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Cyber Liability: Professionals Beware the Rise of Ransomware

Cyber Liability: Professionals Beware the Rise of Ransomware

Cyber Liability: Professionals Beware the Rise of RansomwareThe rise of ransomware as a cyber liability threat is underscored in a new Kaspersky Lab report, which revealed a 14% increase in ransomware in the first quarter of 2016. In fact, the company’s Securelist blog stated that ransomware has topped targeted attacks as the “main theme of the quarter.” Additionally, Enigma Software reported that this past April was ransomware’s biggest month ever in the United States, with the number of ransomware infections increasing by 158% over March. Ransomware is malware that can block access to a computer system until payment is made to the perpetrator.

All types of organizations including professionals are targets of ransomware. For example, a spate of ransomware hit attorneys on the West Coast earlier this year prompting state bars to issue warnings. E-mails sent to lawyers appeared to be from state bar associations and referenced a complaint, which was outlined in an attached document that contained the ransomware and infected the computer system. Moreover, accounting firms are now being warned of their vulnerability to cyber criminals looking to monetize the critical financial data they possess on their clients. In fact, according to the Online Trust Alliance (OTA), cybercriminals are increasingly going after confidential high-value data from legal, accounting, architecture and engineering firms.

How to Protect Your Firm against Ransomware

Malware comes from various sources including malicious advertising, malware planted in websites, and infected email attachments and social networks. There are modern security technologies that should be implemented to protect businesses from these attacks. Internet security software such as exploit protection, URL filtering, emulators and cloud technologies protect users from known and unknown threats. Along with this technology, employ a mitigation strategy that includes regular backups and software updates.  Cyber security awareness training for your employees should also be a part of your firm’s risk management strategy, including cautioning all employees not to click on a link, file or image from an untested source or untrusted URL.  For additional measures to take, please view our related article on phishing.

In addition, professionals, including accountants and lawyers, should look at purchasing Cyber Liability insurance that covers ransomware losses, including the related IT expenses.  There are also various insurance products that can be designed to contain extortion liability coverage where insurers will reimburse policyholders for losses resulting from a cyber extortion incident. Cyber Liability insurance may cover a company’s costs to notify potentially affected persons and legal liability (including the costs of defending against claims) in the event that a malware attack results in the disclosure of confidential information. The coverage is also often designed to respond, whether the malware is introduced by an intrusion into the network by an outsider, or through the unwitting assistance of an employee or authorized person, such as in a phishing attack.

Axis Insurance Services specializes in providing Professional Liability insurance, including Cyber Liability coverage, to a broad spectrum of professionals, including attorneys, accountants, and others. We can design a Cyber policy to address your exposures. Just give us a call at (877) 787-5258.

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Blogged on: July 15, 2016 by Mike Smith
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