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Dec 7, 2016

Cyber security: Is your data secure?

Cyber-attacks are on the rise, for both companies and individuals. And they can be damaging to your business, considering the massive amount of sensitive client employee information that are vulnerable to a data breach.

That’s why, when it comes to personal online accounts, password security is crucial to your protection.

Cyber-attacks continue to grow, with cyber thieves in pursuit of personally identifiable data that can be sold on the black market. And according to Symantec’s 2015 Internet Security Threat report, the past year saw a 23 percent increase in the number of data breaches.1

Consider a case in which an employee at a financial services company lost his personal cell phone, which he had used to access an unsecured database of clients. Because this database was not secured, the information of thousands of the company’s clients was accessed—including their social security numbers, credit card numbers and other confidential information. The result was not only an expensive forensic investigation but also the loss of many company clients.

Cybercrimes are on the rise, but your level of protection can be, too.

This case was hardly unique: Cybercrime will cost the global economy $445 billion in 2016—more than the market cap of ExxonMobil ($360 billion), Facebook ($368 billion) and Amazon ($397 billion), according to an estimate from the World Economic Forum’s 2016 Global Risks Report.2

So, in terms of measures companies can take to secure their technology, the first priority should be a cyber policy. Cyber insurance can be essential in helping your company recover after a data breach, whose costs can include business disruption, revenue loss, equipment damages, legal fees, public relations expenses, forensic analysis and costs associated with legally mandates notification.3 Cyber insurance even plays a role in protecting a company long before a breach occurs.

Such insurance covers lost data and devices, plus notification requirements and forensics. Many state statutes have determined the minimum penalties to be imposed if client information is breached. And the penalties are substantial.

You might also be a victim of cyber extortion, which can be included in your coverage. Many insurance companies offer this coverage, which, depending on a client’s needs, begins in increments of $5,000 on a homeowners policy and ranges up to well over $100 million on a commercial insurance one.

Then, there are passwords: When you start an online account or enter a company database, you typically create a password with your username. In some circumstances, you can enter a password without review; in others, it must include special characters; certain technology even indicates the level of password strength.

To most, this process seems time-consuming: You think, “Wouldn’t it be easier to remember my password without new words or symbols?” Yes, it might be easier, but would it be smarter? Absolutely not.

Weak passwords include easily guessed birthdates, company addresses and family names. Instead, consider creating a unique acronym for a sentence or phrase you like, or include phonetic or alphanumeric replacements for wording within the phrase.4

Once you’ve created a strong password, never use it for multiple accounts. That’s right—not even one more! That might be tempting, but, using the same password for each account is like using the same key to unlock your office, home and car—each site is vulnerable if the wrong person gains access to one.5

For these reasons, consider investing in a cyber policy to prevent your business from these often-catastrophic crimes. And don’t forget those unique passwords for each account. Cybercrimes are on the rise, but your level of protection can be, too.

Heather Schirmer, marketing manager at H.D. Segur, Inc., coauthored this article.

1“Top 5 Cyber Risks for Businesses,” Travelers Insurance.
2 Aneri Pattani, “Cybersecurity has failed the market: CEO,” CNBC.com, October 10, 2016.
3 4 Ways Cyber Insurance Helps Protect Your Business,” Travelers Insurance.
4 “Password Security Tips,” Travelers Insurance.
5 ibid.

This article was originally published in the December 2016/January 2017 issue of Worth.

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