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Senate panel takes up cyber insurance issues

Senate panel takes up cyber insurance issues

A single federal standard for notifying victims of cyber security breaches is preferable to the current patchwork of state laws, an attorney who is also a professor of insurance law told a Senate panel on Thursday

Michael Menapace, counsel in the Hartford, Connecticut, office of Wiggin & Dana L.L.P. and an adjunct professor of law at Hamden, Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University, made that observation as the Senate Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security held its first hearing on cyber insurance.

Mr. Menapace noted that that current system of 47 state standards plus standards promulgated by the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are not uniform in terms of how they are triggered and what information must be contained in them. A uniform standard would reduce the cost of breach responses and enhance consumer protection, he said.

The subcommittee's chairman, Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., said cyber insurance “may be a market-led approach to help businesses improve their cyber security posture by tying policy eligibility or lower premiums to better cyber security practices.”

Ben Beeson, the Washington-based vice president for cyber security and privacy with Lockton Cos. L.L.C., agreed, saying the cyber insurance is an important market force that can drive improved cyber security for companies. Mr. Beeson said that Lockton and “we believe the industry as a whole” would welcome the introduction of legislation that would reduce barriers and encourage organizations to share threat indicators with the government and each other while also protecting individual privacy.

Catherine Mulligan, senior vice president of the management solutions group at Zurich North America, pointed out that discussions on greater sharing of information between public and private bodies are currently underway. She said that while it's too early to come to any definitive conclusions, the “potential upside” of the discussions is that more comprehensive information will help insurers in developing both coverage and risk management solutions for their policyholders.

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