The Internet’s Broken, But Cyber Insurers Can Help Fix It

The inventor of the World Wide Web says we can do better with this connective platform. Insurance has an opportunity to do just that.
By: | March 25, 2019

Thirty years ago, the World Wide Web was born. And since, it has shaped the way humans interact, conduct business and communicate globally.

However, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, credited with the invention of the web, says the internet needs to be “changed for the better in the next 30” in a recent article with the World Wide Web Foundation. 

Berners-Lee explained that “while the web has created opportunity, given marginalized groups a voice, and made our daily lives easier, it has also created opportunity for scammers, given a voice to those who spread hatred, and made all kinds of crime easier to commit.”

What’s Wrong With the Internet

Berners-Lee identified 3 things that he finds particularly dysfunctional about the internet today:

  1. Deliberate, malicious intent, which spans everything from state-sponsored hacking to online harassment.
  2. System design that creates perverse incentives, like ad structures that reward clickbait.
  3. Unintended negative consequences, like rewarding outlandish opinions rather than quality discourse.

“You can’t just blame one government, one social network or the human spirit. Simplistic narratives risk exhausting our energy as we chase the symptoms of these problems instead of focusing on their root causes. To get this right, we will need to come together as a global web community.”

He called on governments to promote policies that allow openness, competition and innovation — and “take action when private sector interests threaten the public good.” He called on companies and tech employees to demand better business practices. He called on citizens to hold those governments and companies accountable.

“The fight for the web is one of the most important causes of our time. Today, half of the world is online. It is more urgent than ever to ensure the other half are not left behind offline, and that everyone contributes to a web that drives equality, opportunity and creativity.”

Getting Insurance Involved

Taking that one step further, just as the internet continues to grow and change, businesses and the insurance companies behind them must also evolve alongside it. We are all engaged in some avenue of the internet and its innovation; the insurance industry can make its own mark in driving opportunity and expanding internet best practices.

For starters, privacy needs to be top of mind, and data security is a must. The entire data privacy paradigm has led a prominent insurance broker estimating the cyber market could hit $10 billion by 2020. The cyber threat is big and growing fast, but the good news is cyber insurance is taking off with most stand-alone policies paying out.

“Many countries have a cyber command and a whole cyber strategy,” Ofer Israeli, CEO of Illusive Networks, told Risk & Insurance®. ” … Part of the challenge the world has in cyber is that if something is out, it’s out, and it can be utilized by a different threat actor pretty easily. So if I’m a cyber criminal and I get hold of something that Iran has developed, I can weaponize that very quickly and use it.”

Meanwhile tech companies — which are being attacked on multiple fronts — must evolve too. 

While 2020 Presidential candidates (like Elizabeth Warren) are calling for the breakup of big tech companies, their “toxic content” could lead to billions in fines by European regulators.

On the other side of things, tech companies seem to be frantically trying to figure out how to protect user data and privacy while simultaneously removing bots from their platforms. It’s a wild ride that shows no signs on slowing down.

But as Berners-Lee sees it, all the heavy lifting now could lead to a future we’re all proud of.

“If we give up on building a better web now,” he wrote, “then the web will not have failed us. We will have failed the web.”

Further Reading:

What’s Really Going on With Net Neutrality?

Thinking of Expanding Your Business Overseas? Your Cyber Security Compliance Just Got More Complicated

Top 5 Privacy and Cyber Regulations and Why They Should Concern Risk Managers

Jared Shelly is a journalist based in Philadelphia. He can be reached at [email protected]

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