Paul Cullum, Alternative Distribution Manager, HSB Engineering Insurance looks at how to assess your risk of cyber attack

There is now a good level of understanding of the dangers which businesses face from a cyber-attack. However, are consumers fully aware of just how vulnerable they are to cyber threats? As our homes increasingly adopt the latest technologies, are we unwittingly exposing ourselves to more risk?

Cyber risks for households can be grouped into three categories: what you have; who you are; and what you do.

What you have, covers direct attacks on the technology hardware that a person has; such as laptops, tablets, security equipment and internet enabled appliances. While individual devices have robust security systems (smart phones for example) people may not be aware of the common vulnerability that exists through their Wi-Fi settings or other factory set connected hardware.

Who you are relates to the online footprint you leave behind when using social media, gaming or purchasing online. This footprint makes it easier for others to obtain vast amounts of personal data. It can be used in identity theft fraud or, increasingly, to conduct highly targeted “spear phishing” attacks where individuals can be fooled into transferring money to someone posing as a trusted source.

The risk of what you do concerns your liability online, regarding what you say, and conversations you are involved in. This is an area of risk which is gaining more attention. People have a tendency to let their guards down online, but as the McAlpine twitter storm and other recent court cases show, the law applies equally to online content. In the US, legal action resulting from twitter content has become so common that the term “Twibel” has been coined. In addition, more businesses are now taking legal action against individuals for their online reviews if they are felt to be unfair or malicious.

With cyber bullying incidents on the rise, there are also increasing concerns over the emotional and psychological harm for individuals, particularly the young and vulnerable. This can require access to advice, counselling, private tuition costs and even relocation costs in extreme examples.

As individuals understand their personal cyber and online exposure better, many are now seeking protection for their homes and family. The challenge for insurers is to ensure that home cyber insurance solutions offer a cohesive package of coverages, aimed at protecting the technological, financial, legal or emotional risks families can face online.