Cyber-liability for the food industry – a holistic approach

From safeguarding your top-secret recipes and ensuring 24/7 availability of online ordering systems, to protecting your business in the event of food spoilage or equipment failures, one thing is for sure: the food industry grapple with distinctive challenges and require tailored cyber-liability insurance.

Add to these hazards, “business interruption” and “loss of reputation or brand value” – named the two top risks faced by the food and beverages industry internationally in the Allianz Risk Barometer Top Business Risks 2017. As both these risks are increasingly triggered by non-damage events such as cybercrime, cyber-liability insurance is a form of cover food businesses urgently need to acquire a taste for.

This is especially true in South Africa where Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) identified “cyber incidents” as 2017’s most important business risk, reportedly costing the country’s economy R6bn annually.

Restaurants are a particularly juicy target for cybercriminals as thousands of patrons daily swipe their credit or debit cards through their systems, resulting in these businesses handling huge amounts of personally identifiable information.

While SA is still reeling from the effects of May’s headline-hitting ransomware attack, businesses are fast realising the importance of cyber insurance. The good news is that the SA insurance industry has been rising to the occasion, offering differently-structured solutions.

Celeste Buitendag, Cyber Underwriter, SHA Specialist Underwriters, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Santam, is quoted: “Our cover is designed to negate the losses to a business in terms of: reputation by covered fees for a public relations service, getting a network up and running by offering access to highly skilled IT professionals and covering the financial losses that the business has experienced. As a stand-alone policy or top-up on an existing policy, cyber-liability cover is a strong pre-emptive strike to ensure a business is less vulnerable in this area.”

AIG in SA’s cyber liability cover includes event management, network business interruption and cyber extortion insurance, while AGCS offers Cyber Protect, “a suite of cyber insurance products where each policy offers a customised solution based on your company’s risk profile and specific needs”.

As companies employ different business processes and IT systems, and vary in risks, exposures and culture, it’s suggested they follow a holistic approach to cyber risk management – rather than look for a one-size-fits-all, generic cyber insurance product.

As Kerry Curtin, Business Unit Manager: Financial Institutions, Aon South Africa, says on MoneyMarketing: “While some categories of losses might be covered under standard policies, many significant gaps often exist. Risk managers should work with their insurance advisors to analyse such policies and determine any potential gaps in existing coverage because cyber events can impact numerous lines of insurance coverage.”

In addition to adequate insurance, Buitendag advises businesses to not “skimp on IT support”.

At Evolv Networks, we know your food business’s back office needs to run like clockwork. Catering for back-up support, network maintenance and system optimisation, we sure-fire IT solutions so you can get on with the business of serving culinary wonders.

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