Private Cyber Dangers Each Home-owner Ought to Perceive
This post is part of a series sponsored by The Cincinnati Insurance Companies.
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month and the perfect time to reach your customers with cyber security risk protection strategies. In a recent interview with Insurance Journal, Don Culpepper of the Cincinnati Insurance Companies common best practices for securing your own home with a special focus on high net worth individuals and families. As a Senior Risk Management Territory Advisor, Don brings extensive personal experience and offers strategies to improve cybersecurity at home.
Don, what are some of the trends that have emerged over the past few years when you talk to people about household cyber risks?
Trend # 1
“It is crucial that we become more aware of what is going on in the house. Our home networks are far more vulnerable today than ever before. “
In the post-COVID era, more and more people are working from home. When you work with sensitive data, it is important that your network is secure. Don suggests the following best practices:
- Update passwords with complicated combinations of at least 12 characters, use uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.
- Make sure your company provides you with encryption software or a virtual private network (VPN) that protects your data and prevents residents from accessing your connection to the office network. Lock your device when you are away from your computer.
- Set up guest WiFi that others can use to limit the chances of someone accidentally letting a bad actor into your home or office network.
- Change the manufacturer-installed passwords on all devices installed in your home. Many of these devices are installed with .000, 1234, or admin: administrator, and the bad guys are well aware of this.
Trend # 2
“We now have more children and college students who work or be taught from home. The more connected devices, the greater the risk from bad actors. “
- Make sure your virus protection is up to date on all devices.
- Consider installing a VPN to protect your home network.
- Pay attention to update notices on all devices. For example, Apple released an emergency update in September to protect against zero-click malware.
- Use a technology company that employs certified information security professionals to set up your home network.
Trend No. 3
“We have more connected devices and devices like Alexa, Google Assistant, Facebook Portal and Echo. These devices are designed to assist homeowners with routine household chores. However, they also harbor the potential for malicious actors to access personal data or overhear conversations. In addition, smart home appliances can be used to spread spam, malware, ransomware and more. “
Innovations in connected devices offer homeowners convenience, but require vigilant password protection. Any connected device can become the fulcrum through which a malicious actor can send nefarious email anonymously. With these household items like smart refrigerators or washing machines, once the pivot point is hacked, it can send thousands of emails per hour and protect the identity of the malicious actor. Evil actors have been known to hack baby monitors to watch and scare sleeping babies, smart doorbell and television cameras are modified to watch homeowners, and your own laptop camera can be remotely accessed to watch over you .
Carefully consider the interconnected devices you will place in your home and their connectivity to the Internet. For example, a digital thermostat connected to the internet cannot be controlled if the internet goes down. For those who live in regions with extreme weather conditions, this may not be advisable as loss of heating or cooling could put residents and their homes at risk.
Trend # 4
“There is an increase in large-scale phishing attempts by malicious actors via email, text-based phone messaging, and social networks. So when you look at your email, you have to be very careful about how you react to email and what clicks you make on your various devices. “
Look out for these tactics:
- Malvertising, a tactic used on Facebook, occurs when malicious actors use online advertisements to spread malware.
- Unsolicited communication, known as pretexting, occurs when a poor actor has enough information about a person to convince them to do something they normally wouldn’t or to provide information that they normally wouldn’t would not provide.
- Recently, the Airdrop feature on iPhone has been exploited in crowded areas to send unwanted information and photos to people whose privacy settings have not been set for this information sharing feature. (To secure your iPhone Airdrop function: Settings> General> AirDrop)
Don, let’s focus on wealthy families. Are they a target for a unique set of threats?
“A lot of high net worth clients want the latest, newest, and greatest equipment and devices, and because of their busy and personal lifestyle, they usually don’t think about the risks and preventive behaviors that we have been discussing here, or they have people doing this for they should do. One of the risks to wealthy people is that the internet can be easily browsed to identify identity, financial status, family members, places of residence and the like, making them an easy target. “
Unique Risks and Mitigation Strategies To Consider For Your Wealthy Clients:
- These households often include many non-family members, including housekeeping staff, janitors, and contractors. Homeowners should check out equipment installers and be sure to allow non-family members access to equipment within the home.
- Because privacy is so important, contractors and employees should sign confidentiality agreements prior to commencing employment to protect the location of the home and identification of family members from social media exploitation or privacy breaches.
- Avoid posting travel and location in real time on social media. From a photo posted on social media, a bad actor can use geotagging to identify exactly where the photo was taken, to determine where a residence is, or how far a homeowner is from that residence at that time . To protect the identity of children, refrain from sharing their location and pictures on social media.
- With travel being part of the job and requiring social media presence, increase physical security at home while on the go.
- High net worth individuals are often the target of financial fraud. Use caution when receiving email requests for information or electronic signature requests. Either confirm the sender by phone or delete the email and wait for further inquiries from legitimate contacts whom you seek by other means.
What is your advice to insurance brokers with high net worth clients?
“See if you have the opportunity to meet with the client or their agent to get a real understanding of their lifestyle and if that particular lifestyle increases the risk of identity theft or personal security issues.”
- Determine their social media practices, the platforms they use, and those of their extended family.
- Ask who has access or use of their devices or passwords.
- Propose a social media or cyber security rating.
- Discuss any current threats that need to be considered.
What type of coverage or services do you recommend to high net worth clients?
“In this particular environment, which is changing frequently, agents should work with a company that is vigilant about how coverage is designed and how it helps respond to any risks their customers may be exposed to.”
Look for companies that offer their customers:
- Risk mitigation services through home security advice, cybersecurity assessment, troubleshooting and other detection services.
- Identity theft, cybersecurity, and personal security coverage.
- Advocacy services that specialize in helping with identity theft recovery efforts.
- Crisis management and public relations to restore reputation after a violation.
Finally, Don advises us all to be vigilant as you enter National Cyber Awareness Month.
“The more you know what’s going on around you, in your home, in your devices, and with whom you interact, the better you understand the potential risks to you and your family.”
Reduce these risks through best practices and partnerships with industry experts who stay up to date on new cyber threat trends.
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