Are You and Your Customers Vulnerable to Ransomware?

You’ve probably been hearing the term “ransomware” a lot lately; reports of this type of cyberattack have doubled in the past year alone. Any business, or even individual, can be targeted by this form of malware, with which a cyberattacker encrypts a victim’s files and then demands a fee, or ransom, to restore access to the data. Because these attacks are so widespread, one could happen to you or your clients, so it is important to learn what you can do to protect yourself from one; if you are not properly protected, you or your customer might have to pay the ransom, which is far less expensive than replacing or restoring the locked files and computer. One thing you can do is purchase cyber insurance, which will cover ransomware, and encourage your customers to do the same, but is having one of these policies good enough, or could it cause more harm than good?

How Ransomware Works

Ransomware is different from other types of malware in that, during these attacks, a cyber criminal gains administrative access to your information and takes your data hostage. The most common way these criminals get access to your data is by sending out phishing scams through emails and texts; usually, the emails will look like they are from your bank or another trusted company you work with, and will contain an attachment or link that, if clicked on, will give them full access to your files.

computer screen with a padlock on the screen

Once the cyberattacker has full administrative access to all of your information, they will encrypt your files and essentially put a lock on your computer, demanding that you pay them a ransom to be able to gain access to your data again. Some will even take it a step further and threaten to publicize the data if the ransom is not paid; this can put your business in jeopardy because, as an agent in possession of sensitive customer information, it is your duty under HIPAA to protect that information.

Cyber Insurance & Ransomware

If you’re worried about ransomware attacks, remember that almost all cyber insurance policies cover ransomware, including the cost to restore and recover your data. However, you should also know that not everyone agrees that giving in to the attackers is the best solution, and lately, insurance companies have been getting scrutinized for paying ransoms. Regulators feel that by paying these ransoms, it further incentivizes cyber attackers: because of this, some insurance companies are dropping cyber insurance from their list of policies, while others are taking the ransom payment coverage out of their policies. This will require people to either pay the ransom on their own, which is typically anywhere form $700- $1,300, or have to pay for the restoration of their computer systems. The insurance companies and regulators hope that this will slow down ransomware attacks in the long run, but it doesn’t help individuals and businesses who are attacked in the short term.

With that being said, this has not stopped many insurance companies from providing cyber insurance, including ransomware coverage. What’s more, after recent high-profile attacks such as the one on the Colonial Pipeline, there is now a greater push for ransomware legislation to support private and public sectors and to punish the criminals. Hopefully the focus will be taken off the insurance industry and put back where it belongs: on stopping the attackers.

As of now, if you are looking to protect your business and your clients’ businesses, there are still affordable cyber insurance plans, but there are some precautionary steps you and your customers can take as well.

How To Prevent Ransomware

black USB
To prevent ransomware, back up your files and keep your system up-to-date.

A cyber insurance policy will help you restore your encrypted data if you are attacked, but there are other steps you can take to help prevent attacks on your computer and files:

  • Keep your system up-to-date.
  • Do NOT install software unless you are completely sure it is from a trusted source, and do NOT give administrative access to anyone else unless absolutely necessary (and safe).
  • Install antivirus and whitelisting software to prevent unauthorized applications.
  • Backup your files as often as possible.

Ransomware can destroy your business and cost you – or your customers – thousands of dollars. Cyber insurance is a great way to protect you and your customers’ businesses, but this type of coverage is becoming controversial, meaning that some insurance companies are no longer offering it. So, not only should you make sure you follow the steps above to prevent ransomware, and share the information with your clients, you should also compare cyber insurance plans from different companies to make sure they still cover ransomware.

Scam Alert! Professional Liability Clients Targeted By Fraudulent Wire Transfers

62%. That is the number of businesses that experienced phishing and social engineering attacks in 2018. About 71% of those breaches were financially motivated. Cybercrime is the most threatening crime that a business faces, and it has grown exponentially over the years. Businesses are not protecting their data, which makes them a target for cybercrime, and scams like the fraudulent wire transfers.

envelope on a laptop screen with a hand coming out of it grabbing money and card.
Wire frauds is an epidemic and can destroy a business. Notify businesses of these scams and how to be protected with cyber security.

As an agent, the more you are informed of these kinds of scams, the better you can inform your clients and protect them. Cyber security can help cover this kind of scam a business faces. First let’s talk about what these fraudulent wire transfers are, and then how you can protect your client’s business.

Business Wire Frauds

Wire fraud is a growing threat to businesses in the United States, mainly because of the increased online financial activity and mobile banking. It has gotten so bad, that the FBI issued a warning about a wide-ranging email scam in which people were emailing businesses in order to conduct a wire transfer.

These criminals will get personal credentials and passwords by installing malware, sending out phishing emails that pose as a legitimate business in order to get personal and financial information, or hacking into email accounts.

For example, a lot of people recently have received emails posing to be their bank stating that someone tried to hack into their account. There will be a link there for the person to sign into their account and check it. These are usually scammers. If a bank suspects fraudulent activity, they will call you. Once a person gets those kinds of emails, they should call their bank immediately.

Protection With Cyber Security

Notify clients of the ongoing scams and threats to their business and how they can protect their business. One sure way to prevent fraudulent wire frauds is by having cyber security insurance with wire fraud coverage added. Once a business has had a wire transfer fraud or cybercrime claim, it is hard to find coverage afterwards. The business is branded as high risk then.

laptop with a lock on the screen over a map of different continents.
Protect your clients from fraudulent wire frauds by providing cyber security insurance with wire fraud coverage added.

For this reason, it is better for a business to be protected before the crime occurs. This is something every agent should point out to their customers. As an agent, your main goal is to make the customer happy. In order to do this, you must provide protection and a sense of security to clients, within an affordable price. Your customers will appreciate your knowledge of scams and your compassion to protect their business.

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