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Businesses Could Be Liable for Customers' Stolen Information

Illegal hacking accounted for more than two-thirds of data breaches last year, according to an industry report.
BRANSON, Mo. -- Businesses that handle sensitive information like credit history, social security numbers and medical records might face legal ramification if a computer hacker finds it.

Insurance companies often offer policies that cover liabilities from data loss. Akers and Arney, a Branson insurance broker, has been studying the heightened security risks in the area.

On Tuesday the firm invited David Derigiotis, an expert on cyber liability from the Detroit-based Burns and Wilcox, to talk about data security for businesses.

"It's come to forefront of people's minds nowadays," Derigiotis said. "Because the way we do business has evolved. Everything's on the go. They're not just using cell phones they're using smartphones. The way we store and send information has dramatically changed and evolved over the past few years. With that information being easily available, you have a risk for someone seeing that information and stealing that information."

Among the sources Derigiotis cited was a report from KPMG, a British consulting company. The report noted that hacking accounted for more than two-thirds of data breaches in 2012, and that the technology sector was especially at-risk.

Scott Ford, an IT specialist for a local bank, was one of several who attended the conference to learn about cyber liability. He said he was surprised at the ease which cyber thieves can break into a system.

"The bad guys, they're looking for the easy-to-get-to targets," he said. "The saying in the IT community is that nothing is impenetrable."

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