Common Cyber Security Threats Facing Your Agency

Cyber SecurityAdvances in technology continue to make our lives more efficient. Yet the more connected we become, the more vulnerable we are to online threats – both personally and professionally.  Your independent insurance agency is no exception. When you know what you are up against, however, it becomes far easier to go on the offensive.

Here are some of the latest cyber threats facing individuals and businesses, so you can learn and prepare your agency for online defense.

  1. Spearphishing

Much like phishing, this method of attack uses email to gain information. The sender uses key info such as your name or the name of someone you know to seem like an acquaintance. Usually the perpetrator gets facts from social networking sites, like posts about your recent purchases. A ruse then asks for a password, such as requesting to view a protected photo, and uses that password (or variations of it) to gain access to the recent retail site you visited.

  1. Ransomware

This is a new type of malware that holds your computer hostage. Hackers gain access to your device through downloads and file transfers from a suspicious source, such as a fraud email or phony website. Many pose as local law enforcement and post warning stating you have viewed “illicit materials” and need to pay a fine. Your device stays locked till you pay up. Many are fooled by this tactic due to the attacker’s ability to pinpoint geographic location and use local authority emblems in postings.

  1. Typosquatting

One of the easiest cyber-attack traps to fall in to, this tactic relies on users mistyping a common website name (i.e. “Googel” for “Google” or “Zapppos” for “Zappos”). The fraud sites the users land on may appear strikingly similar to the intended page, making it difficult to identify a threat. Once on the page, visitors are at risk of malware downloads due to the site’s seeming legitimacy.

 

It’s important for your agency to alert employees and clients about these new threats to keep their data safe from attack. One of the best pieces of advice is to store data in the cloud, which is why we at SIS store all our data in secure, off site servers with redundant backup. Find out more about SIS’s cloud security and other Partner XE benefits by contacting us at sales@sisware.com.

New Disaster Prep eGuide Released

Disaster eGuide

Disaster can strike your agency in many forms: extreme weather, fire, and break-ins can interrupt your agency operations and cause serious damage. When such emergencies strike, it’s important for your agency to be ready to act. Not only do you need to care for the physical needs of your property and staff, but you must also set up procedures to keep your agency operational during a crisis.

Our latest eGuide, Natural Disaster Preperation and Keeping Your Agency Running: 5 Steps Every Agency Should Take highlights ways to prepare your agency to weather the storm. The guide addresses identifying threats to your agency, protecting your employees, securing your agency’s data, and creating a contingency plan for business continuity.

You can download the eGuide on our website, sispartnerplatform.com, and check out how SIS can provide your agency with the support you need during a crisis. To find out more about SIS and our personalized customer service, contact us at sales@sisware.com.

Making Your Site Secure and Searchable

Secure WebsitesA lot goes into making your independent insurance agency’s website attractive, user friendly, and up to date. However, if users can’t find your site, or don’t feel secure while they’re there, it’s all for naught. As an agency owner, you need to think about making your website searchable and secure so it can be the sales and service tool you need.

SEARCHABLE sites use…

  • Modern designs and tools, such as responsiveness, show search engines you’re serious about staying up to date
  • Regularly updated, succinct content makes it easy for a web crawler to evaluate your site
  • Relevant keywords, including in page titles and image descriptions in your site’s metadata (local keywords are especially relevant for independent agencies)
  • Links to other relevant sites, including agency partners, and link backs from those sites

SECURE sites focus on…

  • Complying with E & O and HIPPA regulations regarding receiving and sending client data over the internet
  • Using updated firewalls and security certificates/patches
  • Encrypting all form submissions using complex validation keys
  • Watching and testing sites on a regular basis using tools such as WordPress Acunetix or Drupal

Your site’s searchability and security are both linked to your agency management system, and we at SIS take this seriously. Our Partner XE focuses on keeping your client’s data secure, and grants you access to demographics to help focus marketing. Plus, we have a dedicated client services team to help you discover all the ways Partner XE can help you grow your agency

To find out more about Partner XE’s capabilities, contact us at 800.747.7005 or sales@sisware.com.

Cyber Security and Data Protection eGuide

Cyber Security eGuideThe digital age is here and with it comes many cyber threats: identify theft, computer viruses, and data corruption to name a few. As an independent insurance agency, you are given access to customers’ personal data that is subject to these threats. It is your responsibility to protect your clients’ data and prevent cyber-attack.

Our latest eGuide, Cyber Security and Data Protection, looks at the meaning of cyber security, major cyber threats, and steps you can take to keep your agency and your customers safe.

Download this free eGuide here! And check out our other eGuides, addressing agency communications, E & O management, and succession planning among other topics. We have a new guide each month, so continue checking back for more great resources and tips.

Crafting Your Agency’s Contingency Plan

Any disaster your agency faces is marked by one dangerous element: unpredictability. Dealing with disaster is that much harder because no one knows where or when a crisis will strike.  Agencies with a contingency plan in place, however, will be better prepared to face the storm than those who don’t.

An agency contingency plan is a disaster prep and management document – think of it as a roadmap to weathering the storm. In this plan, you should include general emergency procedures and procedures specific to the different crises your agency could encounter. The contingency plan’s main purpose is to keep your employees, infrastructure and information, and agency operations safe.

Keep your employees safe by including:

  • A point person or team of people to manage the plan’s execution.
  • An evacuation plan for employees, including how and when employees should evacuate.
  • Procedures specific to disasters within the building (i.e. active shooter) vs outside the building (i.e. flood).

Keep your infrastructure and information safe by:

  • Detailing how to retrieve your agency’s data from back-up devices during an emergency.
  • Putting a team in charge of checking data, looking for missing or damaged information, and heading up recovery efforts.
  • Setting up alternative communication means, such as virtual meetings and teleconferencing, so employees know how to get updates and remain connected.

Keep your agency operations safe with:

  • A definitive chain of command, including appointing all decision makers a “back-up” in case they are unable to perform their duties.
  • Set assignments for each employee and/or department so everyone is sure of their specific task and can get started immediately when crisis hits.
  • Detailed procedures for informing customers and keeping them updated as business returns to normal.

Many businesses tend to put contingency planning on the back burner, but this is a mistake your agency cannot afford. When putting together your plan, be sure to have individuals from each department review the document. Once you have a solid plan, go over it with your employees, hitting the high points so there is no surprise when the plan needs to be put into action. Ensure your staff has access to the plan in both electronic and hard copy form so it can be referenced with or without electricity.

Most importantly, reassess your plan frequently, at least annually. It is important to ensure items such as employee contact information and agency procedures stay up-to-date.

We at SIS know the importance of staying current for the sake of emergency preparedness, which is why we frequently update our Partner XE agency management system with the latest technology, including redundant back-ups of data. Find out more about the latest Partner XE enhancements and features, check out our website or contact us at sales@sisware.com.

Setting Up for Success – Business Continuity During a Disaster

sis_blog_imgDisaster can strike your agency in many forms: fires, severe weather, cyber-attacks, and intruders can interrupt your agency and cause serious damage. In any of these events, it is important for you and your agency to be prepared to handle each situation and to get back to business as soon as possible.

Your agency’s business continuity prep should focus on two elements: your people and your infrastructure.

Prepping Your People

  • Create a disaster kit that includes items such as flashlights, batteries, matches, extra cash, and first aid items. Keep your kit stocked, checking on it multiple times throughout the year to ensure there are enough supplies for your staff.
  • Make a plan for alerting employees and customers. Utilize phone, email and other online modes (i.e. social media and websites) to keep people up-to-date and informed.
  • Find alternate work spaces, including giving employees the option to work from home. Look into disaster prep agencies that provide fully-equipped, ready to rent spaces in the event that your office will be compromised for a longer period of time.
  • Establish a chain of command so employees know who to report to if certain individuals cannot perform their regular duties. Designate specific people as disaster marshals to aid in the flow of communication

Prepping Your Infrastructure

  • Purchase generators and invest in reliable data storage to ensure your data is protected. Get cyber security coverage to protect against unforeseen data loss or damage.
  • Set up a communication procedures that cover how to process and field calls. Take into account rerouting your agency number should your phone lines go down.
  • Utilize cloud-based applications to ensure little to no interruption in the flow of your agency. With cloud applications in place you will be able to host meetings, share files, and take phone calls no matter where your staff is scattered during disaster recovery.
  • Ready all your employees with easy claims processing through checklists and templates. Know that if your agency is experiencing disaster it is likely many of your customers are as well.

The goal in your preparation is to ensure your agency keeps running as normal as possible, while everyone involved stays safe. These and other elements are important pieces of your agency’s Disaster Contingency plan, which we will address in our next post.

In the interest of staying disaster ready, SIS uses cloud-based software for you Partner XE agency management system, making it easier for our clients to recover and access their data during a disaster. To find out more about Partner XE, and our personalized customer service, contact us at sales@sisware.com.