8 Examples of Cyber Liability Threats

Cyber Liability ThreatsGenerally when you think of cyber liability threats, you probably envision destructive viruses, worms or trojan horses created by hackers. However there are many different ways in which your business can be put at risk for a cyber security breach.

Here are some of the most common types of cyber exposures your company can face, accompanied by real life examples from businesses who have already faced the risks.

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1. Loss of income and extra expense

  • Amazon, E-Bay and several other high-profile web sites were shut down for several hours due to an overload of hits to their pages. Hackers had illegally gained access to thousands of non-secure computers and created a program to access the sites simultaneously. The estimated loss of income due to this “blackout” was about $1.2 billion.

2. Extortion

Extortion is the unlawful taking of money, property or services from a person or organization through coercion, usually from threats.

  • A company received an e-mail claiming the sender had penetrated their firewall and copied their customers’ credit card information. The hacker threatened to post this information on the internet unless $1 million was paid within 24 hours.

3. Theft of intellectual property

Intellectual property refers to a wide variety of material created by artists, musicians, and inventors etc.

  • An employee used her personal computer to access her company’s customer data base, which she printed and then sold to some competitors.

4. Invasion of privacy

Invasion of privacy is the intrusion into the personal life of another, without just cause, which can give the person whose privacy has been violated the right to create a lawsuit for damages caused.

  • One of the nation’s biggest health care insurers accidentally sent e-mails to 19 members containing confidential medical information of 858 other members. Lawsuits were filed against the company for millions, alleging invasion of privacy.

5. Defamation

Defamation is any intentional false claim, written or spoken, that is harmful to the reputation of an individual or organization.

  • Evidence presented in court in a case against the diet drug fen-phen included an e-mail that had bad results. An employee of American Home Products, who made fen-phen, posted a memo on the company’s e-mail which stated that she hoped her entire career wouldn’t be spent paying off “fat people who are afraid of some silly lung problem.”

6. Harassment

Harassment is the act of unwanted attention or actions of another, generally including threats and demands. The most common types of harassment are racial prejudice, sexual favors and personal malice.

  • An employee of a florist supply company sent an e-mail to another employee describing a particular attractive customer. In addition, he expressed a desire to establish an intimate relationship with the customer. However, the fellow employee who received the e-mail was not his friend, and forwarded the email to the customer. That customer sued the company and the employee for sexual harassment.

7. Infringement

Infringement is the improper use of patented, copyrighted or trademarked work such as an article, a work of art or product.

  • A perfume supplier, attempting to increase the number of “hits” to their web site, listed the names of several famous perfumes on their website’s metatag, when they did not sell the brands. One of the manufacturers of said famous perfumes ended up suing the supplier for trademark infringement.

8. Professional Services

  • An online retailer sued a web site designer for damages the retailer sustained as a result of unauthorized access to its files by a hacker. The suit alleged that the web designer negligently designed the web site by not providing adequate safeguards.

How To Protect Your Business From These Cyber Liability Threats

Cyber liability threats are everywhere, and cyber security breaches are more and more common. As you can see it is simple for yourself, an employee or a third party to put your business at risk.

It’s important to be aware of how you can avoid breaches and the lawsuits that might follow, but for protection and peace of mind it’s even more important to have cyber liability insurance.

I’m ready to eat cyber criminals for breakfast!

To learn more on cyber liability here are several more useful reads: