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Jereme BatesThe "smart home" market is booming. It seems everything is "smart" these days;  computers, TV's, phones, tablets, refrigerators, thermostats, digital assistants, etc... The list goes on and on. These make our lives more convenient and they are not going anywhere, as the demand and capabilities continue to expand. Many of these devices connect to the web, giving a criminal an access point into your device, and eventually access to your home network, where they can see all of your connected devices and can pick and choose what to hack next.

The scenario I described isn't identity theft, which may be partially covered partially by a homeowner's policy, rather it's a personal breach, which can then be used to bully, extort, or even require you to live up to the notification requirements that the big corporations know so well.

Unfortunately, it doesn't stop there. What if you're doing everything right and fall prey to a phishing scam? (Where someone convinces you to send them money and you do, only to find out it wasn't real). These scams have gotten very sophisticated with criminals posing as your bank, mortgage company, IRS, etc. You truly believe you are sending a trusted source the money you owe them only to find out it was all a scam. Will your bank cover your voluntary release of funds? Will your credit card company? This isn't a stolen account or card number, this is you sending them money because they convinced you it's legit. The answer is that most banks and credit card companies do have rules surrounding voluntary release, and do not cover such a loss. That's not to say all banks will deny your loss, but for the average Joe, you'll be covering that loss out of your pocket.

So, how do we protect ourselves from the "smart" world? Of course we continue to be proactive using chip cards, secure web sites, password apps, and services like LifeLock, etc. Additionally, the insurance market has responded as well with a few new products designed to protect us against cybercrime, extortion, bullying, notification costs, data recovery, legal expense, and reimbursement. A personal cyber policy is designed to bridge the gap between your standard homeowners' policy and your personal cyber exposure. These are affordable and customizable, and we are sure to see even more options in the coming months and years.

Data breach and cyber liability;  it's that thing where large corporations are careless with our personal information, they get hacked, and we sit and wait to see if our identity has been stolen, right? Not anymore! Big corporations are becoming wiser to the exposures and expenses, beefing up their security and leaving individuals as the low-lying fruit for cyber criminals to attack. Be prepared! Contact the Bates Insurance Group for more information.

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