Another Day, Another Data Breach...
An article posted last month by businessinsider.com, reported at least 14 retailers were hacked and likely had information stolen from them since January 2017. Many of the data breaches were caused by flaws in payment systems taken advantage of by hackers. The list includes Sears, Kmart, Whole Foods, Sonic, Delta, Best Buy, Panera Bread and more. The article said, “Data breaches are on the rise in both retailers and other businesses...Data breaches are a real danger for both brands and customers, and can affect customer's trust in brands.”
Last month I received a Notice of Data Breach from Usinger’s. (They are famous for sausage). Now I can include them in the list of notices I have received from other companies informing me of a data breach. Watching the news it seems like there is another report of a data breach at least once a week.
You’re Risking Financial Devastation
As an independent insurance agency, you’re collecting a lot of personal and sensitive information from your prospects and clients. It’s critical that you protect your data and your clients’ trust or risk financial devastation if you allow hackers to steal the information as a result of a data breach. With the growing use of wireless connections, hackers can manipulate your network and gain access to your data in various ways.
Consider These Security Threats:
Consider These Security Steps:
In order to keep your valued clients' sensitive data safe, it’s essential to implement a security program at your independent insurance agency. Leaving any of these security measures unchecked puts your agency’s financial security at risk.
“Hurricane” is a Native American word meaning “Evil Spirit of the Wind”.
The Atlantic Ocean hurricane season officially started on June 1 and ends November 1 but most storms occur during peak hurricane season between August and October.
2017 Prediction: Above Average Activity
Hurricane season begins when the waters of the Atlantic become warmer. The NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) released its outlook on May 25th predicting a 45% chance of an above normal season. 35% chance of a normal season and only a 20% chance of a below normal season of activity. The NOAA’s above normal prediction means the east coast can expect to see 11-17 named storms.
Whether the predictions call for above normal or below normal activity, always be prepared and have a plan. People living on the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico coasts or Caribbean should have a disaster plan laid out. Benjamin Friedman, acting administrator of the NOAA, said “the most dangerous part is not the wind and the rain, it’s the flooding and the storm surge that occurs afterward. We need to be prepared for all of that”.
Think ahead and plan for:
Your Agency’s Data & Disaster Recover Plan
Most insurance agencies use data files throughout the workday. Data backup and recovery should be an integral part of the business plan and information technology disaster recovery plan. Your agency should conduct frequent data and security backups if you use on site files. Backups like cartridges, tapes and large capacity USB drives. Backups and the security of off-site storage should be in the agency’s business plan. Most vendors like agency management system software companies offer data backup services including storage in the “cloud”.
Have recovery strategies for:
Assuming your data is backed up offsite or in the “cloud”, the data can be accessed at an alternate site and your business can continue operating.
Your agency should develop a disaster recovery plan taking into account the recovery strategies listed above. The plan should ensure all your agency’s critical information is protected and backed up.
With the recent cyber security attack in Europe and some companies in the United States, data breaches are becoming more common and more costly. Businesses that have been exposed to data breaches face civil liability from customers, credit card issuers, business partners and stakeholders.
PC Magazine defines a data breach as, “An unauthorized dissemination of information. It may be due to an attack on the network or outright theft of paper documents, portable disks, USB drives or laptops. Sensitive information can also be found in trash cans when reports are carelessly discarded.”
As an insurance agent you gather personal data such as Social Security and driver’s license numbers, credit card or bank account information and more. Most agencies have moved away from paper records to electronic data systems and web based applications to store your agency’s data. The personal information and data must be protected from hackers and data breaches. But these days that isn’t always possible.
Most small business owners believe their company is safe from hackers, viruses or a data breach. That’s because most small business owners think they’re too insignificant to be attacked. The reality is most data thieves are looking for an easy target. Security software company Symantec did a study and found that 40% of attacks are against organizations with fewer than 500 employees. Computer hackers aren’t the only ones who can attack your agency. Your agency can be open to attacks by disgruntled or recently fired employees who have access to your data.
If you are reading this, you’re probably an insurance agent or you work at an insurance agency. If anyone should know why you carry insurance, you do. A business liability policy is unlikely to protect against most cyber exposures. Most commercial policies are written to insure against physical loss or injury. These policies don’t protect your agency from electronic damages associated with a data breach.
Like the recent ransomware data breach a cyber liability insurance policy covers cyber extortion. Cyber extortion is when hackers hijack your website, data, and/or networks and deny you access until you pay them to restore your systems. Cyber liability insurance covers expenses associated with data breaches like credit monitoring, costs to defend claims against state regulators and losses resulting from identify theft.
Does your agency have Cyber Liability Insurance? If not, contact your broker and discuss the level of coverage your agency needs based on your range of exposure.
Vikki Thomas has been working in the insurance industry since 1995. Vikki has worked for several carriers in customer service, quality assurance, underwriting, product management and marketing. Vikki has worked at AccuAgency since 2008.