Insuring Your PC Against Hackers
By Jane Hodges

(FORTUNE Magazine) – If insurers have their way, cautious companies will buy one of the dozens of new computer-crime policies designed to protect corporate America's swelling digital assets.

These days there's a policy for almost every electronic nightmare. Chubb's new ForeFront plan offers up to $10 million against digital fraud, theft, and extortion. Travelers' SafeWeb insurance gives companies with transaction-capable Websites cash to settle with customers thwarted online. And Cigna's "information asset protection" division sells anti-hacker policies that cover up to 10% of a company's revenues. (This figure approximates the amount a company would lose after 30 days of system downtime, says Nick Economidis, director of the information-asset-protection group.)

Analysts say the policies aren't just marketing bunk. In fact there's a decent chance they'll be claimed, according to statistics from Computer Security Institute in San Francisco. About 30% of the companies it polled were victimized by hackers. The total loss from computer crime: $120 million.

Sure, corporate technology teams can still fight cybercrime with encryption programs, firewalls, and antivirus software. Indeed most computer-crime insurers urge--and, in Cigna's case, require--an outside security assessment before a company buys a policy. But when all else fails, no amount of technology can offer backup the insurers do: cash.

--Jane Hodges