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You Downloaded a Virus and Lost All Your Data. Now What?

Slamming the keyboard and smacking the monitor might relieve your frustration, but it won’t cure the virus that’s infected your computer. It also won’t restore the documents and spreadsheets that you worked on for weeks.

That’s why businesses of all shapes and sizes need to know what I like to call the “Three I’s” of computer virus protection: Install, Inform, and Insure.

Install antivirus software (AVS). Some security experts say it’s more important not to open strange messages or access suspicious websites than it is to install AVS. They say AVS has lost its value because hackers today use the software to test viruses before releasing them. But AVS is constantly evolving, with several companies competing to keep our computers safe. These days, all businesses should install some version of AVS and allow it to update regularly.

Inform staff. AVS software can protect only against viruses it knows, but new viruses are created all the time that can infect a company’s computer system. The only way to stay safe is to inform employees of the dangers of opening suspicious emails, attachments, and links to unfamiliar websites. At the same time, they need to know the importance of saving their work somewhere other than their computer, whether it’s a company-owned server or the cloud. This will make any future data restoration much easier.

Insure against future loss. This last “I” may not always be on a company’s list of priorities, but it’s important. Insurers offer policies that cover the replacement or restoration of electronic data and software lost because of a cyber attack. That means that after the virus has infected your computer, the insurer will cover the cost of hiring computer specialists or data entry staff to restore your pre-virus state.

It’s also important to note that such insurance policies don’t cover viruses only. They also indemnify companies for denial of service (DOS) attacks — designed to prevent people from using their computers — and malicious code, or malware, a broad term that describes viruses and other code designed to harm a computer. Malicious code includes “worms” and “Trojan horses”.

The bottom line: Remember the three I’s and rest assured that you’ve done everything in your power to protect your data and stay virus-free.

If you’d like to learn about other aspects of cyber-liability insurance, please email me at Also, make sure to follow me on Twitter @doughertyshawn.

Stay tuned for the next blog post in our Cyber Monday Series.

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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