The Darker Web: Personal Cyber Exposures

By Theresa Gala & Marci Sheeran

The Darker Web: Personal Cyber Exposures

Today we all rely on the Internet more than we would like to admit. Our identities and personal information are fairly easy to find, and, for most people, the attitude is to basically cross our fingers and hope that that the next massive data breach does not affect us.

A report published by the White House Council of Economic Advisers indicated that in 2016, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received nearly 300,000 individual complaints of cybercrimes, with a total estimated cost of $1.3 billion; an average of $4,000 per victim.  These numbers are increasing exponentially with each passing year as is the sophistication of the methods used.  One of the most insidious exposures is also one of the most popular - social engineering.

Blending technology and psychology, social engineering attacks use deception and common technology platforms – email, text, instant messaging, etc. - to manipulate individuals into divulging confidential and personal information that may be used for fraudulent purposes.

Protecting against these social engineering threats requires vigilance in communication, including:


  • Thinking before clicking on a link.
  • Scrutinizing the address of the sender’s email - look for misspellings or other slight differences in the hyperlink address.
  • Mis-matches in the subject line, message and content This could be a red flag.
  • Messages seeking large sums of money should always be confirmed by phone to ensure legitimacy.

Here’s what can happen without vigilance: Let’s say you have been remodeling your home for the past year and receive an invoice via email from what appears to be your contractor instructing you to wire the final balance payment of $500,000.The amount seems accurate and you trust your contractor. You click on the link provided and wire the money. A month later a final invoice from your contractor arrives in the mail whereupon you discover that the wired money went not to your contractor, but to a fraudster somewhere in Algeria. How do you recover from this loss? Does the personal cyber liability policy include coverage for such loss?

Due to the rapid growth of cyber and other technological risks, a personal cyber liability endorsement is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’; it is an essential coverage for everyone to have.  However, cyber liability coverage is still evolving and not every endorsement is written the same, so the expert advice of a knowledgeable insurance broker will be necessary to ensure that you make the best choice for your cyber liability insurance needs.

Personal Cyber Liability Insurance – What Is It and What Can It Do?

Over the past several years insurers focusing on protecting the wealthy have developed add-ons to home polices that provide financial relief for the following:

  • Threats to release your personal information, hold files for ransom or destroy your personal network.
  • Loss of account funds from a cyber- attack or related expenses.
  • Coping with online harassment or bullying of you and/or loved ones.
  • Dealing with Cyber Attacks that stop you from accessing your home or that interrupt a small business managed from home.
  • Theft, loss or unauthorized access to personal data from a cyber- attack.
    Recovery after an identity theft.

How much does personal cyber liability cost?

Typically, premiums range between a few hundred to a couple of thousand dollars per year depending on the coverage scope and the need for protection. In the Internet age, all risks are connected. So when it comes to cyber liability, it is important to remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Be sure to work with an experienced broker who can tailor a policy to best meet both your budget and your personal needs.  


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