As the world navigates the global COVID-19 outbreak, individuals and companies alike need to be more aware than ever of the threats from opportunistic cybercriminals. Online threats are up by six times their normal levels, according to Cloudflare.
As you help your customers manage through these unprecedented times, your business must remain vigilant to protect against the increasing number of scams circling the globe right now.
These can be broadly split into the following three categories:
1) Phishing and social engineering scams. Keep an eye out for individuals impersonating organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Phishing attacks have increased by more than 600% since the beginning of March, according to KnowBe4, including not only traditional impersonation scams but also business email compromise (BEC) and extortion attacks.
The goal of the attacker is to entice you into clicking on a link, opening an attachment or giving out personal information. Falling victim to phishing attacks can greatly compromise the data security of any business.
2) Sale of fraudulent or counterfeit goods. As various industries navigate supply chain constraints and demand for certain goods increase, there will likely be a spike in fake goods produced, especially online.
Even if products look legitimate, there is no guarantee that the products even really exist. Interpol reported that it had already seized $14 million in fake goods. We suggest that you rely on trusted products and companies when sourcing goods right now.
3) Misinformation. Incorrect information does not always have the same tangible financial impact as other types of cybercriminal activity, but it can still be used to cause panic and result in shortages of supplies and critical medical equipment.
As we continue to navigate the outbreak and evaluate opportunities to reopen economies, we encourage you to stay tuned to updates from the CDC, WHO and your local government entities.
Securing Your Business and Data
As recreational hackers have more time on their hands during the shutdown, it is more important than ever to protect your business and customers’ data from malicious attacks. Having the right technologies in place will keep your business protected and allow you to continue to operate and support customers when they need you most.
Consider how the cloud—the term for the collective software and services that run on the internet as opposed to locally on your computer—can protect and support your business for these five reasons:
1) Improve your business continuity. With the cloud, your critical applications and data reside in a secure data center, which provides redundancy for power, internet access and a physical infrastructure that offers greater protection from unpredicted business interruptions. The ability to remotely access and use your core business systems enables your agency or brokerage to maintain operations and continue to serve your clients anywhere, anytime.
2) Increase information security and data management. With an uptick of news stories on the latest corporate data breaches, maintaining data protection has become table stakes for business success and client loyalty.
In the cloud, you gain an extra layer of data defense by maintaining critical business information in secure data centers. In addition, your business benefits from implementing more efficient data management and data access processes.
The cloud ensures you are running the latest version of your software applications, including any antivirus programs. By offering an exponential amount of data storage, the cloud allows you to focus on growing your business and clients without the concern of running out of storage space.
3) Provide better customer service. As we navigate the lasting changes caused by the coronavirus, the cloud provides you and your employees remote access to up-to-date client and policy information using virtually any connected device, enabling you to reach and service clients at any time regardless of location.
Instant access to information enables agents, customer service representatives, producers and others to provide clients faster service that can lead to higher productivity.
4) Reduce costs to maintain and manage information technology infrastructure. The average agency or brokerage operates without dedicated IT personnel and lack the expertise to deploy and manage multiple IT applications required in business today, as well as the hardware and software needed to run and protect these systems.
Cloud technology eliminates many requirements for hardware and software on-site and can significantly reduce your budget and capital costs. It also reduces the need for personnel to manage IT infrastructure, like security, freeing up time and money to focus more on core insurance activities, such as client-facing activities that improve customer service and satisfaction.
5) Increase your business agility. The flexibility of a cloud solution can be ideal for insurance agencies and brokerages that need to scale their business quickly to meet changing needs, such as a business acquisition or rapid growth, without the time and expense of adding or integrating new IT capacity.
Since applications are hosted remotely in data centers and accessible via the internet, new users can quickly connect to systems of record and gain access to data across your business enterprise, improving collaboration and productivity.
While you can’t predict when a data breach could impact your business, you can prepare your business to protect against the damaging impacts of one. Integrating cloud solutions helps minimize data security concerns and ensures business uptime during events that could otherwise cripple the business.
Ultimately, relying on the cloud as part of your business continuity plan safeguards your business’s most important assets: your relationships with loyal customers and employees.
Kris Hackney is executive vice president of customer experience, Applied Systems.