Does Cyber Insurance Cover Online Blackmail?

Caeva O'Callaghan | October 1st, 2021

Hackers deploy all sorts of nefarious means to try and get what they want – but will your cyber insurance cover online blackmail or extortion?

Yes. In most cases this is known as “ransomware”, but there are some situations where that term would not apply. In any case, if extortion is taking place online, your cyber insurance should cover it.

In this article, we’ll discuss the following questions:

  • What do I do if I’m being blackmailed online?
  • What is ransomware?
  • Is valuable data covered by cyber insurance?

Ransomware and online blackmail are serious crimes. If you suspect foul play, do not delay in getting the authorities involved.

What do I do if I’m being blackmailed online?

If somebody is trying to extort you or your company over the internet, you should report it to the authorities immediately, before anything else.

Blackmail is when a hacker or other criminal obtains something valuable, and threatens to leak, destroy or keep it unless you give them a reward. The internet has opened up many more possibilities for cyber criminals to commit blackmail, and so it’s important to be aware of the dangers.

Hackers may obtain valuable information such as credit card numbers or passwords, private data such as internal company communications, or other sensitive data such as compromising photos. Any of these can be used as blackmailing material, as long as their intended victim wants it back badly enough.

If you’re a victim of online blackmail, the first thing you must remember is to not take matters into your own hands. Resorting to sending your own threats or trying to negotiate the release of the data by yourself will likely result in making the situation even worse.

Likewise, if you comply with their demands, it only increases the chances of them demanding more.

Instead, you should report it to the Gardai immediately – no matter how embarrassing or explicit the bargaining material is, or the circumstances in which it was obtained.

The authorities will give you a crime number, which you can pass onto your cyber insurance, which should be your next call. It’s essential you report cyber blackmail as you could prevent the same thing happening to other victims, as well as taking advantage of experts in the field to secure your data’s return.

What is ransomware?

When a hacker freezes your systems and will unlock them in return for a payment – normally in untraceable cryptocurrency – this is an instance of ransomware. The same term can apply to any software which locks up your network and demands payment in any form for its release.

Dangerous for your business and profitable for hackers, ransomware targets are often small to medium enterprises which can afford a few hundred euros each time but which haven’t got the resources to stop the infection. Normally, the user will unwittingly install the software without full consent, such as by clicking a link in an email or agreeing to terms and conditions that they didn’t read.

When you report an instance of ransomware to your insurance provider, they will provide you with a team of experienced experts to help you navigate the negotiation. Your provider will also help you put preventative measures in place to stop it happening again.

The data your cyber insurance will cover includes any information stored on your computer systems and back ups. If the information was stolen from your personal laptop or device, which isn’t on your cyber insurance policy, it’s unlikely your claim will be successful. The Gardai will help assist you in these circumstances.

Is valuable data covered by cyber insurance?

Yes. Any valuable data pertaining to the company or organisation the cyber insurance policy will be covered. What isn’t covered is any personal data such as photographs or texts you keep on your personal devices.

For example, if a hacker obtains compromising photo evidence from your personal smartphone and uses that to try and extort you, this would not be covered by your company’s cyber insurance policy. In these cases, it’s still essential to call the Garda as soon as possible, because they can help.

But if a hacker gets a hold of private information via your company networks or compromises your IT systems, that’s when your organisation’s cyber insurance comes into play.

You can keep your data safe by always updating software to the latest versions, installing the best antivirus software you can find, and never clicking suspicious links. If you give employees laptops or digital devices for the purposes of working remotely, give them sufficient training including what to do when they receive a strange-looking email, and to never use devices on public wifi networks.

When you keep your data safe, you help prevent a claim down the line and avoid a lot of costly hassle. Talk to our cyber insurance experts today and find out how best to protect your interests.





All Information in this post is accurate as of the date of publishing.