Adapting to a new era of risk

By Erin Ayers on September 18, 2014

safecrackerIn her 1978 book “A Distant Mirror,” which details the daily miseries faced by denizens of 14th century Europe, historian Barbara W. Tuchman commented, “Disaster is rarely as pervasive as it seems from recorded accounts…After absorbing the news of today, one expects to face a world consisting entirely of strikes, crimes, power failures, broken water mains, stalled trains, school shutdowns, muggers, drug addicts, neo-Nazis, and rapists. The fact is that one can come home in the evening–on a lucky day–without having encountered more than one or two of these phenomena.”

If, in this century, all of these disasters aren’t befalling the general public on a regular basis and we aren’t facing plagues that decimate one-third of the population in two years. It’s down to a healthy amount of risk management and awareness on the part of individuals and businesses. Also probably penicillin.

However, one area in which the news continues to sound an alarm, perhaps rightfully, includes corporate security and persistent data breach problems. These events continue to occur and many in the cybersecurity sphere have said flatly that the bad guys are winning.

Are they right?

Hackers and other wrongdoers are clearly relentless in their attacks and organizations and consumers appear ill-equipped to maintain their privacy and data security when faced with that type of dedication to malice.

On the other hand, there are multitudes of sharp eyes and minds on the lawful side of this equation. We as a security-enjoying society have the tools necessary to fight the crimes being committed. The problem is, many consumers and businesses are still in the Dark Ages when it comes to understanding and employing those tools.

We need to apply the same sort of awareness that we do to avoid all the other risks to cyber risk. That takes time and understanding.

This disaster is pretty darn prevalent – but it doesn’t have to spell ruin for consumers, banks, retailers, anyone. It’s a new risk, a developing concern, but one that can be fully understood and fought.'

Erin is the managing editor of Advisen’s Front Page News. She has been covering property-casualty insurance since 2000. Previously, Erin served as editor-in-chief of The Standard, New England’s Insurance Weekly. Erin is based in Boston, Mass. Contact Erin at [email protected].