data) resulting in notification costs, credit monitoring, identity restoration costs, potential regulatory investigation and penalties, and potential consumer or shareholder class action.
◈ Improper privacy policies and/or data collection practices resulting in regulatory investigation and penalties and potential consumer or shareholder class action.
◈ Transmission of a virus or malware to a client or vendor resulting in defense costs and damages sustained by the injured party.


Network insurance contains too many variables to outline here. Some provide only third party coverage, where others include full first party coverage. Some contain numerous exclusions where others are more liberal. Exclusions also do not have be explicitly scheduled, often exclusionary language is contained deep within the definitions and conditions of the policy. Below are just a few examples of some of the coverage variables:

◈ PAPER FILES: All policies provide coverage for digitally stored data, however many companies also may utilize paper files as well, such as applications, tax forms, employee records, health records, etc. Some policies contain exclusions for losses arising from the theft or disclosure of paper records.

◈ ENCRYPTION: While data encryption is a wise recommendation, some companies may choose not to encrypt, or occasionally transmit or store data that is unencrypted. Some policies contain an encryption requirement, precluding coverage for any claims that arise from breaches that affect unencrypted data.

◈ SECURITY STANDARDS: Some cyber risk insurance policies contain a condition precedent to coverage, requiring that the organization employ a certain level of security measures. Failure to do so can nullify coverage.

◈ VIRUSES: Viruses can wreak havoc on a network resulting in lost income and significant restoration costs. Some coverage contains a specific exclusion for damage caused by viruses and/or any “self-propagating code”

◈ BODILY INJURY AND PROPERTY DAMAGES: Many cyber policies contain broad exclusions for any intrusions that result in bodily injury or property damage. These exclusions can be particularly problematic for the healthcare, technology and manufacturing sectors. If your company has any such exposure it is important to seek coverage with a carrier that provides coverage for any contingent BI/PD claims.

◈ VENDORS & OFFSITE COMPUTERS: Most companies rely on third party software in one form or another. Whether it be a cloud provider, SAAS software or compliance program. Security incidents that affect your business service provider or off site computer systems can result in claims against your company. Ranging from lost profits to privacy violations. It can also result in lost business income. Some carriers include within their definitions, coverage for breaches that affect service providers and offsite computer systems while others intentionally preclude such language.

◈ DATA: The definition of data is an important consideration. Especially for organizations that work more with corporate information. Some policies take an extremely narrow stance on defining data, simply as, drivers license information, dates of birth and social security information. Others contain more liberal definitions which include health information and corporate confidential information. Purchasing a policy with a narrow definition can significantly compromise coverage.

◈ FAILURE TO DISCLOSE A BREACH: Your employee lost a laptop with thousands of records on it, do you report it? With all of the breach notification laws differing state by state, and cross border laws posing an even greater challenge, knowing when a breach must be disclosed can be difficult. However, failing to do so can result in additional damages and regulatory enforcement. Some policies provide coverage for such claims, others do not.

◈ UNAUTHORIZED COLLECTION OF DATA: Most companies collect some degree of consumer data. But ensuring that your privacy policies and opt-in and opt-out practices are all accurate and transparent can be difficult. When data is collected improperly, claims can be close behind. Most policies contain some sort of exclusion for claims arising out of data collection practices, however a few insurers contain no such exclusion. Even when coverage is included terms can vary.


◈ D&O INSURANCE: When cyber breaches result in consumer or shareholder class actions, a properly structured directors and officers insurance policy may be the best protection. Depending on the claims asserted, policy language, and specifics of the loss, a D&O policy may or may not extend coverage, however due to the wide range of coverage provided by D&O policies, it is generally a wise placement nonetheless.
◈ CRIME & SOCIAL ENGINEERING INSURANCE: An often overlooked component of a strong cyber program is crime coverage. Crime insurance (with a properly structured social engineering endorsement) is particularly critical for protection against social engineering attacks and funds transfer fraud which are increasing in frequency and severity.


◈ With larger organizations investing more resources into their cyber security frameworks, and smaller organizations lacking proper security, cyber attacks are trickling down to mid -sized and smaller companies with greater frequency.
◈ Ransom demands have historically been on the lower side, however these demands are expected to increase which will result in greater damages for companies affected by extortion attacks.
◈ In addition to attacks becoming more sophisticated, malware is becoming smarter and the underground cyber crime marketplace (dark-web) is growing with more available code and a greater number of users, which will result in an increase in data breaches.
◈ Regulatory agencies such as the SEC and FTC are increasing their oversight of cyber security, bringing a greater number of enforcement actions against companies that: fail to prevent against a breach, fail to disclose a breach, or improperly collect consumer information. They have also voiced interest in pursuing actions against smaller companies.


◈ Public companies including micro cap and nano cap companies and those trading OTC.
◈ Professional firms of all sizes - particularly professionals that work with public companies, including consultants, accountants and lawyers
◈ Companies subject to regulatory oversight such as financial institutions and government contractors
◈ Smaller & mid-sized businesses. It is estimated that 60-80% of breaches affected smaller the SME sector. In 2015 alone there were 781 breaches as reported by ITRC.
◈ Higher risk industries such retailers, financial firms, healthcare, technology companies, educational institutions, hotels and hospitality companies, manufacturers and professional service firms.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

What constitutes a cyber attack?

Cyber attacks are socially or politically motivated attacks carried out primarily through the Internet. Attacks target the general public or national and corporate organizations and are carried out through the spread of malicious programs (viruses), unauthorized web access, fake websites, and other means of stealing personal or institutional information from targets of attacks, causing far-reaching damage.

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Types of cyber attacks

Targeted attack

Cyber attacks that are geared at particular organizations, services, and individuals to obtain private, technical, and institutional information, and other intellectual assets for the purpose of vandalism or monetary gain.

APT (Advanced Persistent Threat)  

A kind of targeted attack geared at a particular entity and carried out continuously and persistently using a variety of means in order to gain access to the target. APTs are mainly divided into (1) attacks through public servers and public websites on the Internet and (2) attacks against users through social engineering of target users into sending malicious programs (typical example is targeted email attack).

DoS (Denial of Service) attack

an attack meant to disrupt services

DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack

a DoS attack carried out from a distributed environment

Trends in cyber attack countermeasures

The borderlessness of the scope of unauthorized access and the sophistication and diversity of threats aimed at illegal information access have escalated.
Although most government agencies and major corporations have fully deployed individual tools as information security measures, targets of attacks have expanded to include, other than government institutions, critical infrastructures and specific industries and corporations, calling for more robust counter measures.

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Trends in cyber attack countermeasures

Overview of method used in targeted cyber attacks (typical)

Targeted attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated as they go through different stages: 

1. Espionage
2. Intrusion
3. Internal spread
4. Attack
5. Elimination of traces of activity

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Solutions to stop targeted attacks

Four countermeasures against targeted attacks  

1. Entry counter-measure
2. Exit counter-measure
3. Counter-measure against information leaks
4. Status visualization

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Problems associated with targeted attack countermeasures

Methods for attacks have become more sophisticated (elusive), making it difficult to detect them
From: Trend Micro report on “Trends in Advanced Persistent Threats (APT) in Japan for 1H FY2012”

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Delayed detection and initiation of countermeasures aggravate the extent of damage.
Since e-mails, document/image files contain confidential information, outsourcing [of cyber defense operations] is difficult.

Operation of solutions against targeted cyber attacks is complicated.

There is a need for multiple countermeasures, from entry to exit.
Tools differ depending on the type of solution, requiring analysis of a large volume of alarms and logs.


Calls for an integrated surveillance platform that could be internally operated

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Cyber Attack