Protecting Your Family and Business from Cyber Attacks

Preparing for an Unprecedented Open Enrollment Period
August 26, 2020

Cyber security threats increased exponentially in 2020, ranging from fraudulent COVID charities to email phishing to extortion scams. Protecting your personal and business risks is highly important so that you avoid financial disruptions.

According to FBI Assistant Director Tonya Ugoretz, the number of reports to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) increased 300% to 400% compared to the months prior to the start of the pandemic.  Reports normally averaged approximately 1,000 per month and grew to 3,000 to 4,000 per month.  Not all complaints are related directed to the pandemic, Ugoretz further explained at an Aspen Institute online conference, and businesses and individuals should be prepared in advance so that they do not fall prey.

The US National Counterintelligence and Security Center also recently warned consumers in a Tweet that “With supply chains in turmoil during COVID-19, many organizations are turning to alternate vendors and suppliers. Some vendors may be insecure or compromised by threat actors seeking to access your data. Adversaries increasingly use third-party suppliers as attack vectors.”

How can you protect yourself and your business in these changing times?

At Shafer Insurance Agency, we follow a developed protocol to ensure the safety of our business and the clients that we protect.  “Anytime a suspicious email is reported by any team member, we inform the full team so everyone is aware and vigilant,” said Andy Shafer, president.  “Our colleagues regularly participate in ongoing trainings so they’ll be able to quickly spot a risky approach.  We also implement a financial verification process, which requires verbal dual team member confirmation prior to bank transactions.” 

Additional steps you can take include:

  • Do not open e-mails or attachments from unknown individuals.
  • Monitor your bank account statements regularly and your credit report at least once a year for any unusual activity.
  • Use strong passwords and do not use the same password for multiple websites.
  • Never provide personal information of any sort via e-mail. Be aware that many e-mails requesting your personal or business information appear to be legitimate.
  • Ensure security settings for social media accounts are activated and set at the highest level of protection.
  • Verify the web address of legitimate websites and manually type the address into your browser.
  • Prior to doing business with a new vendor, investigate legitimacy through Better Business Bureau or other verifiable sources.
  • Be wary of online retailers who use a free email service (i.e. yahoo.com, gmail.com.) instead of a company email address (i.e. abcbusiness.com, etc.)
  • Implement internal protocols and hold your team accountable for those protocols
  • Speak with our personal and business insurance experts about your cyber risk vulnerabilities and how you can be protected from financial loss in the event of a breach.

Risk avoidance is vital for the continued cyber security of your personal life and your business.  By implementing pro-active steps now, you may save financial and emotional hardship in the future.

 

Sources

Aspen Institute, “Fight Back:  Stopping Cyber Criminals During a Pandemic.”  April 2020, virtual online conference

FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center, Consumer Alerts

US National Counterintelligence and Security Center, Twitter, April 2020

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