KSL INVESTIGATES

Personal cyber insurance emerges as a new online safeguard, but do you need it?

Feb 9, 2022, 10:00 PM | Updated: Jun 19, 2022, 10:01 pm

SALT LAKE CITY—We use the internet all the time to buy things and pay bills, and we routinely share our identities and information with online companies and services. The problem is, this gives cybercrooks plenty of ways to steal our data and our money. Just as your home insurance protects your home, now personal cyber insurance can cover you and your family against online threats. But is it worth it?

Over the years, KSL has spoken to scores of Utahns who have had their lives and finances turned upside down by cybercriminals. The thing is, cyberattacks of all types just keep growing in frequency and severity said supervisory special agent Casey Harrington of the FBI’s Cyber Squad in Salt Lake.

“Whether it’s ransomware, or online scams, business email compromise, sim swaps, tech scams, we see it all almost every single day,” Harrington said.

FBI Supervisory Special Agent Casey Harrington explains how the frequency and severity of cyberattacks hitting Utahns continues to grow.

Over $47.1 million were lost by over 4,926 Utahns to cybercriminals in 2020, according to the FBI’s most recent report. That adds up to an average of $9,564 per crime, nearly three times higher than 2015’s average of $3,339.

“Again, that’s dependent on people reporting it to us, that number is much, much higher,” explained Harrington.

Tools like strong passwords, backing up data, constant software updates are traditional guards. But here is a new one: personal cyber insurance to offset the cost of a cyberattack.

“It can be a cyberattack or a cyber extortion,” said insurance agent Olga Serrato of State Farm. She sells the coverage as an add-on to a homeowner’s or renter’s policy.

“If someone is threatening you with demanding money, to deny access to your system or to distribute information, we also protect you against those,” said Serrato.

Several insurers offer cyber insurance now and while no two policies are alike, generally:

Someone hacks into your bank account and steals your money? You are covered. A bad guy steals your online identity to buy stuff or defraud others? You are covered. Your info ends up on the dark web after a big data breach? Expenses to restore your identity and credit are covered. A hacker holds your files for ransom or threatens to make your private stuff public? Your insurer sends in a specialist or if worse comes to worst, could foot the ransom.

“We all are subject to these attacks,” said Serrato.

Insurance agent Olga Serrato explains to KSL’s Matt Gephardt how the personal cyber insurance she sells can help cover threats such as ransomware, cyber extortion and identity theft.

Does that mean we all need personal cyber insurance?

Some things to consider: We have seen coverage limits of $25,000, $50,000, $100,000 on up to $1,000,000. Also, there is usually a $500 or $1,000 deductible per attack. And premiums can start as low as $25 a year, up to $1,600 and higher.

So, in the end, cyber insurance is like any other insurance. It is a personal choice about peace of mind.

But personal cyber insurance is not a replacement for any security measure we must take to protect our online selves.

“There’s so many different ones (schemes) out there from business emails compromises and these tech scams and romance scams,” said special agent Harrington. “People need to be aware of what they’re clicking on and who they’re communicating with online.”

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Personal cyber insurance emerges as a new online safeguard, but do you need it?