The rapid rise of technology in the past several decades has completely changed the way businesses operate. Everything is done electronically: data storage, bookkeeping, communication, even the signing of documents is all done with keyboard strokes and taps of screens.
This shift to digital business has, in many ways, allowed us to do our jobs more effectively, efficiently, and comprehensively. But the advancement in digital technology has not come without setbacks. Cyber security has become a concern for businesses of all sizes, not just large corporations. In fact, small corporations often do not have the proper protections and policies in place, which makes them even more susceptible to hackers and data breaches.
No matter how small your insurance agency may be, you likely have information stored online or within your network that cyber criminals want. Security breaches can lead to fraud, distribution of private information, and the loss of trust from your clients, employees, and the surrounding community. These are our tips for ensuring your agency’s private information is secure and protected:
Take cyber security seriously.
The first way to protect yourself from cyber attacks is to become aware of the risks. Even as a small insurance agency, you have tons of valuable information that is attractive to hackers. Not only is your business’s information at risk, your computers store the personal information of your clients; their contact information, financial status, home, health, and much more. Nearly half of all cyber attacks target small businesses, and 60% of those companies go out of business within six months of the attack. The risk is there, and it must be addressed.
Keep your security software up to date.
It may seem obvious, but you can prevent security breaches by simply updating your anti-virus and spyware protection regularly. It may seem like an inconvenience at the time, but keeping your software up to date will protect your computer system against major threats and save you from disaster later on.
Use formal security policies.
Educating your employees and implementing formal policies when it comes to cyber security is crucial. Require that every password created uses both uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, symbols, etc. and that they are changed every two to three months. Not allowing personal information to be shared by email and implementing 2-step authentication processes for financial transactions are also good ways to ensure everyone’s information is protected.
Invest in the right security tools.
If you’re unsure what kind of cyber security tools your business needs or if you’re using the right ones, enlist the help of a professional. Many of us aren’t overly tech-savvy, especially when it comes to firewalls or Trojan horses, so consult with IT specialists to figure out what exactly you need. These people will help you decide what kind of security to purchase, get your network set up, and be available for tech support in the future, should you need it.
Be prepared and have a plan.
Cyber attacks cannot be predicted, so it’s important to always be prepared to deal with one. Have a data backup system in place so you have an extra copy of all information in the event that it gets stolen. Make a step-by-step post-breach plan for yourself and your employees that includes contacting the correct authorities, communicating with clients, storing new data, etc. Make sure employees are aware and trained on this plan before it needs to be used.
Regardless of the size or status of any business, it’s at risk for a cyber attack. Use these tips to protect you and your clients’ information from online criminals and keep your insurance agency running smoothly and successfully!