An Affair to Remember: Lessons in Data Breach and Cyber Liability from Ashley Madison

August 19, 2015

“Life is short. Have an affair.”

Over 37 million people are wishing that life would be a bit shorter this past week, thanks to the release of sensitive data pertaining to Ashley Madison, an online site that facilitates cheating among its 37 million users.

The data stolen from Avid Life Media, the company that owns AshleyMadison, along with other hookup sites Cougar Life and Established Men, contains the names, billing addresses, credit card information, and other private details belonging to heads of state, government officials, corporate executives, and more.

According to Gizmodo, “The Impact Team’s beef with Avid seems to lie with the Full Delete feature offered by AshleyMadison—a $19 service that allows users of the site to erase their profile, and all accompanying information. According to The Impact Team, that service is a lie—it claims that although profile information is removed, credit card details, including real name and billing address—remain online.”

Moral judgments and ethical debates aside, any business that collects customer data, such as Dates of Birth, Social Security Numbers, or processes credit card payments is subject to a cyber attack and data breach losses.

It’s not a question of if, but a matter of when

If you’re a small- to mid-sized business, you may not think you’re a large enough target for hackers and data breach. In reality, small- to mid-sized businesses are the most vulnerable to cybercrime. And it doesn’t have to happen via some lone computer programmer in a dark room, miles away.

In fact, the most common breaches can occur via:

  • Lost or stolen laptops, tablets, and storage devices
  • Accidental mailings to the wrong individual
  • Improper document or office equipment disposal
  • Unintended posting or sharing of sensitive data
  • Breach caused by a third-party vendor

Some of the most high-profile data and security breaches actually took place offline through the lack of basic “nuts and bolts” physical security:

  • Hewlett-Packard Corporation acknowledged the theft of a laptop computer containing the names, social security number, and other information for almost 200,000 employees
  • Bank of America reported that a small number of backup tapes containing records of the personal financial information of government employees were lost in a shipment to their backup center
  • Citigroup announced that UPS had somehow misplaced a box of computer tapes containing personal data on approximately 3.9 million Citigroup customers

The simplest error could cost you your business

Those who rely on you to protect their business interests also trust you to protect their personal information. When sensitive data is exposed, your reputation is on the line.

Cyber liability coverage and data loss/breach protection is affordable. The simplest error is thinking you don’t need it or can’t afford it. The following stats will reveal that you can’t afford not to have it:

  • 74% of small- and mid-sized businesses are targeted for cybercrime
  • 62% of all reported data breaches were with
  • 1 out of 5 small businesses falls victim to cyber crime each year
  • 60% of small- and mid-sized businesses go out of business within 6 months of an attack
  • The average cost of the attack was $188,282

With a variety of coverage limits to meet your needs, we can provide:

  • First-Party Privacy Breach Expense
  • Third-Party Cyber Liability
  • Regulatory Proceeding Claim Expense
  • Optional First-Party Business Interruption

In addition, we offer value-added proactive services to help minimize the occurrence of a data breach and post-breach services to provide expert assistance if one occurs.

  • Data Breach counseling
  • Crisis management
  • Notification assistance
  • Remediation planning
  • Evidentiary support
  • Online resources for proactive data breach risk assessment and planning

Life may be short, but the impact of a cybercrime and data breach is excruciatingly long. We can provide you with a FREE threat assessment and recommend the right coverage limits for your business.

Fill out the form below to receive a FREE white paper on the top cybersecurity mistakes to avoid!


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