The Spooky “Web”
The World Wide Web is a scary place, folks. As if you didn’t know already, amiright?
The advent and growth of the internet gave us the best of things (online shopping, cat videos, etc.) but, with that, came the worst of things:
“Trolls” – People who hide behind the shield of anonymity to say mean things to others they don’t know.
“Influencers” – At least the ones that have become entitled pseudo-celebrities in the habit of attempting to trade (air quotes) exposure (air quotes) in exchange for free stuff from businesses.
…and perhaps worst of all, hackers and scammers*.
As my parents age, I become more terrified that one day I’ll find out they’ve sent their life savings to a prince in Nigeria. My dad has lost many a laptop to viral contamination because he tends to click on anything that tells him to do so. The saving grace is he’s not a business owner and that’s not a business laptop he’s putting at risk everyday he’s searching for the perfect putter.
The Cyber world is indeed a scary one. And for those who don’t quite understand it all (which is most of us), just take a peek at your Spam/Junk email folder. Believe it or not, there are people out there who work day in and day out to scam money or data they can sell for money. Think of how hard you work at YOUR job. These are people who have a similar “work ethic”…except…well, they’re doing crime.
We’re not IT experts but there are a few simple things you can do to help prevent you and your employees from becoming victims of what the insurance world is calling “Social Engineering” (somehow tricking you into voluntarily parting with your assets) and phishing attempts (data mining):
Tip #1 – Pick up the phone! Always be sure to verify requested transactions or new banking information by speaking with the person directly. Your CEO sends you new bank information and wants you to transfer money? Pick up the phone and talk to her/him. (It goes without saying if you’re not familiar with the originating email writer, speak to someone you do know.)
Tip #2 – Don’t click on ANYTHING. Did someone send you a link purporting to be a file that was too big to email directly? If you weren’t expecting this transmission, refer to Tip #1. (Hint: Pick up the phone.)
Tip #3 – Don’t forget that your mobile devices, like that snazzy three-eyed smartphone you just picked up also contains sensitive information or access to it (like work email). Our recommendation is that you require more than just a 4-digit PIN on a phone being used for work.
Tip #4 – (Here comes the sell!) Consider buying Cyber Liability insurance. The term “Liability” is really a misnomer as the policy includes very rich first party coverages such as Forensics, Business Interruption, Extortion and the aforementioned Social Engineering. Granted nothing beats being proactive about not getting hacked/scammed, but you’ll be glad to have Cyber coverage in your pocket if you are breached. And nowadays, it’s more a matter of “when” and not “if”, statistically speaking. You think you don't have exposure but you do. Everyone does. Call me and I'll talk your ear off on how.
We used to say that all it takes to remain breach free is common sense. But with more things being accessible “online” (please Google “Internet of Things”), it now almost takes a Spidey-sense! The above, of course, is just the basics. If you think you have system vulnerabilities or haven’t updated your antivirus since you downloaded the free version three years ago, we recommend you check in with an IT professional to plug those holes.
We’re a phone call away if you have any questions about cyber risks, want to gripe about your junk mail or are merely curious to know how else to protect your assets from those lurkers on the internet.
*Not saying hackers and scammers are a new thing, if the 1995 movie Hackers starring Angelina Jolie is anything to go by. But with more things being done and accessed online, it’s created a burgeoning job market, so to speak, for these people.
Tammy is a founding member of The Brokerage and even with almost 20 years of experience in commercial insurance, she is constantly amazed by the amount of learning left to do, not just in insurance but everything else in life.
About the Authors
We're insurance professionals sharing knowledge we've picked up in our day-to-day work lives.