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October: Baseball, Pumpkins, and Cybersecurity

To many of us, October is when the baseball playoffs begin, when costumes and pumpkins fill store shelves, and when red, yellow, and purple foliage heralds the coming of winter. But for more than a decade, October has also been a time to raise awareness about the dangers lurking in cyberspace, the cyber criminals who want both tricks and treats. It’s called National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), and there are a number of ways you can help promote it:

  • Download posters and letterhead and share messages about cyber safety on social media using #ncsam.
  • Offer classes to employees on how to avoid cyber attacks, and present participants with certificates of appreciation.
  • Hire white hat hackers to find vulnerabilities in your company’s computer systems.

This month, it might not be that hard to remember what NCSAM is all about. JPMorgan Chase said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week that the data breach it suffered this summer affected about 76 million households and 7 million of the company’s small-business customers. The company said the data breach compromised user names, addresses, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers but that there was no evidence that any account information was compromised. The company said it “continues to vigilantly monitor the situation and is continuing to investigate the matter.”

Regardless of what happens, it’s critical that cybersecurity be part of your business operations all year long. Instead of thinking about a data breach as a possibility for your business, think of it as inevitable. How would you notify customers and regulators? Would you offer free credit monitoring (now required in California) and set up a call center? How would you investigate the incident? And last but not least, who would pay for all of it? Cyber insurance can help.

If you want to enter the cyber insurance market or learn about any of ISO’s various cyber offerings, visit the ISO Cyber Risk Solutions website,, or e-mail me at You can also follow me on Twitter @doughertyshawn.

Shawn Dougherty

Shawn Dougherty is the assistant vice president of ISO's Specialty Commercial Lines Division. He is responsible for providing the overall direction, leadership, and client service for ISO's cyber liability (e-commerce), D&O (management protection), businessowners, crime and fidelity, financial institutions, employment-related practices liability, and professional liability (other than medical) insurance programs. He is also the ISO product manager for the Lloyd's Wordings Repository, an electronic database of policy wordings and clauses regularly used within the London market. Mr. Dougherty has worked at ISO since 1988.

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