By Jason VanGotten, Colorado Restaurant Insurance --
Originally, I began writing about this back in 2015 when cyber-attacks were starting to become relevant in our world. Now, the world of cyber criminals have fully evolved and results show that 2017 recorded the highest number of cyber-attacks globally. This is evident in the vast amount of attention recently given to cyber-attacks with companies such as Equifax, Sonic, Chipotle, Time Warner, Anthem, Target, and more. Cyber liability is something all businesses need to consider, even the hospitality industry. Considering that your business likely has a website, uses social media, uses internet connected computers, has a point-of-sale system and most importantly an electronic payment processing system, you probably conduct more cyber business than you may be aware of. Yet, when was the last time you discussed this risk with your insurance agent? Cyber criminals have exploited all sizes of business and cyber liability can no longer be ignored.
The discussion around cyber exposure/risk is extensive and complicated. Exposures include computer fraud, hacking, ransomware, phishing, malware, adware, lost equipment and even simple mistakes. Some of the most common occurrences within a small business begin with:
- Online hacking and data theft of confidential information such as credit card numbers, personal identifiable information, social security numbers, date of birth, etc.;
- Accidental loss or sharing of proprietary information; and
- The inside threat, known as phishing, of employees stealing sensitive account information from employers and customers.
There are a lot of misconceptions regarding both your exposure and how to protect yourself. Unfortunately, many times the realization of insurance shortfall comes after something drastic happens. The common mistakes an operator can make regarding cyber liability are:
- Assuming, because you are a small business you are not a target;
- Assuming your general liability policy affords the proper coverage needed to protect against a cyber claim;
- Assuming cyber liability coverage is too expensive; and
- Assuming your point-of-sale, merchant service, and server (IT) companies afford you coverage/protection when a cyber-attack occurs.
The most common cyber liability a restaurant faces is a data breach. A data breach happens when an unauthorized individual gains access to electronic information (typically names, credit or debit card numbers and/or bank account numbers). This information is highly desirable to a criminal looking to sell their stolen information on the “Black Market” or to utilize the information themselves. The costs associated with resolving a potential data breach are significant. According to a 2016 Fortune report, a data breach for the Hospitality Industry can cost approximately $139 per record stolen. Consider that the average time to identify a breach is 201 days and that the average time to contain a breach is 70 days. Therefore, depending on the number of credit card transactions you process monthly and some of the potential efforts needed after a data breach (see below) the costs of a cyber-attack adds up quickly.
- Costs of notifying affected individuals;
- Costs of notifying regulatory authorities;
- Regulatory fines at home and abroad;
- Forensic costs to discover the cause;
- Business income loss;
- Cyber extortion payments (Ransomware);
- Lost customers and damaged reputation;
- Implementation of credit monitoring services;
- IT expert services; and
- Defense and settlement costs.
The lesson in recent stories making the cyber headlines is that security goes far beyond simply having the right technology. It also requires training your employees with the proper mindset, attention to detail, as well as a clear awareness of these possibilities. Remember, you cannot possibly think of everything that might happen. My advice to all restaurant owners is to strongly consider reducing some of your risk through securing your IT systems (update software regularly, train employees, monitor social networks, encrypt data, change passwords and confirm your vendor’s security). Even performing all these recommendations will not ensure full protection from a cyber-attack. Therefore, we also suggest transferring some of the risk by purchasing a cyber liability insurance policy to protect your restaurant from losses you would be forced to pay for if you are to ever experience a cyber-attack and your client data is successfully stolen.
For more information regarding cyber liability insurance for restaurants please contact Jason VanGotten at firstname.lastname@example.org