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Chartered surverys


Established in 1881


Are you switched on when it comes to online security?


“Not a day passes without some reference in the news to the latest hacking scam. Global auction site Ebay and the UK’s largest parenting networking site, Mumsnet, are just two of the latest victims of vicious cyber-attacks, which have breached the personal data of millions of users.

“Bugs and viruses, such as Heartbleed or Zeus, are becoming increasingly common in compromising online security. The worry, of course, is that soon enough, hackers will find a way of stealing valuable financial information, and when that happens, the results could be catastrophic.

“A recent survey conducted by Zurich showed that small businesses are particularly concerned about data loss, privacy breaches and technology vulnerabilities. So what should you do if you’re worried about cybercrime? There are some golden rules to remember, whether you’re a business or an individual, that will help you remain vigilant against such threats.

1. Ratchet up your own IT security. Do not use the same password for different sites, and make sure you use a combination of numbers, letters and characters so your passwords are as strong as possible.  

2. Treat emailed in-links with caution. Although ‘click through’ password re-set links are often sent by companies you might be familiar with, fraudsters are still using this as a way to ‘phish’ for sensitive data by sending people to fake websites.

3. Invest in cyber protection and encryption software. Businesses in particular should seek advice from ICT experts to make sure they are taking the necessary steps to protect their data and ensure their firewalls are as robust as possible.

4. Use multi-authentication to access your online banking. Many financial institutions now offer business and personal customers a device which generates a unique numerical code. If you haven’t already got access to this added layer of security, get on the case.   

5. Talk to your staff. Make sure they’re fully aware of the cybercrime threat and understand the risks of clicking on unsolicited emails or links. Emphasise how important it is to look after electronic devices when travelling abroad on business. And capture all this information in a written security policy so there is no uncertainty.

“There are many more steps that can be taken to protect yourself online, and it goes without saying that taking out a specific cybercrime insurance policy will give you that extra peace of mind. The main thing to remember is to be alert to the risks and if in doubt, seek advice so you’re not caught out.”   

Simon Winiarski is a Director at Russell Scanlan, one of the UK’s leading independent insurance broking and risk managing firms.

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