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Lock Down Data From Cyber Security Threats

Big data breaches, especially of high-profile businesses, are on the rise, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. In the last year, eBay, Target, Neiman Marcus, JPMorgan Chase, and Home Depot all experienced  high-profile data breaches.

Over the course of 2013, 614 publicly disclosed data breaches occurred, with more than 92 million personal records compromised, compared with 449 publicly disclosed breaches in 2012, according to the ITRC.

The Department of Homeland Security, along with the National Cyber Security Alliance, declared October National Cyber Security Awareness Month. This month, businesses and individuals alike examine and improve their personal cyber security and identity theft prevention tactics. Hackers move quickly, but you can take precautions to stay steps ahead.

Businesses and big data

Businesses small and large can prepare for and counteract negative effects. The most obvious tactic is securing customer information. Proper encryption of customer data can cut the risk and make it harder for outside parties to gain access to the wrong information.

Businesses can purchase commercial cyber risk insurance to help deal with the financial toll of any breaches that do occur. As the digital breach era continues, cyber risk policies become more and more prevalent, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III).

So what does a cyber-risk insurance policy cover? The coverage helps in two main ways:

  • Liability: This coverage can help a business pay for legal expenses, including a final judgment, in cases of network security liability, communications and media liability, or regulatory defenses.
  • Material costs of a breach: This coverage may help pay for certain expenses including crisis management events, customer notifications, and business interruption, among others.

If you own a business, make sure you prepare for the risks you face, which may include cyber threats. Even if you don’t own a business, you can protect your information by limiting your shopping to only those businesses that pledge comprehensive encryption and insurance services.

Safety closer to home

Sure, safeguarding your data is the responsibility of the businesses you use, but no one cares about your personal data more than you. That’s why you can and should take safety measures at home.

Identity theft still occurs mostly offline – believe it or not. In 2013, Americans filed more than 2 million identity-theft complaints in the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Database. Of those complaints, the largest portion resulted from a stolen wallet or purse (44%) or an auto burglary (16%). Only 15% of the claims came from online scams.

The big takeaway here: Secure important documents and credit cards first and then worry about online threats.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take precautions on the web. Common online safety practices include checking for security badges on online checkouts and never giving out a Social Security number to any unverified source.

The most common online complaints were sale of auto fraud, real estate scams, and FBI impersonation email scams, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.  Beware of these three most common types of online scams and you should be fine.

Still worried about your information? For additional identity theft security, purchase identity theft protection as an endorsement to your home insurance policy. This coverage can help you fund your data recovery process by paying for expenses – including in some cases lost wages – as you re-establish your identity. Check with your policy or endorsement to see exactly what’s covered.

The best way to avoid identity theft and cyber threats is to remain informed. That way, a minor breach won’t cause you major headaches.

Photo credit for preview image: Flickr user/Don Hankins

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