Does Home Insurance Cover You for Cybersecurity Hacks?

The more digitally connected we become, the higher the chance we could fall victim to a cybersecurity hack or data breach.

According to the results of a consumer survey conducted in May 2020 by the Cybersecure Policy Exchange (CPX) at Ryerson University in Toronto, 57% of Canadians report falling prey to cybercrime. The survey results show:

  • 31% unintentionally downloaded a virus or malware
  • 28% fell victim to a data breach that exposed their personal information
  • 22% had one of their online accounts hacked
  • 13% were victims of a phishing scam
  • 8% made the mistake of unintentionally installing ransomware

Moreover, COVID-19 hasn’t helped the situation. The CPX report highlights since the start of the pandemic, Canadians are increasingly turning to Facebook Messenger (55%) and Zoom videoconferencing (46%) to keep in touch. CPX says these online tools make us more susceptible to privacy and security risks, and that only 26% of Canadians restrict the information those tools can access through its settings.

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Also, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre warns that since the federal government launched the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), hackers are zeroing in on targeting recipients of the CERB.

Many insurers offer consumers identity theft and fraud protection as an add-on to a home insurance, condo insurance, or tenant insurance policy. This additional coverage is not expensive, and often, it is included in a home insurance premium. But you may need to ask your broker or insurer whether or not they provide this type of protection.

What Is Personal Cybercrime Insurance and What Does It Cover?

Personal cybercrime insurance is a means to protect you from such things as a data breach, identity theft, and fraud.

In essence, it provides you with financial protection if you suffer a cybersecurity attack, and your personal, digital data is compromised or stolen. The coverage typically helps you restore your computing systems, recover your stolen data, as well as the data of others’ information if you had it stored on your computer.

What Types of Cyberattacks Are There?

There is a broad range of cyberattacks hackers can deploy against individuals, including:

  • Ransomware – a malicious attack on your computer or laptop hard drive that encrypts it and blocks you from gaining access to your files. Hackers deploying this kind of attack will demand payment to unlock your device.
  • Identity theft – involves a hacker stealing your personal information for fraudulent purposes like opening a new credit card account or taking out a loan in your name. Identity thefts typically target things such as your name, driver’s licence number, or social insurance number.
  • Social engineering – is a way for hackers to manipulate you into giving up confidential data about yourself including your banking information, passwords to websites, or to get access to your personal computer and infect it with malware. It can be initiated through an email or a social networking site. The goal of social engineering is to get you to do something that is not in your best interest.
  • Malware – is an overarching term for any piece of malicious software designed to exploit a computer or network. Most online threats are a form of malware such as a virus, spyware, or ransomware.
  • Phishing – is typically carried out via email. It is a form of social engineering that can also be initiated through a text message or a fake webpage when an individual clicks on a link from an unknown source and is duped into providing personal data. The goal of a phishing attack is usually to get a person’s credit card number or login credentials to steal sensitive information.
  • Spear phishing – involves a fraudulent email from a hacker posing as a trustworthy friend or source that targets a specific individual to gain access to confidential or financial information. It is one of the most successful types of cyberattacks.

How to Protect Yourself Against a Cybersecurity Attack or Data Breach

Here are a few ways to protect yourself and safeguard your personal information from a cyberattack:

  • Install a firewall, antivirus, and antispyware software on your computer or laptop and keep it updated
  • Use strong passwords and change them at least twice a year. Do not use the same password for different devices or websites. Never share your passwords or bank or credit card personal identification numbers with anyone
  • Be smart using social media and don’t overshare
  • Back up all data on your computers and mobile phones regularly
  • Keep your computer and mobile phone operating systems updated
  • Do not open emails or click on links in emails or text messages from sources or people you do not know
  • Periodically check your banking and credit card statements. Immediately report any entries you do not recognize to your bank or credit card provider
  • If you move, notify Canada Post, the transportation agency in your province such as the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, as well as your bank and credit card provider of your new residential mailing address

If you suspect you are a victim of identity theft or fraud, report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, as well as to the two national credit bureaus in Canada: TransUnion Canada and Equifax Canada.

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