To the extent that all modern businesses maintain websites and have a presence on some part of the internet, every business is now an online business. Going online exposes a business to hacking and data breach risks that were never fathomed as recently as 25 years ago. The nature of some businesses, however, makes them more susceptible to those risks, and accordingly more in need of mechanisms and insurance to protect against them.
E-commerce companies are the clearest example of the type of business that is exposed to heightened cybersecurity risks. For example, hackers breached eBay's network and accessed the financial and personal information of more than 145 million eBay customers before the hack was shut down. Companies that sell products over the web and collect and store payment information about their customers are tantalizing targets for hackers, if for no other reason than the value of the information that they maintain.
Social media sites are an equally attractive hacking target. Subscribers to these sites often divulge personal information that hackers can use for more advanced identity theft. A business's social media presence can also provide an easy pathway for hackers to insert malware into a corporate network.
Businesses that rely on services from virtual assistants are similarly at risk. The rise of the freelance gig economy has popularized the use of remote personnel who do everything from answering telephones to finalizing major contracts and agreements. A business might have taken all steps necessary to protect its internal systems, only to discover that a virtual assistant has failed to follow suit.
Online financial services companies are a specialized subset of freelance virtual assistants that face their own cybersecurity issues. Many of these companies use automated financial systems to advise and make recommendations to their clients, typically in response to client data and input. Any company that utilizes another entity's financial data and profile will naturally be at a heightened risk for cybersecurity breaches, as hackers will focus their efforts on misappropriating that type of data.
Premium content subscription services are a hybrid of e-commerce and social media companies. These services provide subscribers with regular access to specialized online videos and information in exchange for a monthly subscription fee that is usually $10 or less. Like e-commerce and social media sites, subscription services maintain customer profiles and payment information, as well as personal preferences and interests. This combination is a mother lode of information that will entice every hacker and cyber-thief.
Online businesses can implement any number of steps to reduce the cybersecurity risks they face, including:
This last step of developing a responsive strategy recognizes that preventing every cyberattack will not be possible, and that some data breaches are bound to occur regardless of other protective mechanisms that a business may employ. A business can best protect itself against financial losses and liabilities that result from a successful cyberattack with cyber liability insurance. That insurance can provide financial resources to help an affected business to recover lost data and to replace damaged software and systems. It can also help mitigate liabilities to third parties whose personal and financial information has been lost through a cyberattack, and to reimburse a business for any fines that may be levied by regulatory agencies for failure to better protect that information.