Personal insurance typically provides individuals and families with protection against loss to their property and assets from such perils as fire, water damage, and liability lawsuits. However, there is another exposure that is becoming an increasingly dangerous threat in our technology-driven world – cybercrime.
This article will outline some of the latest examples of cybercrime, provide tips to help you protect yourself and your family, and discuss some of the new personal insurance products that are being developed to address this serious risk.
What Is Cybercrime?
If you have a home computer, cell phone, or other Internet-connected personal device, you can become a target of cybercrime.
According to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Bureau (www.ic3.gov), examples of cybercrimes include credit card fraud, debt elimination fraud, false employment/business opportunity fraud, identity theft, Internet extortion, investment fraud, lotteries, phishing schemes, Ponzi/pyramid schemes, and Internet auction fraud.
Incidents that have been reported recently include:
- Emails from criminals impersonating the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Bureau that try to collect personal data
- Fraudulent online vehicle sales in which criminals provide a seemingly valid reason for offering a discounted price, such as military leave, divorce, or death
- Extortion emails from criminals who threaten to expose marital infidelity, visits to pornographic websites, etc.
- Fraudulent email employment opportunities targeting college students
The main objective of these crimes is to gain money or steal an individual’s identity. It is important to be ultra-careful whom you deal with online and to safeguard your personal information.
Criminals can be alarmingly convincing, and they are constantly finding new ways to deceive people into handing over their personal details and funds.
How Can I Protect Myself?
There are some simple steps you can take to help protect against cybercrime:
- Use complex passwords and a different password for each app or site you access
- Keep operating systems (iOS, Windows, etc.) up to date
- Do not use public Wi-Fi; use a VPN (virtual private network) when using a public network
- Limit posts on social media, and do not share personal details on social media
- Do not allow apps to use your location
- Carefully limit the apps that access your contacts, photos, camera, microphone, and calendar
- Do not click on “unsubscribe me” links in spam and promotional emails; label them as “junk,” instead
What Insurance Coverage Is Available?
Several major insurance companies now offer Personal Cyber Protection coverage as an endorsement to their homeowners policies. Some companies also offer stand-alone cyber protection policies.
Cyber protection provides coverage for expenses resulting from cybercrime. Policies generally have separate limits of coverage for different types of loss, such as:
- Cyber Extortion and Ransomware
- Cyber Fraud/Financial Loss
- Cyber Disruption
- Cyber Breach of Privacy
Cyber protection coverage usually costs $250 to $750 per year, depending on the level and type of coverage that is appropriate for your situation.
If you are a victim, the policy will help pay for expenses and may provide coverage for psychiatric services or temporary relocation (for cyberbullying), crisis management, reputational restoration, and digital forensic analysis.
The insurance companies offering this coverage also collaborate with cybersecurity firms that can conduct investigations, suggest preventative measures, and provide credit-monitoring and identity-theft services.
Are There Any Immediate Next Steps?
Nothing is foolproof, but it helps to be vigilant and take common-sense precautions to protect yourself and your family from cyber criminals. If you do become a victim of cybercrime, or you suspect you have been targeted, include the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Bureau among the authorities you contact.
You also might consider contacting your homeowners insurance provider for recommendations on cybersecurity firms that can offer suggestions specific to your circumstances.
Finally, you might consider purchasing cyber protection insurance.