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Locked Out


We deal with disaster restoration every day, and we’ve seen just about everything that can bring a business to a sudden halt … fire damage, water damage, storm damage, mold/mildew, you name it. Business owners understand these risks and take care to manage them with proper insurance coverage. Losses like these still have an impact on operations to be sure, but the financial burden is usually manageable.

Much less widely understood is the issue of cyber threats and the need for cyber liability coverage. The latest exhibit here was the worldwide outbreak a couple of weeks ago of the ransomware called WannaCry. Talk about appropriately named: more than 200,000 users in 150 countries had their PCs locked down by online vandals demanding ransom to unencrypt the files. And unlike previous ransomware variants, this one showed the ability to infect entire networks.

According to early estimates, the hackers reaped less than $100,000 in ransom payments, so it would seem that we collectively got off easy. But no: the total cost to the business world exceeded $4 billion. That’s billion with a ‘b.’ Hospitals in the UK were unable to access patient records, entire plants in Europe remained closed in an effort to avoid infection, and the list of impacted firms included names like Nissan and Renault.

Every organization has some defenses in place, but many don’t understand the real weak link: their employees. All it takes is one hurried staffer clicking on a link they shouldn’t (and in testing, 1 in 4 do exactly that), and just like that you have a really big problem.

Even though we make a living restoring damage from disasters, we prefer to see them prevented, so please: ponder for just a moment what would happen if you couldn’t access your customer data, or worse, if a hacker got to it and released it into the wild. Yes, make sure you have anti-virus and firewall measures in place, but that’s just the beginning. You need to train your employees and to make sure you’re adequately covered if the worst happens.  The future of your business may depend on it.

Mike Popowski is President of PBI Restorations. Reach him at