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The ABC of cyber safety

11 May 2020 Bertus Visser, Chief Executive of Distribution at PSG Insure

As the lock down continues, more businesses will be doing all they can to keep operating online. Cybercriminals have been quick to exploit any opportunities and vulnerabilities they can find, highlighting the importance of cyber security and cyber insurance yet again.

While technology enables us to perform many tasks remotely, it can also leave our online security in the cold, unless protection is put in place.

Short-term insurance can cover you, but it will often be subject to demonstrating safe, responsible cyber behaviour.

As now is the time when cyber criminals will be looking to find a weak spot, don’t let your business fall victim. Here are three key tips – the ABC of cyber safety - to keep in mind.

A is for awareness

Ensure your employees are aware of the cyber risks as a start. With staff working remotely, assess if all laptops are protected by anti-virus software, or if staff are using personal computers that they install adequate protection. Managing staff behaviour online is crucial, as well as limiting access to sensitive information as appropriate.

B is for backup

If you are among businesses who don’t believe in backing up their data, make a change asap. This lock down may be an opportunity to reduce some procedures or data you store, as you ensure you frequently back up everything you need. Ensure your anti-virus and malware software is sufficient and keeping pace with your risks too.

C is for cut complacency

You need to constantly practise your cyber safety procedures; having virus protection in place doesn’t mean you should click on something risky anyway. Like you would lock your car every day, you need to lock your data away safely too and treat it with care along the way. Password management and complacency don’t go together; change passwords frequently or consider alternative biometric measures, where possible. An example may be a fingerprint login.

Rather be safe than sorry

Above all, you should be prioritising whatever you can, realistic to your unique circumstances, to keep your business safe online. Depending on the nature of your business, insurance requirements may be more intensive (to ensure you are managing your own risks too).

Also keep your personal safety in mind. Cybercrime may present less physical danger than other crimes, but it can become dangerous if there are ransom demands to retrieve data. Cyber criminals are smart, and civilians should rather involve the authorities as needed, as they are experienced in dealing with criminal activity. Remember that a data breach can lead to extortion or expensive legal issues, as well as costly business interruption.

Always be vigilant and aware of the type of cybercrimes that exist (such as phishing emails, which aim to catch you unaware). One ‘click’ on the wrong link can have much bigger consequences than you think. Knowing exactly what is covered by your short-term insurance policy (and what may be excluded) is also important at this time. And you will have a bit more time these days under lock down (such as when you might have been driving to work) to assess whether your cyber cover is truly covering your risks.

Chat to your adviser for guidance (reach out with a call or email) sooner than later to check on, or top up your cyber cover, before it’s too late.

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