Column: Roger's Soapbox

Cyber Security’s Latest Buzz

By: | September 14, 2016

Roger Crombie is a United Kingdom-based columnist for Risk & Insurance®. He can be reached at [email protected]

Insurers, here’s a pop quiz. How secure are you that you fully understand all the risks you have accepted on behalf of your clients? That your book of business contains no surprises?

My guess is that you think you’re pretty secure, and my other guess is that you’re really not. One example should suffice, but before I explain, a trigger warning to decent folk: The subject is sex toys.

Right. Now that I have your attention … are you prepared to pay out when hostile forces take over your client’s love machines?

Far-fetched? Far from it. One vibrator on the market reports back to its manufacturer on the behavior of the toy’s owner. Worse, it can be commandeered by hackers.

Full disclosure: I know nothing of sex toys. In fact, I’m mortified just writing about them.

Insurers must cope with unknowable change while providing insureds with good vibrations.

Here are some facts, to steady the ship.

Advertisement




“Two years ago, someone had the good idea to put a Bluetooth connection inside a vibrator,” The Guardian newspaper reported. The vibrator can be linked to a smartphone app that controls it remotely. One party tells the vibrator what to do, and the other party, well, I dunno.

At a hacking conference, two independent hackers from New Zealand reported that the link between the vibrator and the app is not secure. A hacker could take control of the vibrator at a crucial moment and, well, I dunno.

Two million hackable vibrators have been sold. People could be unaware that they’re having virtual sex with total strangers, although in some circles that might be considered a good thing.

Sooner or later, though, hackees must surely come to the conclusion that advantage has been taken of them and demand recompense. Does your company cover vibrator hacking?

The app reports the temperature of the vibrator to its manufacturer every minute, and also reports changes in the intensity of the vibrations.

“What are the implications of who they’re going to give that data to?” asked one of the hackers.

In a statement, manufacturer Standard Innovation said the information was for “market research purposes, so that we can better understand what settings and levels of intensity are most enjoyed.” So that’s alright then.

If the readers of this magazine, the world’s smartest insurance people, were asked to list 100 utterly bizarre risks, not one of them would have written down “vibrator hacking.”

Insurers must cope with unknowable change while providing insureds with good vibrations. By the time the unimaginable becomes imaginable and then becomes hard fact, the risk is routinely covered and insurers are worrying about even more absurd risks that they might one day be asked to cover.

That’s why insurance is so fascinating to the observer — no one ever has any idea what’s coming next. &

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Risk Matrix: Presented by Liberty Mutual Insurance

11 Crucial Trends That Are Impacting the Construction Industry Today

Increased hurricanes, opioids, women workers and more are just some of the latest trends driving construction risk.
By: | November 1, 2019




The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]