COVID-19: Cyber Risks, Insurance and Us

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Thursday, March 26, 2020   / 10:27AM /  By Ekerete Ola Gam-Ikon  /  Header Image Credit: Lockheed Martin / Ecographics

 

Reality has happened upon us as we have to do more online than we have ever done, no thanks to COVID-19 and the lockdown option. A necessary reminder, therefore, especially to those who are just joining the rest of us, is that the criminals amongst us have equally upped their activities and looking for who to "kill". Like a virus, no one is exempted from the attacks by cyber criminals. 

 

With an estimated population of 127m internet users, Nigeria and Nigerians face a higher magnitude of cyber risks both at personal and corporate levels and we have to be aware then seek appropriate protection of technological and risk management dimensions.

 

Firstly, be aware that cyber risks expresses the potential of your data and information held in devices being stolen or destroyed by online criminals and jeopardizing your future.

 

We have heard about hacking and hackers but unknown to many of us, that is just one of the top cyber risks prevalent in our world today. Others include ransomware, phishing, data leakage and insider threat.

 

According to a recent study of University of Maryland in the US, every 39 seconds, a hacker unleashes an attack on a computer with online access.

 

The implication of this is that we are exposed to more cyber risks than we are aware of and cannot continue without deploying available defensive and, quite recently, predictive tech solutions with strong determination to stay ahead of the criminals.

 

In Nigeria, available statistics reveal that we lose about N130b annually to cyber fraud.

 

The time that we have off our usually busy work schedule must be used to gain more information and knowledge about these risks we face.

 


Mitigation Against Cyber Risks

 

Considering that technology is an enabler, you and your employees, in the case of companies, firstly need to be careful in handling unsolicited emails and calls. Our financial services providers continue to warn us against sharing our passwords with others but it is amazing that top executives in the public and private sectors readily give their passwords and Personal Identification Number (PIN) to colleagues with little or no concerns about these cyber risks.

 

Your password and PIN are not like your office keys, so stop giving them to others because you are too busy to do it yourself; otherwise, change them regularly. 

 

Next, installing anti-virus and malware protection software, data backups, network firewalls, data access security, encryption software as well as well-communicated procedures for internet usage goes a long way to help us survive and thrive online.

 

Above all, the behaviour of people around us have to be well monitored to ensure that data and information are not lost carelessly. For example, irrespective of your position, you should be alerted when someone says he has exhausted his phone credit and seeks permission to use your phone to make a call or computer to do some work. 


 

How Insurance Can Help

 

Too often, individuals and businesses have not been able to get compensation through insurance claims because cyber risks is an emerging area that both insurers and policyholders are grappling with. The common issues are noticeable when assets are insured without due consideration to the existence of cyber infrastructure that could affect the status of the assets. 

 

Most insurance contracts are done without proper assessment of the anti-virus software and protective devices put in place thus making it difficult to ascertain the proximate cause of the loss or damage that occurred. 

 

Therefore, it becomes imperative to check, or engage an expert to assist you ascertain, that your insurance coverage adequately recognises those elements that might make claims settlement challenging.

 

Over the years, Nigerian insurers been developing the capacity to provide cyber insurance coverage by collaborating with international insurance brokers. 


 

Lessons from Today

 

Where we are now serves as unavoidable learning points for everyone irrespective of age, class and other biases.

 

With what COVID-19 is teaching us, we need to be better prepared to engage a future dominated by cyber activities whether good or bad!

 

What kind of protection do you have on your phone and other devices?

 

If you are hit by any of the aforementioned risks, are you able to recover quickly and remain active online?

 

Phishing has become more prevalent and organisations are advised to train their employees on ways to detect spoofing attacks promptly.

 

The common advice when you experience breaches include changing your passwords, informing your banks and service providers and, if neccessary, shutting down your system.

 

Meanwhile, there is hope that some insurers in Nigeria, post-recapitalization will be able to get the reinsurance capacity to provide cyber insurance coverage directly. Taking courses on cybersecurity may be the edge our insurance professionals need at this time.

 

Elsewhere, all stakeholders led by respective regulators need to create the right environment for us to indeed stay safe as our dependence on the internet and cyberspace increases.

 

On a personal basis, we have to take responsibility to avert the criminal activities of others while still contributing to the positive development of our economy. 

 


About The Author

Ekerete Olawoye Gam-Ikon, MNIM, CPP is a management consultant with specialization in Strategy and Insurance. He can be reached vide telephone on +234-806-648-1111 and +234-802-585-0344 or by e-mail vide olagamola@gmail.com

 

Proshare Nigeria Pvt. Ltd.

 

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