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Four Ways to Protect Yourself from Cyber Crime

Between work projects, ordering groceries, paying bills, and keeping in touch with friends on social media, most of us spend a lot of time online. While the Internet can make life so much more convenient, it can also expose us to cyber criminals trying to steal our money or our personal information.

Reducing the chance that you’ll be impacted by cybercrime doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. In honor of Cyber Security Awareness Month, here are four ways you can stay cyber safe, courtesy of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). Follow these procedures at home and at work. And see below if your small business needs cyber insurance!

Choose strong passwords and use a password manager.  Avoid using simple passwords like 12345, or personal details like birthdays or pets’ names. This information is easy for hackers to discover, leaving you vulnerable to breaches. CISA recommends passwords be long (at least 16 characters), random (mix letters, numbers, and symbols, or use a memorable phrase), and unique—one for every account.

Worried about remembering all those passwords? Use a password manager—a program that stores your passwords and automatically fills them in when you log on. Then all you need to remember is your password for the password manager! Check Consumer Reports, PC Mag, or CNET for advice and recommendations for a reputable password manager.

    Use multifactor authentication (MFA), also known as two-factor authentication or two-step authentication. This means whenever you log in, you’ll be required to have a second method of proving who you are—perhaps a numeric code sent to you by text or email, an authenticator app or use of biometrics (fingerprint or face recognition). Often, you’ll find this option under Account Settings & Privacy or similar. Turn it on every chance you get, especially for banking info, online purchases or bill paying, email, social media.

    Recognize and report phishing. Phishing refers to when criminals attempt to access your computers or personal information by getting you to open harmful emails, links, or attachments. The emails or links often appear to be from someone or some organization that you know and trust. They often use urgency and/or an appeal to emotion as tactics to get you to click. Watch for incorrect or shortened email addresses, links or URLs (“amazan” instead of amazon, for instance). They may also request personal or financial information. DO NOT click on any links or attachments including the “unsubscribe” button. Report them as spam, block the sender, and delete the message.

    Keep software updated. This is the simplest of all the tips. Check for updates regularly when you log on, or, better yet, sign up for automatic updates. Updates often include security patches for known weaknesses, as well as features to improve performance and fix bugs. If you choose to download updates yourself, make sure they’re from your device’s app store. Don’t respond to random pop-up windows on websites you visit.

    Need cyber insurance?

    If you own a small business that uses or stores the personal information of clients, you should consider buying cyber insurance. Cyber insurance protects your liability in case of data breach, loss or corruption of data, identity theft, cyber extortion, and more. It’s one more way you can protect your business from the unexpected.

    Please call an L & M Insurance Group agent at 813-672-4100 if you have any questions about cyber insurance, or any of your personal or commercial insurance needs. L & M Insurance Group is a full-service, independent insurance agency, serving Tampa, Brandon, Riverview, Valrico and surrounding communities. (Click here if you’d prefer to contact us online.)

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    Protect Yourself and Your Business From Cyber Security Threats

    Cyber Security Threats can Affect You and Your Business

    You’ve probably read about data breaches at large companies such as Equifax, Target, and Home Depot as well as other types of cyber attacks. But did you know that small businesses and even individuals are also at risk and can find themselves devastated by a cyber attack? In fact, Florida has the second highest number of victims of cybercrime in the U.S., and ranks third in the nation for frequency of identity theft, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III).

     

    Phishing and Ransomware Cybercrime

    Two of the most common cybercrimes are phishing and ransomware. Phishing refers to hackers trying to trick you into sharing your private information through an email or a webpage offer. Popular phishing schemes include emails that purport to be from your bank or credit card company, a friend in need of money, or threatening you for some unnamed illegal action.

     

    Ransomware is malicious software (malware) designed to block access to your system and demanding ransom payment to restore access.

     

    There are things you can do to protect yourself. These tips apply to individuals, employees, and business owners.

     

    To Protect Yourself from Cyber Attacks

    • Create strong, unique passwords. Passwords are your first line of defense against cyber criminals. DO NOT use the same password for all your login credentials. If you have a hard time remembering your passwords, download an app to store them.
    • Use extreme caution when clicking links or opening email attachments. Don’t click links appearing in emails if you have any doubt at all about their legitimacy, even if the email looks like it’s from someone you know. Be skeptical of any urgent requests for money or bank transfers.
    • Protect your personal information. If you get an email from your bank or credit card company requesting personal information, call the number on your credit card or statement to verify the request.
    • Look for the security lock symbol in the web address of any site that asks for your personal information. Click on the lock to check that it has an up-to-date security certificate.
    • Keep all system software up to date.
    • Install, update and run security software such as anti-virus and malware protection programs.
    • Back up and store data at a secure offsite location.

    How Cyber Insurance Can Protect Your Business

    One more tip, if you have your own business: Consider buying cyber insurance (also known as cyber liability insurance). Business owners policies may provide some coverage for losses related to cyber incidents such as a computer virus or hardware failure. However, to better protect your business, consider buying a stand-alone cyber insurance policy tailored to your specific business needs. Cyber insurance covers several types of risks including, loss or corruption of data, business interruption, liability, identity theft, cyber extortion, and data breach.

     

    “Virtually all businesses use information technology (IT) in some way—to communicate via email, to provide information or services through a website, to store and use customer data and more. Your business can be held liable if certain data is compromised….” notes the III.

     

    At L & M Insurance Group, we take cyber security seriously, taking steps to protect both our business and our clients’ personal information. Please call us at 813-672-4100 if you need to discuss cyber insurance, or any other aspect of commercial or personal lines insurance.

     

    Stay Cyber Safe This Holiday Season

    Cyber Safe
    While you’re shopping for and exchanging gifts with loved ones, scammers and identity thieves are lurking in the background, waiting to take advantage of unwary consumers. At L & M Insurance Group, we do our best to make sure your personal assets are covered by appropriate insurance. As a service, we’d like to remind you to reduce your risk of identity theft and credit card fraud by protecting your personal information with common sense precautions. To help you stay cyber safe this holiday season, here are a few tips, courtesy of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and StaySafeOnline.org’s “Stop. Think. Connect.” campaign.

    Cautious Clicking
    Be cautious about clicking links in emails, online advertising, posts, and tweets, especially when they originate with someone you don’t know. Cybercriminals often use bogus links to compromise your computer with malware. Make sure all your household’s computers, smart phones, or tablets are running the most current versions of software and apps. And if you haven’t already done so, install anti-virus software, anti-spyware software, and a firewall.

    Watch out for offers that sound too good to be true, or that encourage you to act immediately. If you’re shopping a website that is new to you, check online reviews to make sure it’s legitimate and that previous customers have had positive experiences. Look for web addresses that start with “https,” and the “lock” icon on your browser’s status bar to indicate your personal information will be sent securely.

    Be careful what you share on social networking sites. Too much information can give an identity thief the clues he needs to answer security questions that will give him access to your accounts. Don’t post your full name, Social Security number, address, phone number, or any account numbers on publicly accessible sites.

    Password Power
    Create strong passwords for your accounts by combining upper and lowercase letters with symbols. The FTC suggests thinking of a special phrase and using the first letter of each word as your password. You can also substitute numbers for some words or letters. For example: “I love to fish with my dad” could become 1L2fWmD. Use unique passwords for each account, and write them down someplace secure away from your computer.

    Wi-Fi Wisdom
    Connecting to the Internet while out and about is a convenience—just be sure you adjust your security settings to keep others from accessing your personal information. If you must send personal information over public wi-fi, make sure to use a secure wireless network, not just an encrypted website. If the network isn’t secure, don’t visit bank accounts or your email—you could be opening the door to cybercriminals.

    Use these tips to stay cyber safe this holiday season—and all year long. If you want to know more about protecting your personal information, please visit StaySafeOnline.org.

    The staff of L & M Insurance Group would like to wish you and your family a very happy and safe holiday season!