With computer hacking at what one of the world’s leading experts declared ‘epidemic levels’, individuals, businesses and governmental agencies and institutions are at abnormally high risks as The Bahamas is among countries most likely to be targeted by attackers because of its vulnerability.
Juval Aviv, former Mossad agent who successfully led the Israeli government’s secret attack against the PLO operatives who captured and slaughtered 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, has spent the last four decades studying and developing solutions to a new kind of threat – cyber-attacks and financial intelligence.
This month he was in The Bahamas for a second time, this occasion to help Insurance Management Ltd. and Summit Insurance Company launch their cyber security insurance coverage.
“We must face the truth,” said Aviv. “We live in a dangerous world. In earlier decades, we could see the enemy. We knew their method of attack. Today, the enemy could be anywhere, in a garage, in a basement, in a room in Pakistan or Ukraine or on a farm in China, and their attacks are carried out in secret. No longer guns, knives, tanks, their weapons are more frightening, posing more potential damage. They already have the ability to knock out the power supply of the United States, to take down the entire grid.”
By hacking, virus or ransomware, their ability to disrupt life is without parallel. It knows no borders. And make no mistake, he said, those who now possess the greatest threat to individual, business and national security set their sights on the easiest targets.
“Today, Latin America, the Caribbean and The Bahamas are among the most vulnerable,” he told the audience that included nearly 100 people representing some of the country’s largest corporations and most active businesses.
“Protect yourself, become cyber resilient,” he said, applauding the news that Insurance Management and Summit Insurance would be offering cyber security coverage.
For some in the audience, coverage could not have come sooner. One after another shared horror stories of personal experiences as their businesses were hacked, disrupted by virus or hit by ransomware – an attack by a cyber fraudster who gets into a system, captures and kidnaps data and offers to release it for a fee, a move that most consultants strongly advise against.
According to Anton Sealey, Insurance Management Director, the firm recognized the danger and wanted to offer protection, knowing it would be pioneering in a field certain to grow.
“Our lives revolve around the internet and so do our vulnerabilities. So just like we offer coverage for fire, theft, liability or damage from hurricanes, we want to ensure that our clients have the ability to protect themselves against the threat of cyber-attacks or system failures,” said Sealey. Along with its in-house carrier, Summit Insurance Company, Insurance Management identified a Broker known for its work in the relatively new cyber security space. Last month, it signed an agreement with UK-based Willis Towers Watson, the world’s third largest underwriter with some 43,000 employees around the globe. Both companies have agreed to accept applications for cyber insurance within two weeks.
“Cyber theft is a $100 billion a year crime,” said Marcela Visbal, an attorney who is regional cyber product leader for Latin America with Willis Towers Watson. “While most of it is intentional, some 18% comes from accidental divulgence of information and material.”
Sources of cyber fraud are varied – hacker attacks, virus, cyber extortion, human error, employee dishonesty and fraud, system failure – among the most common.
“Even if you retrieve all your data, you experience consequential damages,” explained Visbal, “first and third party claims, extortion costs, data recovery fees, restoration costs, loss of income.” For financial institutions, medical and pharmaceutical companies and others that deal with personal data, there can be reputational damages and legal, public relations and marketing fees.