Amid the first existential global crisis most humans currently on the planet have experienced, we may find ourselves with extra time for deep self-reflection and the opportunity to ponder larger questions that typically never have a chance to enter our consciousness amid the commotion of our daily lives. Thanks to social distancing, shelter in place, and quarantine, we suddenly have more time for this type of thinking.
It is difficult to think about the next crisis, especially when we are in the middle of one. However, my job is to think about those things. What’s next? How do we protect and prepare our clients for the future?
Trying to Predict the Future
While this global pandemic is certainly front of mind, the next systemic issue that could completely disrupt day-to-day life for a large portion of the country/world is cyber-attacks. Not only are we vulnerable individually to cyber attacks (whether personal or business), but on a collective level as a society. Threats to your business exist beyond the walls of your company, as we have all learned through COVID-19. Let me explain what I mean by that.
A new report from the federal government indicates that we as a society are “dangerously unsecure in cyber”. This statement encompasses individuals, businesses, government (local, city, state, federal), utilities, medical facilities, etc. Collectively, we are less prepared for a systemic cyber attack than we were for a global pandemic; which we clearly were woefully unprepared for. Could you imagine what one of the following situations would do to daily life as the result of a cyber attack?
- Shutdown of major stock markets and financial institutions (NYSE and The Federal Reserve for example)
- Inability to vote or the manipulation of election results
- Shutdown of the electrical, gas, and water grid
- Shutdown of the internet
The impact would likely be more abrupt and disruptive than what we are seeing with COVID-19. A shutdown on the internet? Is that possible? Could we exist as a society today without the internet? What would the impact of a global pandemic be to our economy if we did not have the internet? It is hard to fathom.
There are some startling statistics which show the infrastructure of the internet is highly reliant on a very limited number of companies. Amazon Web Services (AWS) owns 47% of all public cloud infrastructure (IaaS) and the top 5 public cloud infrastructure providers make up 80% of the market, according to an August 2019 Forbes article. Our lack of diversification in our cloud infrastructure puts us at a much higher systemic risk if one of these companies were the victim of a large scale cyber attack.
What Can Be Done?
You need a cyber-insurance policy and you need a good one. Cyber insurance policies are unique and no two are the same. When putting a cyber policy in place, it is critical that you work with a team that understands cyber insurance and that they can explain to you in laymen’s terms what is covered. With respect to a systemic cyber attack that is not directed at you or your business, but does affect your ability to generate revenue, your cyber policy must have coverage for contingent business interruption. This will cover losses from interruptions of others’ systems.
A silver lining from COVID-19 (I hope) is that each of us will look at our lives and business in a different way. We have to prepare for the next challenge, especially those outside our control, in a different way. I know I have. Hopefully we will be more prepared for the next global crisis that comes our way. Cyber insurance is a way we can all start down that path and do our part.
IBTX, an Acrisure Agency Partner, specializes in risk management and insurance solutions. Empowered with innovative thinking, our experienced professionals deliver creative solutions to proactively manage risk, mitigate exposure and consequences and minimize financial and human impact. We are among the largest independent brokers in the Southwest with a mission to instill confidence in our clients.
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