As discussed in the previous blog, the insurance sector, like other financial institutions, face various unique cybersecurity challenges. Of primary concern is its responsibility for safeguarding sensitive customer data. This data has long been a prime target for cybercrime — a trend that has endured even as today’s IT landscape, and the threats against it, continue to evolve.
For insurance IT professionals protecting this data, fortifying endpoints, and securing networks are constant anxieties that keep them up at night. The task can sometimes appear daunting knowing a cyber event can happen at anytime. In fact, according to techjury.net, over 30,000 websites worldwide are hacked daily. Every 39 seconds, there is a new attack somewhere on the web. The same website also notes that 64 percent of companies worldwide have experienced at least one form of cyber-attack in the past year alone.
With these disturbing statistics, what can insurance companies, their agents, and other financial institutions do to mitigate these never-ending dangers? Are there some simple everyday steps that can be taken to improve overall cyber security? While it may seem simplistic, the best approach is multilayered, utilizing several different security tools and processes. The more layers of security you have the better protected you will be. Here are a few easy things that you should immediately implement or expand.
- Employee Training and Awareness: Regularly educate employees about cybersecurity best practices, with a focus on identifying and avoiding phishing attacks and other social engineering tactics. This is critical for the insurance industry.
- Access Control: Implement strict access controls to ensure that only authorized individuals can access sensitive data and systems, following the principle of least privilege.
- Patch Management: Keep all software and systems up to date with the latest security patches to address known vulnerabilities that ransomware attackers could exploit.
- Email Security: Use email filtering and anti-phishing solutions to block malicious attachments and links, as email is a common vector for ransomware delivery.
- Backup and Recovery: Maintain regular, encrypted backups of critical data and systems, and ensure their integrity. Test backup restoration procedures to ensure they are effective in case of a ransomware attack.
- Endpoint Security: Deploy comprehensive endpoint protection solutions, including anti-malware, intrusion detection, and firewall capabilities on all devices to defend against ransomware infections.
- Incident Response Plan: Develop and regularly update an incident response plan that outlines procedures for responding to a ransomware attack, including steps for containment, recovery, and communication.
- Get help: Third-party managed security providers like 11:11 Systems can support you at every step of your cybersecurity journey. Don’t be afraid or think such services are cost-prohibitive. With a cyberattack costing companies globally on average at least $4 million per incident investing in managed security has never been a more worthwhile investment.
“Your employees are your first line of defense against malware attacks, so you should train them to recognize attacks and educate them about ransomware threats and how to detect signs of compromised systems.”
– Charles Clarke, Senior Director, Veeam North America
While one size might not fit all, it has been proven that the single most effective measure any company regardless of size can take to prevent a ransomware attack is robust and continuous employee training in cybersecurity awareness. Ransomware attacks often infiltrate insurance organizations through employees who unknowingly click on malicious links or download infected attachments in phishing emails.
According to Forbes Advisor, the best bang for your buck is often better and more frequent training and education as many companies are not preparing their employees to detect and report threats. Vigilance is key. Increasing awareness among employees about the risks associated with email attachments, suspicious links, and social engineering tactics should never be a “one-off” exercise.
Regular cybersecurity training helps employees recognize the telltale signs of phishing attempts and equips them with the knowledge to respond appropriately. It instills a security-conscious culture within the organization, reducing the likelihood of successful attacks. According to Charles Clarke, Senior Director at Veeam North America, “Regularly empowering employees with knowledge is the first line of defense against ransomware attacks, making it the best preventative measure an (insurance) company can adopt”.
While these are some of the best measures all companies should be taking, it’s important to remember that cybersecurity is a multi-layered effort. A combination of various security measures, continuous monitoring, and an adaptable approach is essential for effectively preventing and responding to cyber threats and ransomware attacks.
The insurance sector is no exception, and a multi-layered security strategy has never been more critical for this industry. By using a stringent multi-layered approach insurance companies and their branch offices can fortify their operational security, and stay resilient in the face of constantly evolving cybersecurity threats all while safeguarding sensitive customer data.
To learn more about 11:11 Systems Managed Security Services check out the additional resources below.