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5 Easy Ways to Make Your Client's Personal Data More Secure

By: Total Computer Solutions

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Data security should be a top priority for insurance agencies. These firms handle high-value personally identifiable information (PII), such as birthdates, social security numbers, and even health records. Should a hacker steal the data, they might use it to commit identity fraud. Therefore, as a provider, you want to secure your data in compliance with the law, and to maintain customer trust.

According to HIPAA Journal, hackers stole or accessed at least 135,060,443 healthcare records (including health plan data) between 2015 and 2018. Your insurance agency can avoid such security breaches by taking the following five steps:

1. Know Where Your Data Is

You need to determine where your data is before you can protect it. Are you sharing your customer data with third-party providers, such as cloud services? Which datasets are you handling and storing on-premise? Next, classify your data based on how sensitive and vulnerable it may be. For example, credit card information and SSNs are high-value targets for hackers, so be sure to track and classify such data accordingly. 

2. Review Relevant Personal Data Security Rules

Protect your company from hefty fines for noncompliance with several data security rules. It's in your best interest to study relevant Federal and State laws so you may figure out what they require of your insurance agency. For instance, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) defines requirements for data security management, processes, protocols, as well as network and software design. Any firm that accepts credit card payments should comply with PCI DSS regulations.

Other critical data compliance mandates include:

  • HIPAA/HITECH
  • Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) 
  • State data breach notification requirements

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3. Conduct a Thorough Cyber-Risk Assessment

It's imperative that you assess your entire IT footprint for cyber threats, including on-premise and cloud computing risks. Identify all the network security gaps and vulnerabilities. Be sure to cover the following areas:

  • Customer portals: Any interfaces that customers use to interact with your system. These include online and mobile portals.
  • Endpoints: How many physical devices connect to your company's network? Identify all end-user hardware because it's a potential target for phishing, spyware, malware, or ransomware attack. The most vulnerable end-point devices are office desktops and mobile devices, such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
  • Credit card transactions: Hackers target credit card transactional data because it includes high-value PII.
  • Vendors: Be sure to investigate the security safeguards that third-parties handling or processing your customers' data have in place. It's your legal responsibility to protect the sensitive personal information you share with software vendors or cloud providers.
  • On-premise systems: Hackers may target the management information system, content management system, or other on-premise software that your employees interact with day to day.

4. Train Your Employees

Cybersecurity starts with you. Also, make sure the staff understands the obligations, and they have mastered everything, from password security to data compliance. Usually, agents handle sensitive company and customer data while executing official tasks, including:

  • Medical claims processing: The job involves the manipulation of protected personal health information (ePHI).
  • Billing and underwriting: These processes involve the collection and maintenance of personally identifiable information, including client name and date of birth. If the customer is a patient, underwriters will capture personal health information.
  • Accident/personal injury investigations: Technology helps insurers collect and preserve confidential intelligence on accident or injury situations.

5. Protect the Data

Implement robust cybersecurity measures for your insurance agency's data. These include firewall protection for your company network, intrusion detection and elimination, and endpoint security. Be sure to encrypt all data on both on-premise and offsite servers. In-transit data also requires encryption.

The above are the fundamental steps you need to take to secure your insurance agency's network. However, a comprehensive cybersecurity plan includes specifics that depend on your unique needs. This is where Total Computer Solutions comes in! Engage us right away for a network security assessment toward keeping your business data safe.     

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