Cyber Insurance for Public Entities—The Consequences of a Cyber Attack

Cyber crime is the world’s fastest-growing criminal activity.

Companies worth billions of dollars frequently fall victim to data breaches and hacking events that cost them millions of dollars and virtually countless hours.

But cyber criminals aren’t targeting companies in the private sector only. Many municipalities and public entities have had their data hacked and their systems frozen. No entity, private or public, is immune to cyber attacks.

Read on to find out why cyber insurance for public entities is essential, and what kind of coverage they need to protect themselves.

Why Public Entities Make Attractive Cyber Crime Targets

Cyber criminal wearing hoodie sits at desk, back to camera, in front of laptop computer and three large display monitors.When hackers search for potential targets, they seek businesses storing sensitive data or heavily relying on their online systems.

Municipalities and public entities fit both hackers’ criteria.

They may store personal information, tax records, or other sensitive information people don’t want sold to the highest bidder on the illegal market.

In addition, many municipalities have to use their online systems to collect revenue, deliver services, and administer the city or town.

To appreciate how much damage a cyber attack can do to public entities, consider what would happen if a ransomware attack froze the New York City government’s systems for a week.

Taxes would go uncollected, court cases unscheduled, law enforcement undispatched, salaries unpaid—the municipal government wouldn’t be able to meet any of its responsibilities. It would have to choose between falling into chaos or paying millions of dollars in ransom.

The Most Common Cyber Threats to Public Entities

Public entities undoubtedly make prime targets for cyber criminals. Because they store valuable information and run vast portions of the country, the savvy criminal can earn a lot of money attacking them.

But to what specific attacks are public entities most susceptible? For what should they be on the watch?

Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware attacks occur when a cyber criminal installs malware that controls and disrupts their target’s files. With files or systems behind a door only they can unlock, the cyber criminal then demands a payment to release their hold on the victim.

Cyber criminals use ransomware to access public entities’ sensitive information or freeze their systems. Often, they reveal their hold on the entity in pressing or time-sensitive situations. For example, if the entity is in the middle of collecting taxes, it will likely pay a higher ransom than at other, slower times.

Hacktivist Attacks

Hacktivist attacks occur when cyber criminals use hacking as social or political activism. They may try and take online systems down for extended periods, expose private data, or cause other inconveniences to the entity.

Although most private companies don’t have to worry about hacktivist attacks, public entities do.

For example, every time a local government passes a new, controversial law, it makes enemies. If those enemies are skilled hackers, they may leverage their talents to wreak havoc on the government that passed the law.

State-Sponsored Attacks

A state-sponsored attack is one in which a hostile government leverages hacking instead of physical warfare to cripple another country’s infrastructure, collect secret intelligence, or steal money.

Because public entities often play critical roles in a nation, they make good targets for an enemy country to attack.

In the past, warfare meant soldiers fighting and killing other people with physical weapons. But modern warfare can look very different. Because nations today depend so much on the internet and technology, warring countries can attack and cripple each other solely through hacking. Cyber attacks can quickly escalate into threats to national security.

The Best Cyber Insurance for Public Entities

To protect themselves from cyber crime, public entities should always first implement a thorough cyber security program.

Employees are often the weakest link in public entities‘ online systems. Many people have never undergone cyber security training, meaning they can accidentally leave doors open to unwanted intruders. With the proper training and a proactive system to reinforce online security, the chance of a public entity falling victim to a cyber attack drops dramatically.

The second line of defense should always be proper cyber insurance for public entities. With the right level of cyber insurance, public entities can mitigate the risk of damage they run from attacks like those discussed above.

At a minimum, cyber insurance for public entities should include coverage for:

  • Breach notifications
  • Regulatory fines
  • Legal fees
  • Forensics
  • Temporary server backups
  • Data recovery
  • Ransom negotiation
  • Ransom payment

Coverage will vary depending on the public entity’s size, scope, responsibility, and vitalness.

To help you communicate the risks of cyber attacks and the subsequent need for cyber insurance to hesitant entities, we created a free infographic, Cyber Risk Management 101.

You can use this free resource to give the extra push many public entities need to go ahead and make the all-important decision to fully protect themselves by obtaining cyber insurance.

And to get even more information about cyber insurance for public entities, contact a ProWriters expert today.