Data Breaches: Are You Covered for Cyber Liability?

Home automation systems hacked. Credit card information stolen. Social security numbers swiped. Digital breaches like these could easily affect your business. Are you covered for such situations?

At the Authorized Integrators Network (AIN) conference in Tampa, Fla., this week, a couple of experts reminded dealers that they need protection from would-be data thieves both within and outside of the company.

Attorney Bryan Lawrence of Buchanan, Ingersoll, Rooney PC, which has a practice dedicated to security and other installation businesses, advised dealers to use caution when collecting and storing customers’ personal information such as social security numbers.

He notes for starters that you should avoid collecting social security numbers entirely if possible.

Even for credit checks, “you can do that with other information,” he says.

If such information must be collected, “I encourage you to do it in some fashion that doesn’t end up being on the contract, like putting it on a separate piece of paper,” Lawrence notes. “The same thing goes for credit card info.”

He explains that contracts are used for a long period of time, and employees come and go. Keep personal data off of documents that may have wide exposure throughout the company.

In another presentation, insurance expert Cheryl Jones of OnPoint Underwriting noted that traditional insurance does not cover cyber liability. She advised AIN dealers to acquire separate insurance for that.

She also suggested that dealers subcontract out their credit card transactions to third parties to “limit exposure.”

Talk to your attorneys and insurance agents to ensure you don’t lose your business over seemingly innocuous digital and data-collection practices.

Julie Jacobson is co-founder of EH Publishing and currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro, mostly in the areas of home automation, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. She majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. Julie is a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player with the scars to prove it. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson.

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