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Instant Insights / October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed new cyber threats. Now's the time for insurance professionals and insureds to reexamine cybersecurity strategies and coverage.

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Municipal breaches. Hackers are changing their focus from private companies to more vulnerable municipalities and governments, which usually lack the funds to secure, respond and recuperate from an attack. (Photo: Shutterstock)

It’s no secret that the frequency and speed of cyberattacks have increased in the past five years. But whereas hackers have historically targeted private companies with deep pockets to steal from, municipalities and governments are increasingly coming under fire. In March 2018, the City of Atlanta fell victim to a massive cyber breach with far-reaching public consequences: thousands of residents were unable to access city services such as courthouses and the water department website. While the monetary fallout continues to rise, the latest figure is $2.7 million.

Unlike private companies, public entities chronically lack the funds needed to secure, respond and recuperate from an attack. With the consolidated cost of a breach averaging $4 million in 2016, a single attack could easily bring down a police department, library or city. And while dollars and cents are at stake for any victim of an attack, public systems, services and entire populations’ sensitive data (e.g., social security numbers, medical records and drivers licenses) are vulnerable when it comes to municipalities. With increasing frequency, public officials are reading the newspapers and asking, “How vulnerable are we? What can we do to prevent this from happening in our city?”

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