In an unprecedented decision, a Texas grand jury charged and arrested a man of “intentionally, knowingly, and recklessly” cyberstalking and deliberately causing bodily harm to another person with a deadly weapon. The “deadly weapon” in question was a GIF graphic image designed to provoke an epileptic seizure in the recipient who was known to have epilepsy.
This event raises a number of pointed questions about the future of internet safety. While we have already witnessed a number of unfortunate ways in which people have used the internet to harm others - whether it be cyberbullying, stalking, or hacking - all previous methods of online harassment have been indirect, with much of the damage being inflicted on the victim’s mental health, or potentially their possessions in some hacking cases. This particular case marks a gruesome landmark: someone has caused someone bodily harm with a digital weapon over the internet.
Internet safety advice – such as not giving out your personal information to unsavory folk, not opening attachments from unknown sources, not visiting questionable websites – is rapidly becoming outdated as technology marches onward.
Cyber insurance hasn’t anticipated this either
This frightening new possibility of inflicting harm to someone from a faraway computer does bring up a number of questions about cyber security measures, insurance, and whether or not this could be classified under current policies. Current cyber insurance policies, for example, are designed to help businesses recover from losses due to cyber-related issues such as data breaches, ransomware, or violations of privacy laws. An issue of bodily harm arising from the internet could be covered under a workers’ compensation policy instead, but current workers’ compensation policies do not include any information about compensating workers for lost time due to digital files.
Clearly there are no easy answers on how to address cyber-crimes such as this. The cyber landscape is changing every day. So it is best to maintain an open channel of communication with your broker to ensure your business and employees are covered even when faced with unprecedented criminal acts.
Contact your HUB broker today to learn more about the available coverages to keep you on pace with the latest technological developments and protected from any new cyber threats.