For anyone who uses technology, getting hacked is not a matter of “if,” but “when.” Confidential information from Sony got hacked last year, as did nude photos of celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence and Kirsten Dunst. Even the mighty IRS is not immune: 100,000 tax accounts were compromised in May by what some experts believe were Russian hackers.
Much of this vulnerability has come about because of the ubiquity of social media in our lives. But hang on to your hats—the Internet of Things (IoT) is about to make things even messier.
Still in its infancy, the IoT, which connects household objects to the Internet, is projected to add $14.2 trillion to the global economy by 2030. While it might deliver some convenience to users—theoretically, your refrigerator can not only tell you you’re out of milk, but it can pre-order the milk for you and send your autonomous car to pick it up!—it can be argued that the IoT will be more beneficial to big data collection and hackers.
Up to now, insurance protection against cyber risk has been more available to businesses than individuals. But that’s beginning to change as the risk of identity theft, defamation and cyber-aggression grows for everyday people. Besides the financial implications of identity theft, think of teenage cyber-bullying cases that involve parents, schools and police, or jilted lovers who threaten to broadcast salacious photos or messages from their former amours.
Personal lines insurers can address these risks under the personal umbrella product, but with the increase in incidents, they also need to protect their own interests as well as the policyholder’s. Staying abreast of legal developments is important, as is tightening policy restrictions, such as setting an aggregate limit for personal injury coverage, or excluding claims for damages of negligent supervision arising out of electronic communication.
It remains to be seen how the IoT will expand cyber risk for individual Americans. But one thing is certain: the hackers aren’t going away.