The War Exclusion and State-Sponsored Cyberattacks: The Battle Is Won but Is the War Over?
Sovereign nation states have been behind (or suspected of being behind) some of the worst cyberattacks. When a cyberattack has state involvement, the inevitable question is whether it constitutes an act of war. The answer can have a profound impact on insurance coverage because virtually every insurance policy has a war exclusion. In a case of first impression, a New Jersey trial court recently addressed whether a war exclusion applied to losses arising from the NotPetya cyberattack in 2017.
The United States and several other countries contended that Russia was responsible for launching the NotPetya attack to destabilize Ukraine. NotPetya quickly spread beyond its intended targets in Ukraine, causing collateral damage to millions of computers worldwide. Among the many impacted organizations was the pharmaceutical company, Merck & Co. Inc., which suffered damage to 40,000 of its computers, costing it more than $1.4 billion.
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