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Why Insurers Need a Proactive Cybersecurity Program

As insurance companies immerse themselves in the ongoing digital transformation, they rely more heavily on remote solutions to provide services to customers and complete daily tasks. Despite the benefits, that dependence increases the risk of an enterprise becoming exposed to a cyber attack. While cybersecurity insurance may help companies mitigate some of their losses, it doesn’t do much to help organizations take a more proactive approach to prevent attacks in the first place.

For that reason, businesses should also invest in building a robust cybersecurity program that puts them in a position where they have proper preventative measures in place. Otherwise, your insurance company may end up paying higher premiums because it lacks adequate protection against breaches.

In addition, you can incur additional expenses from business losses lawsuits. The resulting headlines could cost you the trust of clients and customers, impacting your organization’s ability to continue functioning.

What Kind of Threats Do Insurers Face?

Insurance companies maintain a lot of data about policyholders, including financial, personal health information (PHI), and personal identifiable information (PII). Because of that, they’ve become ripe targets for cybercriminals looking for vulnerable assets to exploit.

There are several different methods typically used by hackers to gain access to information held by insurance companies.

1. Social Engineering Hacks

In many instances, companies find themselves put at risk by their employees. For example, a cybercriminal might track the social media activity of workers to pick up on clues that help them figure out their login credentials. In other instances, they may send emails purporting to be from a company officer asking an employee to provide sensitive information. If the employee responds, that attacker has what they need to cause havoc within an insurance company’s systems.

2. Outdated Software Patches

Many bad actors periodically look for weaknesses in the external software used by insurance companies. For example, if a web developer used a specific component to build a website that contained a vulnerability, that hacker could use it to get inside an insurance company’s networks. Companies must stay on top of any necessary software patches to prevent these attacks.

3. Poor Cloud Architecture

Many insurance companies have started shifting their data access and storage to cloud technology. However, if there are issues with the architecture or security protections, it can represent a ripe opportunity for cybercriminals.

They may take advantage of the weakness to launch a Denial of Service (DoS) attack or try to hijack the account. If they manage to find a way in, online intruders can get into your organization’s PII and PHI data while blocking access to your company employees.

4. Use of Third-Party Services

Many companies use third-party software for services like payment processing. However, without adequate protections, cyber pirates can use malware to hijack information like credit card numbers and social security numbers when your company processes transactions.

For that reason, insurance companies must take the time to create security precautions for working with third-party vendors. In addition, your organizations should have a complete understanding of the security protocols that third-party vendor has in place.

5. Poorly Maintained Hardware

Hardware maintenance is essential to creating a robust cybersecurity framework. When companies make the mistake of assuming that hacking threats only emerge from software vulnerabilities, they could potentially neglect critical updates to their hardware. Attackers can exploit weaknesses in outdated hardware that might be difficult for your IT team to update.

How Can a Proper Cybersecurity Program Help?

Coming up with a one-size-fits-all approach to tackling cybersecurity threats can be a challenge. However, there are some common considerations insurance companies can handle with a proactive cybersecurity program.

  • Implement Periodic Risk Assessments — Conducting regular risk assessments help you identify and figure out the potential of future threats that might harm your insurance companies. Use risk assessments to establish the likelihood of an attack happening and the impacts on your business. That way, you can figure out how to lower the chances of a cyber breach.  

  • Set up Network Firewalls — Firewalls are hardware devices or programs that review your network traffic and put up barriers to attackers. For example, many insurance companies have employees using devices connected to a shared network. Having firewalls in place protects those internet connections and provides defenses against hackers looking for security weaknesses.

  • Establish a Security Culture — Insurance company employees should understand the threat to their organizations from potential cyber breaches and the resulting fallout that could occur. In addition, there are strict regulations outlined in laws like HIPAA that outline the protections insurance companies must have in place. For that reason, everyone within your organization must play a part in safeguarding sensitive data.

  • Conduct Periodic Security Testing — Your cybersecurity program should have a plan in place for regular testing of different vulnerabilities. That way, you can develop strategies to address them before it becomes a portal for a data breach.

  • Monitor Website Security — Because many insurance companies use online portals to communicate with insureds and providers, they should regularly test and monitor those outlets. That way, you can look for any software errors or other issues that might make it a target for cyber attacks. After each new release, ongoing monitoring and testing help protect your website from exploitation.

Stay Protected, with Havoc Shield

While cybersecurity insurance can help you recoup losses because of a cyber attack, a robust security framework can lower your risk of such an event. Learn more about how Havoc Shield can help you protect essential insurance company data by setting up a demo of our product built specifically for the insurance industry.

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