Riverhead Town looking into cyber insurance policy

In the wake of cyber attacks against a neighboring town and companies like Home Depot, Riverhead Town is planning to get cyber insurance.

“When Home Depot was hacked, they put a number on what it could cost them and it was an astronomical amount of money,” Supervisor Sean Walter said at Thursday’s Town Board meeting. “I said to [town finance administrator Bill Rothaar], ‘We need to make sure we’re insured against this. We can take all the precautions. We can have all the firewalls. We can do anything that anybody else does, but there’s always going to be some weakness that somebody somewhere is going to exploit.’”

The Town Board is expected to hire Gallagher Bassett for $13,000 to provide up to $1 million in insurance against cyber attacks for one year.

Mr. Walter said cyber insurance was discussed at the Association of Towns of the State of New York’s convention in January since several municipalities have been hacked.

Brookhaven Town’s computers were hacked and the suspect is allegedly a member of a civic association, Mr. Walter said. He didn’t identify the suspect or provide further details about the incident at Thursday’s meeting.

“This world is going to change as we go because of the things that happened,” Mr. Rothaar said. “In the past, people thought municipalities didn’t have information and no one was going to try and get information from municipalities, but that’s changed. They are looking all over.”

Mr. Walter added: “Somebody steals a handful of security numbers from us and we might not even know because it didn’t effect us. Then they go to Visa, create Visa accounts and Visa will come back against Riverhead because we were the weak link.”

Not everyone is in favor of purchasing cyber insurance.

“I can think of other things I’d like to do with $13,000 if we had it in the bank account,” Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said.

“I can’t think of anything more beneficial to us than protecting the residents against a huge cyber attack,” Mr. Walter responded.

If approved, the town’s cyber insurance policy will go into effect in July.

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