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How Can You Protect Client Data?

If your agency isn't concerned about cybersecurity, it should be: according to INC, half of all small businesses have experienced a cyber attack, and "More than 70 percent of attacks target small businesses." These cybersecurity breaches take a toll on companies, and about 60 percent of them go out of business within the six months after they have been hacked. Small businesses such as insurance agencies often operate without a lot of backup or planning for problems with cybersecurity. As a small insurance agency, how can you protect client data? 

First, Think About Your People 

People are the first line of defense against a cyber attack. While it might seem simple, changing your passwords and storing your data in the correct, secure locations are practices that can help your business stay secure. Think about the practices that you have in place for sending files, moving client information into your computer system, and storing information for the long term. Make sure that these practices are up to date and safeguard that information, then work on training your staff to ensure that they are following these best practices. Consider working with an IT security professional to review your business security practices.

Also, consider limited data access for employees. Employees should be able to see the data that they require, but you don't need to give all employees access to all data. If you limit access in a sensible way, there is less of a chance for that data to go walking.

Consider Where You Store Information 

Any way you decide to store information will have its vulnerabilities. You need to find the least vulnerable way to store information so that your client data can stay safe.

  • Know that simply leaving devices out can lead to data theft. How are your laptops and other devices locked down so that they cannot be stolen? Can you wipe devices remotely if employees leave them in a taxi on the way to work?

  • If you store a lot of information locally, is it encrypted in some way?  Are you using firewalls and antivirus software on your computer? According to Nevada Small Business, "You can purchase the best anti-hacker software available, but if you don’t update that software regularly, the bad guys may be able to find a back door with a new hacker program." 

  • If you're using software, can you update it regularly and patch it so that it becomes stronger, not weaker over time? 

  • Consider how you use and protect your email. Do you change passwords regularly, and do files get a virus scan?

  • Ask about security at your web host. You want to make sure that your website is not vulnerable due to a lack of security protocols at your host.

  • Consider the security records of any cloud-based data management you do. Information on the cloud is not necessarily secure.

Know the Signs of a Cyber Attack

While not all data breaches occur due to a cyber attack, a random stranger taking over your client information is a nightmare that you do not want to occur. Unfortunately, cyber attacks can be particularly insidious because you might not know that they are occurring until a lot of data has been stolen. To protect client data, you not only need to work on your structures and systems: you also need to be alert. Look for the following signs of a cyber attack: 

  • Slow internet. If there is a virus working in the background, this can slow down your speed.

  • You have unusual messages on your computer, such as new pop-ups.

  • Your computers crash. 

  • You get emails that look like they are from trusted senders but aren't. 

Unfortunately, in many instances, you won't know you've been hacked until your clients see extra charges on their credit card or discover that they are the victims of identity theft. Cyber-attackers don't always announce themselves, so you need to work on your systems first to protect yourself before your business falls victim to a cyber attack.

At American Agents Alliance, we want to ensure that your business can grow strong with the protections you need to do business every day. That's why we work with those who can provide you with products such as E&O insurance to protect your business. Contact us about our many membership benefits.

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