DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Security experts say this has been a year of unprecedented cyberattacks on businesses and other institutions which is making it more difficult for firms to get insurance against those incidents.

Six days ago, North Carolina Central University was hit by a cyberattack.

“It’s kind of like crunch time,” said student Amalia Harris. “We need to get everything together before the semester ends.” 

Security experts say educational institutions like NCCU are prime targets because of all the personal data stored in their systems, but they aren’t the only ones. 

Major breaches like Colonial Pipeline make the news, but many others go unreported. 

Smaller businesses are hit frequently too, mostly through social engineering. 

“The cyber scammers, they know the human element is the weak part of the cybersecurity chain,” said Dustin Carlson of SRA 831(b) Admin, also known as Strategic Risk Alternative. “They will send an email, it might appear that it comes from the CEO.” 

Knowing how a cyberattack can disrupt business, many firms buy ransomware insurance, but insurance companies are now making premiums more expensive and making it tougher to collect on a policy.

“They’re putting sub-limits within the policies for certain things,” said Carlson. “A prime example of an exclusion is if your employee doesn’t follow standard protocol to, you know if they are phished to verify that the email recipient is a genuine person.” 

The Government Accountability Office it’s becoming more challenging to make that kind of coverage available

CBS 17 investigators asked Carlson what steps people can take to protect themselves from the rising threat of cyberattacks.

“Educate yourself,” he said. “Stay up to speed with the latest scams. Know what to look out for,” he said. “Prevention is key and then have a plan, a written procedure for what to do when you are breached.”

In the case of NCCU, officials still haven’t said how the attack occurred. 

A spokesperson said it’s slowly getting its systems back online and after six days online classes will now resume Saturday, November 18.