Digital, Accelerated: Protecting Your Agency Online

Industry Experts, Personal Lines, Small Commercial Lines, Technology

As more business information moves online and more people work remotely, cybercrimes are increasing—and small businesses are often a target.

Cyberattacks come in many different forms. For example, an employee may click on an email link containing malware that allows hackers to steal company information. Then, a company computer could be infected with ransomware that allows hackers to lock down systems and demand that the owner must pay to regain access.

Cybersecurity is a complex and ever-changing area of risk, both for businesses and individuals. However, it can also be a great opportunity for independent insurance agents to assess their own security measures and advise small business clients to do the same.

There are two main methods for managing cyber risks:

Employee training

The most pernicious security issue for most companies is people. It’s essential to train employees to be on the lookout for threats and to understand how to identify those that slip through the cracks.

For example, some companies train employees by randomly sending them emails that emulate the appearance of a typical malicious email. Anyone who mistakenly clicks on the embedded link is then warned that they would have compromised their security. Two such clicks will send the employee to an online security training course, as well as a note to their manager.

This kind of training program can be implemented quickly with a significant impact. It helps employees realize that they can’t simply rely on spam filters but must learn to recognize harmful emails.

Cybersecurity Software

Cybersecurity software options range widely in price and breadth of coverage. Some of the most basic security programs are free and simply ensure that computer networks are up to date on critical updates, there aren’t any computer misconfigurations, and all security patches are installed.

More intensive software can provide a wide array of security procedures and management analytics. The right fit will depend on the needs of the business.

As you ramp up your digital investments, make sure to protect your digital assets.

3 crucial tools for cybersecurity

  1. Virtual Private Network (VPN) – Connect employees to your business’s secure network for secure remote work.
  1. Security software – Block harmful websites, emails and computer viruses.
  1. Employee training – You can use tools such as Proofpoint to train employees to recognize suspicious emails and be aware of threats.

For more helpful tips, see the Federal Communications Commission’s cybersecurity checklist. 

A longer version of this article originally appeared in IA magazine. 

Samuel Affolter

Senior Director of Research and Innovation

Sam leads Agent Research & Innovation discovering and developing new solutions to meet the needs of our agents and their customers. He has analytics and product management experience across a variety of insurance functions including Product, Underwriting, and Marketing. Sam spent 3.5 years at Amazon drinking the customer-centric Koolaid and brings that and an agile-motivated scrappiness with him back. Over the past 2 years his team has piloted over a dozen solutions and scaled several including Safeco’s Pet Insurance and Home Warranty partnerships and being first-to-market with Safeco’s award winning Insurance Advisor skill for Amazon’s Alexa platform.

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