The Bombs in Our Basements

What insurance coverage do you actually have? Are you sure?

Whenever Im out of the loop for a week or more, I wonder what kind of time warp Ill experience when I return. When I began this month by taking five Boy Scouts on a 30-mile backpack trip through Donohue Pass, on the east edge of Yosemite, we came down from the mountaintops to find ourselves in a world that might have been lifted from cyber-punk fiction.

In the Middle East, Explosive Pumped Flux Generator "lightning bombs" are apparently in the arsenal for potential use in Iraq, ready to take out command-and-control systems. Do not try this at home, please. I dont want to see these things at the next science fair that I judge.

In my own Southern California environs, two area residents had been indicted for allegedly cracking the computer of one suspects former employer and deleting a $2.6 million proj- ect. One has to wonder if this is like a drug bust, where reports describe the street value of confiscated wares—rather than the actual cost of the raw goods to the would-be sellers, only a tiny fraction of that amount. What was the actual damage?

In this case, the files were described as being recovered at a cost of $5,000—which raises several additional questions.

First, why would it ever cost $5,000 to locate and restore current backups—presumably stored offline—of critical files? Or werent there any such backups, in which case, whos being fired for putting the company at such outrageous risk?

Second, if the destruction had been complete, what would the insurance company have paid? Would they have walked in, found no damage to the hardware and left without writing a check?

For that matter, what insurance coverage do you have against such acts? Are you protected against user errors that destroy data without deliberate abuse? Against hardware or software failure that destroys or delays work, perhaps triggering contract penalty clauses? Against acts of sabotage that you fail to mitigate by taking reasonable precautions—where the state of the art of "reasonable" is a rapidly moving target?

What coverage do you actually have? Are you sure? Or do you, too, have anti-IT bombs just waiting to explode?

Tell me whats blown up lately at peter_coffee@ziffdavis.com.