Cyber security has become a top of mind issue for commercial organizations across the world. Most big corporations have strong disciplines and risk management procedures in place to ensure cyber resilience is tight. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for a typical home network.
Poor cyber hygiene at home is the gateway that enables cyber criminals to get personal. An open home Wi-Fi connection versus a password protected system could make all the difference if a bad actor attempts to hack a personal bank account or bitcoin wallet.
High net worth (HNW) individuals with deep pockets are particularly at risk of personal cyberattacks. Member-owned PURE Insurance, which serves HNW clients, has developed an innovative cyber fraud offering to protect PURE members from falling prey to cybercrime.
PURE Starling, available as an add-on to homeowners’ insurance, provides broad coverage for fraud and cybercrime, including financial loss resulting from online and offline fraud, and services to help assess and respond to cyber extortion threats, remove malware and reinstall software after an attack.
“The issue of cyber insurance was born out of feedback from our PURE members, who were starting to express concerns about data security and the privacy of their personal information,” explained Martin Hartley, chief operating officer, PURE. “Arguably the biggest threat they face is having their money stolen from them in some way.
“Our members tend to spend money. A lot of them are involved in purchase transactions at various points in the year (home renovation and purchase, etc.), and it’s those transactions that are vulnerable to fraud. We’re aware of incidents where criminals have infiltrated email streams at crucial points in the purchase transactions and switched wire transfer instructions with fraudulent alternatives. People think they’re buying a house but they’re actually wiring money to a criminal.”
Individuals don’t have to be in the midst of a purchase transaction to be vulnerable to fraud. Bank account breaches are common, and often start with a criminal hacking a personal email system, seeing how a person requests a wire transfer from their bank, and then initiating a fraudulent copycat transaction.
The black market for personal data is thriving, particularly in relation to credit card or bank account details of HNW individuals. The cost of purchasing high value bank accounts is pricey, but criminals are willing to pay because they believe they can empty that bank account, Hartley commented.
“PURE Starling was launched in 2017 to protect our membership from fraud and cybercrime,” he said. “It covers online and offline fraud, and it also covers digital wallet theft of bitcoin. Criminals are using the same ploys to target holders of bitcoin in hot wallets as they are against bank account holders.
“The second element of the coverage is centered around cyber extortion – the situation where a homeowner logs into a personal computer to find their files have been encrypted and connected to a ransomware demand for $2,500 in bitcoin. We provide help in resolving any issues and cleaning up the home systems after something happens.”
Aside from purchasing insurance coverage, there are lots of simple things homeowners can do to improve their cyber hygiene at home. They can use password managers to come up with long and complex passwords, which can then be used to protect online accounts and home connected systems. Using multi-factor authentication during banking and other monetary transactions is also key, according to Hartley.
“At PURE, we want to help our members deliver a corporate level of cyber security to their home networks,” he said.