October has been designated CyberSecurity Awareness month
Following the lead of the U.S Department of Homeland Security, Massachusetts has designated the month of October as National Cyber Security Awareness Month. In response to the growing importance of cybersecurity for financial services, last month, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation hosted a Cybersecurity for Financial Services Conference.
“Cybersecurity is not just about keeping personal and financial information secure,” said Jay Ash, Secretary of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. “It’s about being prepared for a breach, educating employees on how to handle sensitive material, and knowing what to do if a breach occurs.”
According to OCABR which cites the latest data from the Ponemon Institute, an independent research company providing insights on privacy, data protection, and information security policy, cyber crime rose 19 percent globally last year. It also says the US per record cost of data breach averages $221.
“Cybersecurity is one of the most significant investments a business should make,” said John Chapman, Undersecretary of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. “As chair of the Financial Services Advisory Council, I know how critical a comprehensive cybersecurity plan is to financial services companies and to protecting our economy at large. As the risks of cybersecurity breaches increase, the financial services industry needs to be prepared to meet the ever-changing challenges of keeping consumer’s information and finances protected.”
With these figures in mind, it is no wonder that cyber insurance is poised for tremendous growth over the next decade. In another report cited by the agency, the PricewaterhouseCoopers Global State of Information Security Survey found that overall the average spending for information security is up 14 percent.
On the local front, aside from the possibilities of this new line of insurance, agents and insurers should also be on the front line in securing their own companies from a cyber attack.
How an agencies can make the work place more cyber secure
Independent agencies must remember, similar to larger financial services institutions, many small agencies hold a wealth of highly sensitive data. As such, it is important that agencies take a look at cyber security, not only as another line of insurance to offer their insureds, but as something that they address in their own business. The following are some tips that the MassIT Enterprise Security Office offered last year as a way to ensure better cyber security. Agency Checklists is reprinting them again this year as they are tips that can be shared both in your office as well as with your insureds:
Make all passwords complex and be sure to implement a policy in which they are changed regularly; Better yet, look into the industry initiative SignOn Once;
Only open emails or attachments from people you know;
Think about creating electronic and or physical back-ups or copies of your company’s most important data or work.
Keep an up-to-date computer, meaning that all computer programs and software are updated in a timely fashion;
Use a screen saver on your office computer that activate within a maximum of 15 minutes after no keyboard or mouse activity; this helps avoid a vulnerable work station resulting from an impromptu absence from your office due to a meeting, etc.
Lock your computer each evening by pressing “CTRL+ALT+DELETE then select Lock this computer”