Cyber insurance and your small business

It might be easy to dismiss cyber crime as completely irrelevant to small businesses — surely cyber criminals are not interested in your small business when they could be targeting the big boys, right?

The reality is that cyber crime is believed to cost Australian businesses around $4.5 billion a year, but despite that, so few businesses are insured against it. In fact, small businesses have been the slowest to protect against cyber crime, making them even more vulnerable.

Every business, big or small will be reliant on data to some extent. Such data can include employee profiles, private corporate information, any identifying numbers (like Medicare and driver’s licence numbers), and information of a personal nature about customers, budget details and credit card information. The consequences of such data being breached and made public can be wide-ranging.

So how do you make an informed decision on whether you need cyber insurance for your business?

What exactly is a cyber crime?

In basic terms, cyber crime is a blanket term for any type of activity of a criminal nature that is carried out using a computer and/or the internet.

Cyber crime includes all of the following:

  • Identity theft
  • Cyber stalking
  • Use of malware
  • Use of viruses
  • Computer and network hacking
  • Online scams
  • Phishing scams
  • Fraud
  • Information theft
  • Extortion

When you consider that almost all businesses have an internet presence or make use of the internet in their everyday business dealings, it becomes pretty clear that cyber crime presents a risk to even the smallest businesses. And criminals don’t necessarily need to hack your systems to commit cyber crime; if they manage to get their hands on a laptop, iPad or mobile phone belonging to your business (either because it has been stolen or left unattended), they have easy access to your information and are able to more easily commit their crimes.

How will cyber crime affect your business?

The ways in which cyber crime can affect your business are actually a lot more expansive than you might think, and are usually not contained to a defined period of time; rather, the effects tend to be ongoing and costly.

Beyond the general business interruption, a breach of data that results in personal information of customers or employees being made public can result in significant fines, legal fees, and costs associated with investigating the breach, not to mention notifying customers of the potential effects it may have on them.

Consider also the loss of business. Your existing customers are unlikely to continue being your customers if their personal information becomes public — and even if a cyber crime committed against your business doesn’t directly affect them, the fact any crime was able to be committed at all will leave them feeling uneasy.

A cyber crime against your business could also affect your reputation and drive away potential customers who may think twice about dealing with you given your company’s cyber security shortcomings. As a simple example, if you are managing a small hotel and lose some of your data as a result of a cyber crime, how much income and time would you lose, and how many negative reviews on social media could you potentially be exposed to?

Can’t software keep your business safe from a cyber attack?

Yes, there are certain things you can do to help minimise the risk of a cyber attack and these things include the following:

  • Reputable anti-virus programs
  • Secure data back-up
  • Firewall technology
  • Data encryption
  • Laptop and mobile security
  • Adequate social media policies

If all of this sounds like gibberish to you, don’t feel bad. The reality is that most businesses aren’t aware of the extent to which they need to have such things in place to protect themselves and their information, which often leaves them incredibly vulnerable to cyber criminals.

And, unfortunately, even if you do have all the right systems and software in place, your business is still at risk — particularly if your business involves the collection of customer information, including personal, credit card and bank details.

What does cyber insurance cover?

Although policies will vary between insurers, a typical cyber insurance policy is designed to help you with both preventing breaches in the first place and dealing with them if and when they occur. Cyber insurance policies usually include the following:

  • The cost of restoring or recreating electronic data following a breach or leak
  • Forensic services to investigate a breach
  • PR coaching in the event a breach harms your business’s reputation
  • Assistance guarding against data breaches, hacking and employee error
  • Guidance on how to respond to a breach
  • Funds to cover the adverse financial effects related to a breach
  • Funds to cover any fines that might be payable following a breach

How do you decide if your business needs cyber insurance?

The best way to determine if cyber insurance and the threat of cyber crime is of relevance to your business is to talk to a reputable insurance broker.

The iO2 Insurance Group has access to some of the best cyber insurance protection products available in the market today. If you’re not sure whether you have the right cyber protection, or you would like to discuss the best options for your business, talk to the experts at iO2.

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