Many of you may remember the V-8 juice commercial where someone forgets their daily dose of tomato-flavored goodness, proceeds to initiate the face palm, and exclaims, “Wow, I could have had a V-8!” We have all done this at some point in our lives, where we remember something so very obvious at the most inopportune moment. This can often happen with insurance.
Most insurance customers are concerned about insuring their buildings, homes, personal property, and cars. We see the most obvious causes of loss in these primary coverages, whether it is in the news, social media, or through word-of-mouth. Car accidents and house fires are losses that grab customers’ attention the most. However, when additional insurance is offered, such as an umbrella policy, equipment breakdown, or employer’s liability, some purchasers take an “It won’t happen to me” approach and reject those coverages in favor of saving a little money.
Unfortunately, there is a new bully in town in the form of cybercrime. A cyberattack is like having Scut Farkus from the movie A Christmas Story move into your neighborhood. He’s mean, he’s nasty, and he’s just waiting for you to cross his path.
For years, our society did a good job of keeping our personal lives personal. The only time someone would know anything about us is from information provided on a check. Now, our bills are paid online, we unwittingly provide too much personal information on social media, and what used to be private is now an open book for all to see. We know so much about our neighbors and colleagues that not a whole lot is left to the imagination. Thus sets the stage for the breeding ground of a cyber predator.
So what do we as a society do to combat potential cybercrime? We purchase some virus software and after spending a Saturday afternoon installing the product, we return to our open book approach to our personal lives. Although software makers are smart and can help protect the consumer, there is a cyber predator who is just as smart looking for that open door to steal information from a home or business. They troll the Internet searching for the right victim and, just like young Mr. Farkus, they wait for us to be caught off guard. Before we know it, we’re a victim.
Since the Sony and Target cyber debacles, many consumers have had that V-8 moment…anyone can be a victim of a cyberattack. When millions of people can become robbed of their identity, their assets, and their sense of security, cybercrime becomes real.
In A Christmas Story, Scut Farkus met his match in Ralphie, the bespectacled kid who had been bullied one too many times. After a barrage of punches, Scut didn’t bother Ralphie and his friends again. We need to take the same approach with cybercrime. The threat can be minimized if consumers, whether you’re a homeowner or a businessowner, take an aggressive, proactive stance.
The best way anyone can protect their personal information is to use updated software on their computers and run regular updates on viruses. Paying bills online should be done on secured websites, and no information should ever be given to a person on the other end of the telephone. Restricting what you say on social media can help shield your personal information.
Businesses can protect themselves by ensuring that passwords are strong and used properly, and access to sensitive information restricted to those truly needing access. Employee training is critical, and monitoring online activities of employees can help signal if someone is improperly accessing data.
The insurance industry has been inundated with information on cyberexposure. Everywhere we turn, there is an article on the topic, giving examples on how to best protect the consumer. But knowledge is power and knowing that a cyberattack could be lurking around every corner like Scut Farkus can help us learn to be more diligent and take those precautions to avoid becoming a victim. For help protecting your personal or your business’s sensitive information, check out these helpful blog posts: