Everyone knows that with life comes risks. And while as an insurance agent it’s your job to reduce health risks by providing consumers with coverage policies, you may face many risks yourself. We’re not talking about personal injury though, we’re talking about cybersecurity! As an agent, you probably deal with huge amounts of data on a daily basis. So, it would be naive to not protect yourself against cyber threats. Each year, the number of these types of attacks continues to grow. And one thing is for sure, you don’t want to add to that number.
Not only do these attacks cost immense amounts of money and time, but they can also ruin your reputation. With that said, this article will discuss the effectiveness of cybersecurity, some of the most common threats, and best practices to avoid these risks. So you and your company will be safe for years to come.
Why is Cybersecurity Important?
Cyber attacks on individuals and businesses are growing as the years continue. In fact, according to AAG, an English company offering computer and cybersecurity services, in 2022 “data breaches cost businesses an average of $4.35 million.” What’s even more scary is that “43% of cyber attacks are aimed at small businesses. But only 14% are prepared to defend themselves,” according to a study completed by Accenture. Though shocking to some, these figures drive home the point that cybercriminals are always evolving their tactics in order to exploit individuals and businesses to try to make a quick buck. If these issues are not addressed ahead of time you could face financial damage, reputational damage, or both. Though there are several specific reasons as to why cybersecurity is important for a company. For the insurance sector, we’ve narrowed it down to three main reasons:
Regulations and compliance
In the insurance industry, there are a variety of regulations that you must adhere to. Common examples of these regulations include the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). By having the proper cybersecurity technology and measures in place, you will be able to rest easy knowing that you are complying with the various privacy and protection laws.
Protection of Client Data
The client-agent relationship revolves around trust and understanding. For this reason protecting their sensitive information and data is extremely important in order to maintain a successful business and to keep clients around for years to come. Information such as financial records, policy information and other personal details are all records that can cause great harm to you and your clients if they fall into the wrong hands.
Upholding Your Reputation
The insurance industry is very competitive. With that said, a breach in your security or an incident involving data could cause you or your company’s reputation to plummet. And will ultimately cost you clients. Since your clients will always expect you to keep their information confidential and securing it is utterly important. Be proactive in your approach to cybersecurity. Even if there is just one security issue over the span of multiple years, clients will likely associate you with that problem going forward.
What Are the Most Common Cyber Threats?
Now that you’re able to understand why cybersecurity is so important when it comes to your insurance agency, it’s vital that you learn what the most common occurring cyber threats are. This will help you be up to date about the most modern attacks, and will help you later on when it’s time to implement security solutions to mitigate the attacks.
Phishing, much like the word it’s based on — fishing, is a type of cyberattack where someone is trying to get you to fall for or hook on to the bait. In other words, the attacker is trying to lure in the victim by tricking them in some way. The most common example of this would be receiving a message or email from someone asking you to click on a link or download an attachment that exposes your computer to some sort of virus or gets you to send them information that they can exploit. These attempts are made to look like legitimate interactions, causing people who aren’t careful to fall into the trap. Some specific phishing examples include:
- Email Phishing – people will often pretend to be a trusted body like a bank or government agency requesting sensitive information from you. Another common attack is for the attacker to impersonate the CEO of your company. In these cases, when receiving an email that seems suspicious, it always pays off to verify with the actual body or co-worker that they sent the message.
- SMS Phishing- This tactic mimics the same pattern as email phishing but occurs over text message or social media.
- Calendar Phishing- Calendar phishing simply refers to calendar invites on digital calendar apps like Google, in which the invite is unsolicited or unknown.
The word malware stands for malicious software and is most simply explained as a type of computer software that is built to harm your device or steal your data. When you hear people talking about a computer virus, malware is the most common type. In the phishing example about clicking an unknown link, this phishing attempt could be used to install malware onto your computer.
This is a type of malware that blocks users from being able to access their devices and data. In turn attackers will generally ask for an amount of money that must be paid in order for you to gain access again. These types of attacks are becoming increasingly common and are quite costly for businesses.
How Can I Protect Myself and My Information?
Staying ahead of the curve when it comes to cybersecurity can be the difference between no issues, and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of issues. To protect your company’s and client’s data there are some best practices to keep in mind:
Educate and Inform
One simple way to protect against cyber threats is to make sure that you and your employees receive training on the best cybersecurity practices. This could include courses or seminars explaining how to recognize phishing attempts or tips for creating strong passwords. You could also implement company-wide alerts when it’s time for software updates. Additionally, you should stay up to date with all the latest cybersecurity trends and threats. To do this you can try to regularly read industry-related news, reach out to cybersecurity professionals, or attend informative conferences or webinars.
Secure Your Network
It will pay off in the long run to use infrastructure such as firewalls, secure wi-fi networks, VPN’s and intrusion detection systems to make sure there is no unauthorized access. As touched on above, it will greatly benefit you to update your software and hardware regularly as this can ensure that the most recent security patches are in place.
Use Strong Passwords
When it comes to passwords used at your job it’s important to use strong passwords. And to update or change your passwords from time to time. Some tips for creating a strong password include:
- Use a unique password for each account.
- Use phrases that you can remember instead of short strings of random letters and numbers.
- If you need to record your password. Make sure that it is done in a secure place that only you can access.
Multi-factor authentication means using multiple devices when logging into an account. For example, you may initially log into an account online, but the account will remain locked until you receive a one-time code of some sort on your messaging app. This will help to ensure that no one is using your accounts who shouldn’t have access to them.
Whether data is in storage or is being sent to someone else, encrypting it provides additional protection against unauthorized users. There are various encryption softwares available, so do some research and find the right one for you. Once you find the right software be sure to encrypt client information that is stored on servers, databases and mobile devices.
Backup Your Data
Make sure that your important data is backed up to protect yourself against loss or theft. Backups should be stored in a secure place, and should be encrypted. One commonly used method is to keep 3 copies of any important file — on primary file and two backups.
Consider Cyber Liability Insurance
If your company doesn’t already have some sort of cyber insurance, we strongly recommend the investment. This type of insurance can cover the costs of cyber scams and attacks or greatly reduce the cost that you end up paying. Most cyber insurance will protect your data, as well as your clients data, so everyone wins.
Regularly Assess Systems and Software
It’s important to regularly test your systems, networks and software. To ensure that they are up to date and working properly. This will help you notice any forgotten updates or any information that is slipping through the cracks.
Create an Emergency Response Plan
Though you hopefully won’t ever have to put it to use, you should develop a plan outlining how you and your company will respond to a security threat. The plan could include details such as communication protocols, steps to secure the data as fast as possible and any legal requirements.
You work hard to build relationships with your clients and to make sales. The last thing you want is for these relationships to fail or for you to lose money due to cybersecurity attacks. By staying up-to-date about the importance of security, the most common cyber threats, and the best preventative practices, the likelihood of an incident occurring will be greatly reduced. Though it may seem like a lot of work. It will pay off in the future to be as thorough as possible when assessing risks and securing data. By following the steps outlined, you and your company will be in a great position to help clients, and make profit. Without having to worry about outside attackers.
At Benepath we provide agents with insurance leads that are always exclusive and produced in real-time. We offer data leads and inbound phone calls for individual health, group health, Medicare, life, and commercial insurance. All of which can help take your business to the next level! So, if you are interested in learning about our generation process or purchasing leads from us. Simply go to our homepage and fill out a form or give us a call at 888-684-3121.