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Cyber Risks & Liabilities: Privacy and Cyber-security

Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), companies dealing with and storing sensitive and personal information digitally must take the proper measures to ensure this data is never compromised. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of business owners to protect their clients’ data. Failing to do so can result in a data breach, which costs companies billions of pounds every year. Understanding the risks involved with data security can help you prevent a privacy breach.

Know the Risks

The first step in protecting your business is to recognise basic types of risk:

  • Hackers, attackers and intruders. These terms are applied to people who seek to exploit weaknesses in software and computer systems for their personal gain. Although their intentions are sometimes benign, their actions are typically in violation of the intended use of the systems that they are exploiting. The results of this cyber-risk can range from minimal mischief (creating a virus with no negative impact) to malicious activity (stealing or altering a client’s information).
  • Malicious code. This is the term used to describe any code in any part of a software system or script that is intended to cause undesired effects, security breaches or damage to a system.
    • Viruses: This type of code requires that you do something before it infects your system, such as open an email or go to a particular web page.
    • Worms: This code propagates systems without user interventions. They can start by exploiting a software flaw. Once the victim’s computer is infected, the worm tries to infect more computers.
    • Trojan horses: Trojans hide in otherwise harmless programs on a computer, and much like the Greek story, release themselves when you’re not expecting it and cause a lot of damage. For example, a program that claims to speed up your computer system but sends confidential information to an intruder is a type of Trojan.

IT Risk Management Practices

To reduce your cyber-risks, it is wise to develop an IT Risk Management Plan at your organisation. Risk management solutions utilise industry standards and best practices to assess hazards from unauthorised access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification or destruction of your information systems. Consider the following when implementing risk management strategies at your organisation:

  • Create a formal, documented risk management plan that addresses the scope, roles, responsibilities, compliance criteria and methodology for performing cyber-risk assessments. This plan should include a characterisation of all systems used at the organisation based on their function, the data stored and processed and importance to the organisation.
  • Review the cyber-risk plan on an annual basis and update it whenever there are significant changes to your information systems, the facilities where systems are stored or other conditions that may affect the impact of risk to the organisation.

Due Diligence When Selecting an ISP

Your organisation should also take precautionary measures when selecting an internet service provider (ISP) for use for company business. An ISP provides its customers with internet access and other web services. In addition, the company usually maintains web servers, and most ISPs offer web hosting capabilities.

With this luxury, many companies perform backups of emails and files, and may implement firewalls to block some incoming traffic.

To select an ISP that will reduce your cyber-risks, consider the following:

  • Security—Is the ISP concerned with security? Does it use encryption and SSL to protect any information that you submit?
  • Privacy—Does the ISP have a published privacy policy? Are you comfortable with who has access to your information, and how it is handled and used?
  • Services—Does your ISP offer the services that you want and do they meet your organisation’s needs? Is there adequate support for the services provided?
  • Cost—Are the ISP’s costs affordable and are they reasonable for the number of services that you receive? Are you sacrificing quality and security to get a lower price?
  • Reliability—Are the services provided by the ISP reliable, or are they frequently unavailable due to maintenance, security problems and a high volume of users? If the ISP knows that their services will be unavailable, does it adequately communicate that information to its customers?
  • User supports—Are there any published methods for contacting customer service, and do you receive prompt and friendly service? Do their hours of availability accommodate your company’s needs?
  • Speed—How fast is your ISP’s connection, and is it sufficient for accessing your email or navigating the web?
  • Recommendations—What have you heard from industry peers about the ISP? Were they trusted sources? Does the ISP serve your geographic area?

Protection is our Business

Your clients expect you to take proper care of their sensitive information. You can never see a data breach coming, but you can always plan for a potential breach. Contact us today; we have the tools necessary to ensure you have the proper cover to protect your company against a data breach.

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This Cyber Risks & Liabilities document is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact a legal or insurance professional for appropriate advice. © 2012 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

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