What are the risks to IT Professionals?

What are the risks to IT Professionals?

Their biggest risk is without doubt, negligence due to an act, error or omission and in the information technology world claims do occur. Many smaller IT professionals may never see any claim, but when a claim occurs it can be significant. .

IT professionals hold themselves out as experts in a particular area and as a result can be held liable should they commit an error or omission in rendering their professional services. In addition, they have liability exposures arising from how they provide their services, such as allowing a third party unauthorized access to a client's systems.

In many cases the consequences of an error or omission greatly exceed the value of the work completed. And litigating an IT professional claim can be extremely expensive due to the highly technical nature of most of the subject matter.

The typical IT professional claim involves financial loss by a client due to an error or omission by the consultant. An example is the failure of an EDP consultant to recommend an appropriate system for a client, resulting in a financial loss to the client.

A claim or lawsuit may not always involve a clear error or omission. A client may not be satisfied with the result of the professional's work product and may bring a claim to obtain a different result or avoid paying a fee. These types of claims are often just as difficult and expensive to defend as a clear-cut error, particularly where the subject matter is so complex. Insurance typically pays for the cost of defending this type of claim as if it were a clear-cut error on the part of the insured consultant.

While Internet-related professional exposures arise from services provided to clients by IT professionals such as web site development, they can also arise from damage a professional can cause to a client's systems resources. This latter exposure includes virus transmission, allowance of unauthorized access and loss of data. In addition, professional exposures can extend beyond traditional economic loss to contingent bodily injury or property damage for some professionals.

Some IT professionals also have media exposures that arise from intellectual property, defamation and invasion of privacy claims. The intellectual property exposures, such as copyright or trademark infringement, are an unpredictable and rapidly evolving area because the law as it applies to the Internet is not clearly defined.

For example, no clear definition has been established for standards of copyright infringement. Does a link from another site to your content infringe on your copyrights? Such a claim might arise if a website developer puts a website together for a client that includes a link to another site. If the owner of the other site brings a claim against the linking site owner for copyright infringement the IT professional will probably be brought in. 

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