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When It Comes to Cybersecurity, All Bets Are Off

In February, a major cyber attack erased hard drives and shut down computers at two popular Las Vegas casinos, The Venetian and The Palazzo. But according to a report in Bloomberg Businessweek, the hackers weren’t looking to steal the casinos’ money. Rather, they wanted to punish the company — specifically its CEO, Sheldon Adelson. The suspects were believed to be Iranian, according to the report, and targeted Adelson because of a speech he gave last year at a New York City college in which he described how he would handle Iran’s nuclear program.  Instead of traditional negotiations, he said would demonstrate a nuclear weapon for Iran to see. The video was posted to YouTube and, two weeks later, according to reports, prompted a response from Iran’s Supreme Leader.

I highly doubt that President Obama would authorize that type of tactic anytime soon. But make no mistake: Our government is well aware of the growing cyber threats emanating from overseas, as are the employees at Sony Pictures. Many of them are probably suffering from email regret right about now.

Unfortunately, the reality today is that it’s not just credit card accounts and Social Security numbers that are valuable to hackers. It’s also our ability — or potential inability — to conduct business, communicate internally, and retain the confidence of customers and shareholders.

Keep that in mind before you open a suspicious email, download an attachment, or make any public comments about a foreign country. And write your emails as if everyone is going to read them.

If you want to enter the cyber insurance market or learn about any of ISO’s various cyber insurance product offerings, visit the ISO Cyber Risk Solutions website,, or email 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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