Cyber Threats

cyber security


Data threats come in many sizes and shapes and no one is immune.  Just this month, it was announced that Orbitz, a subsidiary of online travel agency Expedia had been hacked and that personal information from about 880,000 payment cards was stolen.

We can’t cut ourselves off entirely from the Internet nor can we just assume there’s nothing we can do to protect our digital privacy and security for ourselves, our families, and our businesses.   The fact is, we can take steps to minimize the threats and still enjoy the freedom and convenience the digital world can provide.

The first step is to understand the threats in all their forms.  In this blog, we want to give individuals and families some easy-to-follow tips to mitigate these threats, which include phishing, described below, pharming(a malicious code that directs the user to a fake website), baiting(e.g., a free download in exchange for personal information) and pretexting involving s a scenario that persuades someone to give their personal information.

Are You Password Protected?

It’s a pain, but stop using simple passwords or using the same password for multiple accounts. Never use a word that’s related to you. Select random words or letters (a combination of lowercase and uppercase) and intersperse it with numbers and symbols.  Never share your passwords – with anyone.

Know What You’re Opening

When you receive an email from someone or some company you don’t know, pay attention before opening it. Malicious emails are called phishing scams that ask you to open up links and files that can infect and corrupt your computer systems.  Also, be suspicious if the email does not address you by name.  Beware of any links embedded in the email or features a long and complicated URL – it may be a phishing email.  Avoid the hyperbolic  “urgent and requires immediate attention.”   Above all, do not download ZIP files and attachments or click through to links unless they are from a trusted party and you have checked it out first.

 Stay Up-To-Date

It may seem obvious but keep all your operating systems up to date.   Install the updates from the platforms you use such as Microsoft, Mac and Linux.  They improve functionality but also will provide the latest security fixes.

You’re Covered

Many homeowners’ insurance policies can include identity-theft coverage, which typically includes access to credit monitoring and a case manager in case of an incident. Insurers add and refine new coverages and we’re happy to discuss your options.

Computer Security


Protecting Online Assets with Cyber SecurityAll of us are painfully aware of the online data breaches that occur with alarming frequency. No need to list them here – it would take this entire blog and then some. Most of these breaches that make headlines happen to large retail chains and government agencies – anywhere there are millions of people’s data stored in one place. That does not mean, however, that there is nothing individuals can do to keep themselves as protected as possible.

For your family, some of our homeowners’ insurance policies include identity-theft coverage, which may include credit monitoring and assistance if your identity is stolen. Prevention, of course, is the best protection so it is crucial that one practice sound “computer hygiene,” by keeping anti-virus software up-to-date, creating unique passwords and changing them periodically and never opening suspicious emails.

For businesses, sound computer hygiene is more complicated. Here’s why.
While it is true hackers go after the “big fish,” they also look for softer targets – smaller businesses with weaker defenses. The most vulnerable businesses are those that accept credit cards, store customer information, and conduct business online or in the cloud.

Cyber Insurance for Safety & Security

For these businesses, it is wise to look into adding cyber and privacy insurance protection to cover liability for a data breach in which the firm’s customers’ personal information is exposed or stolen. These policies cover a variety of expenses, including notification costs, credit monitoring, costs to defend claims by state regulators, fines and penalties, and loss resulting from identity theft. The policies can also cover liability from website media content and other risks from business interruption, data loss/destruction, computer fraud, funds transfer loss and cyber extortion.

One final note: Not all computer hygiene is high-tech. In a small business, every employee wears several hats so it’s important to have strict rules about handling customer data. What would happen if an employee discarded sensitive information into the dumpster by accident or an employee lost their laptop with all their information? A shredder could be a wise investment.