In the recent movie "Firewall," Harrison Ford's character, a banking security expert, is the victim of identity theft by perpetrators who attempt to force his assistance in a $100 million robbery. While amusing to mass audiences, the storyline begs the question: fact or fiction?
From pervasive global outbreaks to smaller, stealthier attacks targeted at specific organizations for extortion purposes, a fundamental shift, or evolution, in cybercrime is anticipated in 2006, according to the IBM Global Business Security Index Report.
High-profile arrests in the United States and around the world indicate criminal gangs are increasingly using the Internet as a tool to extort money from businesses.
The cost of a distributed denial of service attack can be substantial--anywhere from $300 to $13 million per person per incident--and it has been estimated that as many as 10,000 incidents occur worldwide each day.
In fact, according to the SANS Institute, a computer security training, certification and research organization, the FBI receives more than one report of cyberextortion every day.
From ransomware, malicious software that encrypts computer files and asks for a ransom to decrypt them, to the cyberextortionists who demand huge sums of money to cease their attacks, the financial impact can vary.
Chief information officers see this crime as a greater threat than physical crime, according to a recent IBM survey of manufacturing, financial, health-care and retail enterprises. Businesses that are victims of such extortion may suffer a loss of customer and shareholder confidence, reduced productivity and a massive dip in revenue.
Intended victims may look to properly drafted insurance, such as a network-risk policy to cover loss arising from extortion threats regarding computer networks and intangible assets. Property policies, as well as kidnap and ransom policies, can also cover business interruption and extra expenses.
Now, if only Hollywood would open its eyes to the appeal of insurance as one of the big-screen heroes, instead of giving Harrison Ford all of the fun.
--Kevin Kalinich is co-national managing director of professional risk solutions for Aon Financial Services Group.
June 1, 2006
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