What we’ve learned from Target’s data breach

A white sweater.  A last minute pair of black heels for my daughter’s winter dance.  And a can of hairspray.  Purchased on December 6, 2013 . . . at Target.

Because of those three items, purchased with my debit card, I spent the 5 days leading up to Christmas without a debit card.  You should see what my American Express bill looked like as a result!  Or maybe you shouldn’t.  My experience was not one of the bad ones.  I called my bank.  They cancelled my card immediately and waived the fee for FedEx-ing me a new card as quickly as possible.  I received it late in the day on Christmas Eve.  I’ve kept an eye on all of my cards and accounts – either fortunately or unfortunately, all of the charges have been mine.

The latest estimate released today says that I am one of 70,000,000 victims.

We all know that computer viruses happen.  Hackers attack.  Cyber and date crimes are on the rise.  It’s fairly common knowledge.  However, when a retail giant like Target or an internet empire like LivingSocial becomes the victim of cyber crime, it brings this ever-growing problem into the limelight.

Cyber liability insurance, data breach

Here’s what’s true:  Target had invested millions of dollars into its computer infrastructure to ensure the security of retail and internet sales.  They got hacked anyway.  They are being sued and will be paying millions of dollars for credit monitoring for their customers.

Here’s what’s also true:  If it can happen to them, it can certainly happen to the small business owner.  And it’s easier to hack into a small business than a mega-store.  Small businesses are where cyber criminals cut their teeth. 

How cyber crime happens:

  1. An employee leaves a business laptop on the train or in an unlocked car
  2. A hacker breaks through your computer fire-walls
  3. A flash drive is stolen or missing
  4. Even paper files can be stolen – the old fashioned way
  5. The outside vendor you use for accounting gets hacked
  6. The outside vendor you use for payroll/employee benefits gets hacked

Cyber liability insurance is specifically designed to intervene and protect your assets when your business is the victim of a hacker or data breach crime.  The coverage can vary widely from company to company, but the premise is basically the same.  Cyber liability insurance can pay for the damage that your business sustains such as business interruption, increased costs and loss of digital assets.  It can also pay for the damage to third parties – your customers.  This coverage can include customer notification costs, public relations expenses, and credit monitoring costs.

It costs you nothing to find out what cyber liability insurance can do for your business.  And it may mean the difference between salvaging your business and losing it all.

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