data breach

The Actual Costs of a Data Breach in 2021

2020 was a banner year for cyber criminals. As the coronavirus halted normal business operations across industries, shifts to remote work environments and a growing reliance on digital communication resulted in significant risk exposures for businesses of every size and type. Cyber criminals were successful in penetrating corporate and government computer systems around the world. The costs associated with a single criminal data breach can be staggering – and those costs are expected to increase in 2021. Without the protection of cyber insurance, business owners face out of pocket expenses that can negatively impact operations. 

Data Breaches: An Overview

Cyber crimes can take many forms. In some cases, criminals will gain unauthorized access to computer systems and steal data. In other attacks, sensitive personal information and business data will be held hostage, only to be released after a ransom is paid to the criminals. No matter the type of cyber attack, business owners have experienced substantial financial impacts. In a single attack on a Canadian financial services firm, the company was forced to spend about $53 million to recover stolen information. A European manufacturing firm faced costs as high as $75 million for a cyber attack that crippled operations.

According to a report compiled by IBM and the Ponemon Institute, the average cost associated with a data breach was nearly $4 million in 2020. In the United States, the average cost is even higher, approaching $8 million. While cyber insurance serves to recoup many of the costs faced in the wake of a criminal data breach, preventing attacks from occurring in the first place is a powerful risk management approach.

Four Categories of Financial Loss

In the wake of a data breach or ransomware attack, business owners may be on the hook for hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in unexpected expenses. Monetary losses associated with cybercrimes fall into four broad categories:

Detection – costs resulting from identifying and reporting a cyber attack as well as the expenses arising from audits, investigation, and mitigation.

Notification – costs associated with informing customers and stakeholders of a cyber attack.

Response – expenses that arises from the company’s response to an attack, including beefing up computer security, additional monitoring of computer systems, and providing affected customers with legal advice, credit monitoring services, and even discounts. 

Business losses – cyber crimes often interrupt business operations, resulting in significant expenses. Lost revenue is only one of many potential effects of a data breach.

The role of cyber insurance in protecting businesses from financial hardships after a data breach cannot be overstated. This insurance provides reimbursement for many of the expenses associated with cyber crimes and offers a blanket of liability protection for business owners.

Hidden Costs Associated with Data Breaches

Lost revenue and the expenses associated with recovering data after a cyber crime are well known to business owners. Data breaches often come with a wide range of hidden costs, however, and these costs can strain even the most comprehensive cyber insurance policy. Hidden costs associated with a data breach include:

  • Legal liabilities
  • Forensic data recovery
  • Supply chain interruptions
  • Reputational harm
  • Intellectual property theft
  • Lost control over critical business infrastructure and networks
  • Increases in cyber insurance premiums after a cyber attack

In many cases, business owners discover that calculating hidden costs or intangible losses is difficult at best. Simply determining what is lost and how much it costs adds even more expense to the equation, as many companies hire third-party cyber security professionals to conduct valuation and damage analysis in the wake of a data breach. Cyber criminals continue to target healthcare operations, financial services firms, and government entities even as world economies recover post-pandemic. It is clear that cyber insurance is an essential risk management tool in 2021 and beyond. 

About U.S. Risk

U.S. Risk, LLC. is a wholesale broker and specialty lines underwriting manager providing a wide range of specialty insurance products and services. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas and operating 16 domestic and international branches, U.S. Risk and its affiliates would like to help you access a world of new markets and products. For more information, contact us today at (800) 232-5830.

Ransomware on the Rise

Spotlight on Ransomware

Spotlight on Ransomware

Ransomware has become increasingly sophisticated, specialized and often incredibly difficult to prevent. This form of cybercrime involves hackers breaking into computer networks and locking up digital information until the victim pays for its release. Larger companies have been the primary target assumably because they have deeper pockets, but cybercriminals are increasingly attacking smaller organizations because they typically have less security in place. While ransomware is on the rise, there are ways to dramatically reduce if not eliminate the threat.

Download this post as a U.S. Risk White Paper (PDF).

Ransomware Trends

  • Payments are soaring. The average ransomware payment nearly tripled last year as compared to two years prior.
  • Paying a ransom doesn’t guarantee data recovery. One survey found ransom was paid in about one-third of cases. However, only a tiny percentage got all their data back, and nearly a third couldn’t recover more than half the encrypted data.
  • There is a rise in double extortion. This is when an attacker seizes data and demands payment. If payment isn’t made, the attackers will publish the data in an attempt to damage or embarrass the victim. In an increasing number of cases, it seems the demand for payment is really in return for not leaking stolen information online.
  • Cost of ransomware recovery has doubled, with the average total cost of recovery estimated to be ten times the average ransom payment.
  • Lawsuits being filed over small incidents are growing: more cases are seeking early settlements.

Proliferation of Ransomware

Experts predict there will be a ransomware attack every 11 seconds in 2021 and that the global cost associated with ransomware recovery will exceed $20 billion. By 2025, organizations will invest more than $1 trillion in their cybersecurity.

Ways to Reduce Your Risk

The most basic approach should include developing a companywide focus on security, an incident response plan and a separate backup system for data. In every ransomware event to date, it appears at least one (or more) of the following causes was to blame: no endpoint detection and response (EDR) strategy, ineffective backup solution/implementation, and open remote desktop protocol.

  • Implement Social Engineering/Phishing training to all employees, at least annually
  • Implement email filtering solutions
  • Implement Multi Factor Authentication (MFA) in the following areas:
    • Privileged User Accounts
    • Remote Access to Computer Systems by Employees
    • Remote access to Computer Systems by Vendors and Independent Contractors
  • Implement Endpoint Detection & Response (EDR)
  • Implement a Patch Management Program
  • Implement Daily Backups and Encrypt Backups
  • Implement Network Segmentation both physically and virtually
  • Disable all Remote Desktop Protocol ports (RDP) and Remote Desktop Gateways (RDG)
  • Implement Use of Net Generation Antivirus Software (NGAV)
  • Implement External Penetration Testing, at least annually

The Final Safety Net

While cyber insurance cannot act as a replacement for the security measures all companies should be implementing, it can help organizations with a financial safety net as well as proactive risk mitigation and management resources.

Top 10 Cyber Insurance Trends

  1. Cyber claims are growing in number and complexity
  2. External attacks are causing the most expensive losses, but internal accidents are occurring more frequently
  3. Business interruption is becoming the main cost driver behind claims
  4. Remote work and COVID-19 have heightened exposures
  5. Ransomware incidents are becoming more frequent and financially damaging
  6. Business compromise email attacks are surging
  7. Regulatory exposure is increasing around the globe
  8. Class action litigation is rising
  9. M&As are introducing cyber risk
  10. Nation state-sponsored attacks are increasing

Glossary of Terms

Multi Factor Authentication (MFA)
An electronic authentication method in which a device user is granted access to a website or application only after successfully presenting two or more pieces of evidence (or factors) to an authentication mechanism. MFA protects the user from an unknown person trying to access their data such as personal ID details or financial assets.

Endpoint Detection & Response (EDR)
Also known as endpoint threat detection and response (ETDR), EDR is a cyber technology that continually monitors and responds to mitigate cyber threats.

Patch Management Program
Patch management is the process of distributing and applying updates to software. These patches are often necessary to correct errors (“vulnerabilities” or “bugs”) in the software.

Network Segmentation (physical and virtual)
Network segmentation is an architectural approach that divides a network into multiple segments or subnets, each acting as its own small network.

Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) or Gateway (RDG)
A Windows server role that provides a secure encrypted connection to the server via RDP. It enhances control by removing all remote user access to the system and replaces it with a point-to-point remote desktop connection.

Next Generation Antivirus Software (NGAV)
Detects, responds to and prevents all kinds of cyberattack tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs).

External Penetration Testing
External penetration testing is a security assessment of the perimeter systems. External penetration testing usually tests from the perspective of an attacker with no prior access to your systems or networks.

The Bottom Line

Preparation is key when it comes to cybercrime prevention and loss controls. A trusted insurance expert highly experienced in all the various forms of cybercrime and how to insure them needs to be brought into the process as early as possible to ensure coverage for critical risks, future potential claims management, and the latest developments in terms and conditions.

About U.S. Risk

U.S. Risk, LLC is a wholesale broker and specialty lines underwriting manager providing a wide range of specialty insurance products and services. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas and operating 16 domestic and international branches, U.S. Risk and its affiliates would like to help you access a world of new markets and products. For more information, contact us today at (800) 232-5830.

cyber attack

Lesser Known Costs Associated with a Cyber Attack

With the growing threat of cyber attacks on business interests around the world, cyber insurance has become an integral part of risk management. This insurance helps to cover the expenses associated with a cyber attack, such as a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, data theft, or hijacking of business infrastructure. There are many costs associated with cyber criminality; in this guide, we will explore some of the lesser-known or “hidden” costs business owners must be aware of as they plan their network defenses. 

A Wave of Cyber Crimes

Cyber attacks have been part of the digital economy for decades. Just as soon as businesses moved to computerized systems, criminals followed in an attempt to steal or destroy sensitive electronic records. The threat of cyber attacks has only grown in recent years; computer security analysts report that the coronavirus pandemic hastened cybercrimes against businesses, governments, and financial institutions to the tune of a 600% increase in reported attacks. 

A single attack on business networks can mean hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in expenses for victims. In fact, the average cost of a data breach in 2020 was $3.86 million. Without robust cyber insurance protections, business owners face staggering out-of-pocket expenses during network recovery operations and the reputational harm that follows a publicized attack. 

Visible vs. Hidden Costs

Companies that fall victim to cyber attacks typically report what is known as “cost per record”, or the average expenses associated with common recovery costs like customer notification, regulatory penalties or fines, and credit monitoring services for those affected by a data breach. These visible costs account for much of the average $3.86 million expense when cyber criminals are successful in their endeavors.

Lesser-known costs, however, have the potential to create negative outcomes for business owners who have experienced a cyber attack. The effects of a data breach, email spoofing campaign, or phishing attack can often be difficult to quantify for business owners, but these effects can have a significant financial impact on business operations. So-called “hidden” expenses include:

  • Reputational harm and subsequent recovery efforts
  • Intellectual property (IP) theft
  • Supply chain and business interruptions
  • Incident management 
  • Legal liabilities
  • Forensic data recovery and investigations
  • Loss of control of critical business infrastructure of both networks and equipment

A range of valuation processes influence calculation of these hidden costs. Assigning a specific value to an intangible loss in the wake of a data breach or other cyber attack can be daunting for even the largest corporations. This valuation or damage analysis is often conducted by specialized cyber security professionals and represents an unexpected expense to deal with after a cyber attack occurs. 

Another potential side effect of cyber attacks is the rising expenses associated with insurance protection. Cyber insurance policy premiums have increased, and businesses purchasing or renewing such policies after a data breach occurs can expect steep costs. According to Deloitte, cyber insurance policyholders may experience a 200% increase in premiums after a breach. Just as likely is the insurer dropping coverage altogether unless specific data security conditions are met. Faced with the prospect of rising costs, it is critical that business owners evaluate their existing cyber insurance coverage before a data breach can harm business operations. With cyber insurance in place, business owners can rest easier knowing that the organization’s assets are protected from the rising specter of cyber criminality. 

About U.S. Risk

U.S. Risk, LLC. is a wholesale broker and specialty lines underwriting manager providing a wide range of specialty insurance products and services. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas and operating 16 domestic and international branches, U.S. Risk and its affiliates would like to help you access a world of new markets and products. For more information, contact us today at (800) 232-5830.

cyber security

Cyber Security Forecast for 2021

2020 provided unique challenges to business owners around the world. The coronavirus pandemic forced dramatic changes in business operations, pushing many companies toward a digital presence. Stay-at-home orders and quarantine restrictions drove a significant increase in remote work systems and online retailing as both employees and consumers were left with few other choices. As a result, cyber criminality grew bolder in its efforts to compromise sensitive business data. Cyber insurance serves as the risk management foundation against criminal activity. As 2021 unfolds, business owners must learn about the trends in cyber security to supplement the protections of cyber liability insurance.

Sharp Increases in Cyber Attacks

The COVID-19 pandemic has been disruptive to business operations in incalculable ways. One of the leading sources of interruption has resulted from a strong increase in the frequency and severity of cyber attacks. Criminals posing as employees to breach networks or plant malware in computer systems were able to steal millions of sensitive records. Nearly every sector was affected, from business operations to governments, scientific research centers, and financial institutions. In some industries, the number of cyber attacks increased by 400% or more. In all, criminal activity in gaining unauthorized access to business network has resulted in billions of dollars in direct losses and a sharp increase in cyber liabilities. Cyber insurance is crucial in protecting business assets against the onslaught of cyber risks.

Forecast #1: Growth in Ransomware Attacks

In many cases, cyber criminals breach computer systems for one reason: to hijack control of sensitive business data. So-called “ransomware” is injected into business networks; criminals then attempt to negotiate a ransom to return access to the data being held hostage. This type of cyber attack has proved lucrative for criminals worldwide – in several highly-publicized cases, companies have paid millions of dollars in ransoms to recover their data. Industry analysts suspect that ransomware attacks will continue to increase in 2021 and beyond based on the success criminals have had in 2020.

Cyber insurance provides coverage against the financial losses associated with ransomware attacks. Companies can supplement those insurance protections by adopting rigorous computer security policies, training employees on safe network access, and implementing the latest software/firmware patches against hackers.

Forecast #2: Remote Infrastructure at Risk

As the pandemic spread throughout the business world, companies moved their employees from centralized offices to their homes by deploying remote access systems. IT departments were often underprepared to handle this new remote work environment, and many companies implemented systems before thoroughly evaluating the cyber risks these systems represented. Criminals exploited weaknesses in cyber security and were able to capitalize on them, particularly in virtual private network (VPN) attacks. Cyber security professionals expect to see continued criminal focus on remote work systems in 2021.

Forecast #3: Security Weaknesses in Smart Devices

The Internet of Things (IoT) has captivated the business world over the past decade. Smart connected devices ranging from office lighting and heating/cooling to automated manufacturing and logistical tools have been adopted across industries. Unfortunately, these systems often come with security weaknesses out of the box, and many companies have not fully realized the potential for cyber criminals to exploit those weaknesses.

In simple terms, the more devices connected to business networks, the potential for more entry points for criminals. Although smart devices are capable of robust security, it is imperative for companies to evaluate weak points to develop risk management strategies against cyber criminals. Here, the role of cyber insurance cannot be overstated; it provides financial protection against the losses incurred by criminal activity on business networks.

Forecast #4: Centralization

Companies continue to work with third-party service providers to deliver critical computer services across platforms. Some of the service providers have grown dramatically as a result; an example is Amazon Web Services (AWS), which powers thousands of business networks around the world. This centralization has its advantages, including scalability and more affordable terms. Unfortunately, this level of centralization can cripple thousands of companies at once if the centralized service is compromised by criminals. From data breaches to the failure of smart devices connected to third-party services, business operations can grind to a halt. Developing robust mitigation strategies include not only cyber insurance but a detailed evaluation whether centralized service provision’s benefits outweigh the potential risks.

About U.S. Risk

U.S. Risk, LLC. is a wholesale broker and specialty lines underwriting manager providing a wide range of specialty insurance products and services. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas and operating 16 domestic and international branches, U.S. Risk and its affiliates would like to help you access a world of new markets and products. For more information, contact us today at (800) 232-5830.

data breach

How to Respond to a Data Breach

The best way to prevent a data breach is to be prepared for one. Implementing strong cybersecurity measures, maintaining them, and conducting regular updates are critical steps in securing systems. Educating staff about cybersecurity and training them on what they need to do to protect data and information are also crucial. Human error and carelessness are two of the primary causes of a cyberattack. Finally, your clients need a formalized plan for how to deal with an attack should one occur.

No matter what preventive measures your clients take, complete protection is not guaranteed. It is nearly impossible to stay ahead of cybercriminals. Cyberattacks are on the rise, with incidents in 2020 reaching as many as 4,000 per day. Procuring cyber liability insurance has never been more imperative to protect a business if it was to experience a data breach. So, what should a company do after a data breach? If an incident occurs, your clients need to be able to respond effectively and efficiently.

The Initial Response

A cyberattack can be daunting, but panicking will not help solve the problem. A data breach response plan helps your clients remain focused so that they know what initial steps they should take. Activate the response plan immediately. Take note of the date and time the breach was discovered, and when the response was initiated. Within the next 24 hours, your clients should also:

  • Alert members of the response team.
  • Secure the area to prevent access to evidence.
  • Take operations offline to prevent further data losses, but do not turn off the power or tamper with any technology.
  • Assess any additional risks and prioritize steps needed to reduce those risks.
  • Call in the cyber forensics team to begin investigations into when and how the cyberattack happened.
  • Consult with the legal team and notify law enforcement when necessary.
  • Notify the cyber liability insurance provider.

The Next Steps

After your clients complete the initial steps, they must document everything that has occurred thus far to ensure their company stays on track to recover and reopen. At this point, a team should begin resolving the issues to prevent future attacks. It is essential to carefully consider your client’s company’s vulnerabilities and address any issues that need to be remedied.

Service providers, encryption measures, and network segmentation should all be examined. The forensics team can ascertain whether any of these played a role in the attack. Identify everyone who may have been affected by the breach and what information was stolen. The forensics experts will remove any tools the hackers used to access the system.


Once affected businesses and individuals have been identified, it is imperative that they notify them as quickly as possible and let them know what information may be at risk. Make sure, however, that your clients consult with the lead investigator to time their notifications so that they do not impede investigations. Note that if the data breach involved health information, they are required to alert the Federal Trade Commission.

About U.S. Risk

U.S. Risk, LLC. is a wholesale broker and specialty lines underwriting manager providing a wide range of specialty insurance products and services. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas and operating 16 domestic and international branches, U.S. Risk and its affiliates would like to help you access a world of new markets and products. For more information, contact us today at (800) 232-5830.


cyber threats

Top 5 Cyber Threats for 2021 & Beyond

2020 was a difficult year for businesses around the globe. The coronavirus pandemic caused mass layoffs as the world economy came crashing down. For those business operations that were able to remain operational, a new threat emerged: cyber crimes. Cyber criminals stepped up their attacks on targets in the banking, utilities, and healthcare industries, causing billions of dollars in damages and lost productivity. Cyber liability insurance has become a critical risk management strategy for modern business operations, especially in the wake of increased criminal activity. For 2021 and beyond, business owners must gain knowledge about the top cyber threats they may face in the coming years.

What’s Old is New Again: Phishing Attacks

For nearly as long as computer devices were networked together, so-called “social engineering” hacks have plagued network administrators. Phishing, or the practice of having victims click a malicious link, open an infected email attachment, or reveal passwords and login credentials to attackers, has seen a sharp uptick during the pandemic. Hackers use phishing attacks to embed code into business computer networks or use credentials to gain access to sensitive data.

Ransomware: A Perennial Threat

Not quite as old as phishing, but still familiar to IT professionals is the ransomware attack, where cyber criminals will gain unauthorized access to a network and hold it hostage until a ransom payment is made. Malicious software is placed on targeted networks, particularly in the financial and healthcare sectors. These attacks interrupt business continuity and may result in the loss or destruction of critical data, straining even the best cyber liability insurance coverage.

Breaches in the Cloud

Cloud computing has revolutionized business networks across industries. Data can now be stored offsite and accessed from anywhere in the world. As a result, this has created new risk profiles for business owners – risks that cyber liability insurance is only now catching up to. Whether it is the cloud storage host or the end user, configuration errors are the most common source of unlawful data breaches. With access to sensitive business data, cyber criminals may intercept personally-identifying details, create fraudulent accounts, or sell data to the highest black market bidder. Again, these breaches can cost millions of dollars in recovery and damaged reputations.

The Internet of Things (IoT)

Every electronic device connected to a business network represents a potential weak point. The Internet of Things (IoT) has increased the ability of criminals to find and to exploit weaknesses. IoT is used to remotely manage business infrastructure or to capture and process data. Unfortunately, many of these devices are not equipped with robust security measures, making them a preferred target of cyber criminals. By exploiting weaknesses, criminals can gain access to business networks, giving them the ability to steal or erase data with a few strokes of a keyboard. Cyber liability insurance is designed to protect businesses from the losses associated with illicit criminal activity on company networks, but understanding the nature of IoT and the weaknesses it represents is a crucial risk management step.

Remote Work Environments: Prime Targets for Criminals

As the pandemic spread across the globe, resourceful employers added remote work options for their employees. Employees could log onto company networks from home using devices ranging from desktop and laptop computers to smartphones and tablets. Unfortunately, network security was often unable to keep pace with criminal activity, and remote workers were targeted by cyber thieves. Primarily, workers are responsible for keeping their own devices up to date in terms of antivirus and anti-intrusion software. Password management is another hot button issue for network administrators in the remote work environment. Each of these weaknesses is readily exploited by criminals and as a result, high-frequency and high-severity claims against cyber liability insurance policies have piled up.

To protect sensitive business networks, business owners must work with information security professionals to patch systems, increase monitoring, and train employees on safe access practices. These business owners must also carefully assess the coverages and limits of their cyber liability insurance policies. This insurance serves as a fallback in case of unauthorized or criminal computer activity. With this insurance and with information security practices in place, business owners can more readily protect sensitive data and computer networks from theft.

About U.S. Risk

U.S. Risk, LLC. is a wholesale broker and specialty lines underwriting manager providing a wide range of specialty insurance products and services. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas and operating 16 domestic and international branches, U.S. Risk and its affiliates would like to help you access a world of new markets and products. For more information, contact us today at (800) 232-5830.


Cryptojacking: What It Is and How to Prevent It

In the digital age, businesses face numerous risks associated with computer and technology systems. Highly publicized data breaches of major corporations have captivated the attention of business leaders; these breaches have also cost billions of dollars in forensic analysis, recovery, and reputational harm. While cyber liability insurance serves as the foundation of risk management, business leaders need to understand cyber risks. One of the emerging risks is that of “cryptojacking,” which exposes affected companies to the potential for severe liability claims. In this article, we will explore cryptojacking and provide information on how to prevent this cyber crime from harming your business operations.

What is Cryptojacking?

Cryptojacking refers to the illegal practice of hijacking someone else’s computer for the purpose of mining cryptocurrency, or digital/virtual currency like Bitcoin. Cyber criminals gain access to computer networks or spoof victims into installing cryptomining code onto computer systems. The code runs in the background and is difficult to detect. While the scripts used to mine cryptocurrencies do not in themselves damage computer systems, their placement represents a breach in network security. Once hackers gain access, they may attempt to hijack sensitive business data or commit other cyber crimes, putting the business at risk.

It is unclear how much cryptocurrency has been mined through this unauthorized hijacking of computers, but its value is estimated to be billions of dollars. In 2018 alone, a single cryptojacking incident infected more than 500,000 computers in Asia, netting criminals as much as $4 million. Computer security analysts indicate that the cryptojacking technology is relatively easy to master and expect significant growth in sophistication in the coming years. Cyber liability insurance is crucial for business owners who rely on computer systems and the sensitive data those computers contain.

Preventing Cryptojacking

By working in the background and being difficult to detect, cryptojacking may go unnoticed for long periods of time. The anonymous nature of the criminal act, and the fact that nothing was stolen from the infected computers, gives little incentive for businesses to pursue legal remedies. Nevertheless, network intrusion by cyber criminals is a serious threat and can lead to the loss of sensitive business data, not to mention the expenses associated with prevention and recovery. While cyber liability insurance is designed to provide protection from criminal activity and their expenses, preventing cryptojacking in the first place is the key to risk management.

As with any cyber criminality, monitoring unusual computer activity is the first step in preventing unauthorized intrusion. Computer security professionals recommend regular monitoring of systems and hardware for any signs of tampering. Updating security software and applying patches to systems also reduces the potential for unlawful network access.

Training employees in detecting fraudulent activity is another key component of risk management. Cryptojackers often use a technique called “phishing” to fool someone into clicking on a web link or email that looks legitimate. Clicking that link loads malware or cryptomining applications onto the computer network. Identifying and avoiding phishing attempts should be an integral part of employee training.

IT professionals should also receive specific training on cryptojacking practices and detection. In many cases, an increase in the number of employee complaints related to slow computer performance is an indication that cryptomining scripts are infecting computers. Training for all stakeholders is an important approach that can help prevent criminal hacking from harming business operations.

Because criminals sometimes infect legitimate websites with spoofed ads, security professionals recommend installing ad-blocking browser extensions on computers connected to the internet. Some third-party ad-blocking apps already incorporate tools to detect cryptomining.

Finally, business owners must carefully assess their current insurance protections. Cyber liability insurance is designed to protect business assets from losses from illegal computer activity. With the right security practices, and insurance policies and coverages in place, businesses can rest assured that their critical networks are secure from cyber criminals.

About U.S. Risk

U.S. Risk, LLC. is a wholesale broker and specialty lines underwriting manager providing a wide range of specialty insurance products and services. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas and operating 16 domestic and international branches, U.S. Risk and its affiliates would like to help you access a world of new markets and products. For more information, contact us today at (800) 232-5830.


The Emergence of a New Cyber Threat: “Vishing”

As remote employment has grown in popularity for the convenience and efficiency it provides business owners and employees alike, cybersecurity liabilities have equally expanded. With employees connecting to company servers from mobile devices or unsecured internet connections, the threat of cyberattacks has multiplied. In addition to concerns with malware, ransomware, and phishing attacks, vishing has emerged as a serious threat for the remote employee.

What Is Vishing?

The term vishing is taken from the words “voice” and “phishing.” In the realm of cybersecurity, phishing attacks target individuals through email or other digital means in an attempt to gain access to sensitive, personal data like passwords or financial payment details. Most often, the attack is formed through an organization or individual that appears legitimate. With vishing, the attacks occur over the phone.

Using automated voice technology and Voice over Internet protocol, many remote employees are being tricked into thinking they need to establish new login credentials with their virtual private networks. Attackers are then able to gain a foothold in the corporate network, where additional information is retrieved and used in new social engineering attacks. Vishing attacks continue to develop and become more sophisticated, making it an important consideration for businesses sending employees home to work.

What Protection Is Available?

There are many ways you can educate your clients about cybersecurity protection, but the most important thing you can do is inform them of their cyber liability insurance options. There are unique exposures addressed through an insurance policy that cannot be protected by other means. Primarily, the financial ramifications of a cybersecurity attack.

Cyber insurance providers recognize the many elements involved with cyber threats, both the internal exposures of employees mismanaging information or getting caught in a phishing trap and the external concerns of a network breach and data hack. As remote employees expose new weaknesses in cybersecurity strategies, business managers need to know the extent of their insurance coverage. As a broker, you have the ability to direct their attention to comprehensive solutions.

What Does a Cyber Insurance Policy Cover?

Cyber policies address the risks of exposure from data breaches, compromised networks, or other malicious cyber events. Insurance policies may address both first-party and third-party coverages, and your job as a broker is to see what form of coverage would be most beneficial to your client. There are various costs associated with cyberattacks, as a company can be sued for damages from several parties. Litigation to mount a defense, notify individuals, or payout settlements for any of these parties can be more than a company can bear. Cyber insurance steps in as the financial resource for these costs.

Vishing will continue to emerge as a cyber threat, and more advanced attacks can be expected. As a broker, informing your clients of their risks and their subsequent insurance options is the best advice you can give.

About U.S. Risk

U.S. Risk, LLC. is a wholesale broker and specialty lines underwriting manager providing a wide range of specialty insurance products and services. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas and operating 16 domestic and international branches, U.S. Risk and its affiliates would like to help you access a world of new markets and products. For more information, contact us today at (800) 232-5830.

Cyber Liability

Healthcare Faces Lingering Cyber Threats Amid COVID-19

The healthcare industry has undergone many changes in recent years, particularly centered on new technologies for managing patient encounters and to facilitate treatment. Electronic patient records and telemedicine options are some of the primary technologies adopted by healthcare facilities. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, these technologies allow healthcare delivery without direct contact between caregivers and patients. Unfortunately, with new technologies come new risks; healthcare cyber liability concerns related to criminal activity have risen dramatically. Many experts believe these emerging cyber liabilities will continue to linger far beyond the end of the pandemic, necessitating a careful look at the risk management strategies available to healthcare organizations. 

Cyber Criminals Targeting Enterprise Systems and Patient Data

Across industries, information technology professionals have experienced a sharp uptick in cyber criminality. In the healthcare sector, hackers have intruded into networks to interfere with information-sharing between health organizations. In the Czech Republic, the hospital responsible for managing COVID-19 testing for the country was the victim of a cyberattack, necessitating the shutdown of the facility’s network. Similar attacks targeted the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the World Health Organization (WHO). 

Healthcare systems have been a prime target for criminals, owing to the value of patient records which may contain Social Security numbers, banking information, and sensitive personal details. When criminals gain access to patient data, this information is often sold on the black market, netting millions of dollars in illicit profits. Healthcare cyber liability exposures may include:

  • Malware – programs designed to look like legitimate apps, but redirect network traffic or data to criminal enterprises.
  • Ransomware – holding data or networks hostage until a ransom is paid to cyber criminals.
  • Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks – flooding healthcare networks with traffic to foil operations.
  • Social engineering hacks – individuals posing as members of an organization to gain access to sensitive passwords and healthcare data. 

Healthcare Cyber Liabilities: Emerging Threats

The COVID-19 crisis has ushered in new operational practices, including those used in the healthcare industry. Remote work has become an integral part of many businesses, allowing employees to work from the safety of their own homes. Unfortunately, because these remote work options are relatively new and unfamiliar to many employees, hackers have taken advantage of weak security practices to gain entry into critical networks. This trend is expected to continue after the pandemic is contained, potentially costing healthcare organizations millions of dollars in insurance claims, forensic investigations, and legal exposures. 

The “Internet of Things”(IoT) is also a potential weak point for cyber criminals to exploit. Internet-connected medical devices and mobile communication and computing technologies often exist under a patchwork of security settings and protocols, or may be relatively exposed to criminal activity. The pandemic has only increased the reliance on these connected devices. Once a hacker gains entry to a network from a connected medical device, access to enterprise and patient data is but a few mouse clicks away.

Managing Healthcare Cyber Liability

Healthcare organizations know that the COVID-19 pandemic has altered business operations, forcing employees and managers to approach work in new ways. With the adoption of technologies to make the transition smoother, cyber criminals have leveraged security weaknesses to gain access to enterprise systems.

It is imperative that organizations address their healthcare cyber liability exposures, employing robust risk management strategies backed by comprehensive cyber liability insurance solutions. Training employees on secure computer access practices and password management can foil many malware, ransomware, and social engineering hacks. Adopting best practices in terms of IT network intrusion detection and security go a long way toward eliminating criminal activity. It is a good idea for healthcare organizations to carefully review existing insurance coverages and to identify any coverage gaps that may lead to liability exposures. With these practices, healthcare facilities can stop cyber criminals in their tracks, protecting sensitive business and patient data and helping to ensure business continuity. 

About U.S. Risk

U.S. Risk, LLC. is a wholesale broker and specialty lines underwriting manager providing a wide range of specialty insurance products and services. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas and operating 16 domestic and international branches, U.S. Risk and its affiliates would like to help you access a world of new markets and products. For more information, contact us today at (800) 232-5830.


5 Measures for Effective Cybersecurity After COVID-19

Around the world, the coronavirus pandemic has had powerful effects on industries of all types. Businesses were forced to adapt quickly to protect their customers and their employees. Because COVID-19 required stringent social distancing and self-quarantine restrictions, many businesses shifted to online work environments to remain in operation. Other companies focused on e-commerce, allowing them to continue delivering the goods and services consumers needed. Cybersecurity, then, became ever more important, as remote employee access and online shopping took center stage in many business operations. As an effective risk-management strategy, business owners must leverage the protection of cyber liability insurance plans and industry best practices to keep their networks and their sensitive data safe. 

Challenges and Risks During the COVID-19 Pandemic

As businesses revamped their operations, moving to remote work environments for their employees, challenges and risks for cybersecurity professionals and business leaders grew rapidly. Some of the challenges include:

  • Access to critical business networks via personal computing devices and on less-secure home networks.
  • Employees unfamiliar with cybersecurity practices, making them vulnerable to social engineering hacks and similar cyber criminality.
  • Targeted attacks by criminals on already-strained networks, particularly critical services such as healthcare and banking operations.
  • A change in perceptions about anomalous network behaviors. Prior to the pandemic, these behaviors were seen as evidence of criminals attempting to breach computer security. Now, with so many people working from home, anomalous behaviors are the norm rather than the exception, making actual criminal activity harder to spot. 
  • Flaws in security on popular productivity software products, including video conferencing platforms like Zoom. 

Most importantly, business leaders may not be fully aware of the cyber risks their companies face in the dramatic upheaval of the pandemic and its aftermath. While cyber liability insurance is designed to protect against many risks associated with network breaches and data loss, it is critical that leadership understands these risks and makes efforts to manage them effectively.

The 5 Measures: Cybersecurity Now and Post-Pandemic

In response to the unprecedented cyber risks exacerbated by the pandemic, the World Economic Forum (WEF) published a report entitled “Cybersecurity Leadership Principles: Lessons Learnt During the COVID-19 Pandemic to Prepare for the New Normal”. The report’s aim is to shape adequate responses to growing cyber threats, and contains five measures that will shape the future of cybersecurity. The five measures are:

  1. Fostering a culture of cyber resilience: As risks grow and wane, resilience is the key to continued data safety. Implementing proactive risk management practices and developing strategies to recover from cyber attacks are among the recommendations of the WEF.
  2. Focusing on protection of critical assets and services: It is impossible for businesses to protect every aspect of an operation. Instead, identifying and prioritizing those assets and services that are critical for business continuity while maintaining compliance with privacy and data security regulations is the better course of action.
  3. Balancing risk-informed decisions within the pandemic and in the future: Implementation of new systems and practices always come with new risks. Leaders must balance those risks and may have to make difficult decisions as they adapt to the “new normal”. Maintaining flexibility by continual reassessment of existing and emerging risks will help balance risk exposures.
  4. Updating and practicing response plans, including those designed for business continuity: While many companies have created business continuity and data breach response plans, these are not static documents. Risks evolve, and even the best plan is useless without testing its capabilities. By updating and practicing the plans, deficiencies can be uncovered and remedied before an actual response is needed.
  5. Strengthening collaboration throughout the business ecosystem: Establishing and building partnerships between public and private entities regarding cybersecurity is the key to continued success. Sharing information between partners in a transparent manner is the goal of this collaborative effort. By leveraging the power of collaboration, business leaders can more quickly identify emerging threats and take the steps needed to manage or eliminate those threats before they can cause an embarrassing and expensive data breach. 

The future is uncertain, but what is certain is that cyber criminality will continue to threaten the business world. In addition to protecting assets and systems with robust cyber liability insurance plans, insurance agents must provide their clients with the information and practices designed to manage risks going forward. The COVID-10 pandemic has been a challenging time, but it has also provided an important learning experience for industries around the world. These lessons will shape the direction of  cybersecurity response for years to come. 

About U.S. Risk

U.S. Risk, LLC. is a wholesale broker and specialty lines underwriting manager providing a wide range of specialty insurance products and services. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas and operating 16 domestic and international branches, U.S. Risk and its affiliates would like to help you access a world of new markets and products. For more information, contact us today at (800) 232-5830.