Protection against cyber attacks

Frankfurt Surfing the Internet almost anywhere and anytime with a smartphone and laptop has long been part of our everyday life. But in the wake of the corona crisis, many online services are in even greater demand. According to a survey by the digital association Bitkom, 94 percent of Internet users over the age of 16 order goods online. A fifth of respondents said they have ordered more online than before before the pandemic.

Anyone who travels more online has to expect more trouble. According to Europol, cybercrime is currently increasing: the EU police authority sees signs of increased phishing and ransomware attacks. Criminals then try to access user data via fake websites, or they block computers using malware and demand a ransom.

In 2018, the Federal Criminal Police Office registered more than 87,000 cases of cyber crime. According to the Association of the German Insurance Industry (GDV), around 40 percent of private internet users in Germany have been victims of a cyber attack.

One way to protect yourself financially against such risks is to take out cyber insurance. According to the GDV, around 40 percent of Germans would protect themselves against the risk of a hacker attack. Insurance for identity and data theft would be important for another 20 percent.

In the 6/2020 issue, the consumer magazine “Finanztest” examined 19 cyber insurance policies for private individuals from 15 providers for the first time. The testers found that there are no standard solutions yet. The insurers offer various types of assistance, there are policies with and without legal protection.

A detailed look at the evaluation shows that most insurance companies offer initial psychological and legal advice on cyberbullying. This refers to cases in which the victim is insulted or threatened via social networks. With some insurers, customers can book legal protection.

A tariff with legal protection for damages helps if the insured persons demand compensation from the perpetrator. In the case of criminal legal protection, the insurance covers legal costs for the insured or other persons’ criminal acts against him. A criminal offense by the insured person would be, for example, if he accidentally downloads a copyrighted video.

Deletion of damaging data

In addition, some cyber insurance companies include the search for and deletion of personal and reputation-damaging data on the Internet, especially in the Darknet. This is the part of the Internet that cannot be found via the usual search engines and in which users want to remain anonymous.

Most cyber policies also cover data recovery costs to some extent, such as when files are lost due to malware. Elke Weidenbach, insurance expert from the Consumer Advice Center in North Rhine-Westphalia, points out that consumers could also use such services independently of a cyber policy: “It may be cheaper to order separately.”

Frequently, however, the tariffs also pay in the event of financial losses in online trading, which the insured person may incur, for example, from non-delivery or incorrect delivery. Last but not least, there are cyber insurance policies that take on damage to third parties.

Overall, “Finanztest” judges that the insurer Arag offers a wide range of services. The tariffs for individuals cost between 42 euros and 212 euros per year. With legal protection, the Webaktiv Komfort tariff is good; without legal protection, the testers consider the Cyberguard tariff from Inter to be suitable.

Check existing policies

Many risks also cover other insurance policies. Weidenbach says: “Before taking out a cyber policy, Internet users should first check what protection is available from existing insurance policies.” Often the money can then be saved.

Legal expenses insurance covers court, lawyer and expert fees if the insured want to assert their interests after a case of cyberbullying. Private liability insurance protects consumers against damage that they inflict on a third party, for example if they accidentally transmit a computer virus.

Household insurance protects against damage caused by data theft during online banking. And health insurance, whether statutory or private, covers the treatment costs if an Internet user goes to the doctor for cyberbullying.

Regardless of insurance, consumers should protect their computers with passwords and virus programs. “Finanztest” advises to also update the operating system regularly. With cyber policies, all of this is often in the terms.

“Consumers should definitely clarify with the insurance company what protective measures are required before concluding the contract,” emphasizes consumer protection activist Weidenbach. “Often, they shouldn’t miss an update on their virus programs, because the insurer could then blame them for any damage that occurs.”

In addition, consumers should disclose as little data as possible on the Internet. For example, there are always warnings against sending account numbers to strangers or clicking on suspicious links. “Your own behavior does a lot to minimize risks on the Internet”, Weidenbach is convinced.

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