Protect yourself from cyber risk

We’re more attached than ever to our devices in an online world. While technological advances have made our lives easier, they also present new threats. Here are the top security risks to be aware of and tips on how to protect yourself.

Spam email

More than a passing annoyance, spam is often used to get your personal information (known as “phishing”) or pass malicious software onto your system.

  • Recognize the signs: spelling mistakes, strange formatting, long links with meaningless numbers, threatening language or other suspicious requests.
  • Only open or respond to email, text or instant messages from people or companies you know, and don’t click questionable links.

Keep in mind, places like your bank wouldn’t ask you to email your account information or threaten to close your account for not responding. And the Canada Revenue Agency does not send refunds direct to you by email.

Online shopping

If you’re shopping online, be thorough: if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

  • Shop online only with companies you trust.
  • Use a low-limit credit card for shopping online, or use prepaid cards.
  • Don’t let the site store your credit card number for future purchases.

Children’s online activities

Keeping kids safe online goes beyond limiting their access to certain sites. It’s also important to teach them safe Internet behaviours, such as:

  • Limit what information you post online and don’t share personal information in unencrypted files on your computer.
  • Accept friend requests only from people you know. Do not accept a second friend request from people who are already online friends without contacting them first.
  • Check the privacy settings on your social network sites. Limit access to posts, photos and other information to your family and friends.

In addition, it’s important to shield your child’s social insurance numbers from identity thieves looking for a clean history to use before anyone notices years later. You should also check your child’s credit rating when they reach their mid-teens. Consider any credit card offers in the mail addressed to your child as a sign that their data has been compromised.

Passwords

It’s tempting to use the same, easy password for all of your systems, but doing so makes it easier to access your data. Answers to password recovery questions can also be easy to guess from your online activity and social media posts.

  • Choose strong passwords that don’t rely on any information someone could easily find online, such as your pet’s name, your birthday or address, etc.
  • Change your passwords frequently and don’t share your passwords.
  • Use a password manager tool to keep track of passwords.

The Internet of Things

Objects connected to the Internet, such as smart home monitoring systems, wearable devices and modern cars, present a unique security challenge. Many industries use these devices, but without strong security, they’re exposed to potential risks.

  • Know what devices are connected to the Internet and what information is stored on each: not just cell phones and computers, but also gaming systems, media players, smart home devices and anything with a camera or microphone.
  • Secure your Internet connection with strong Wi-Fi and router passwords.
  • If you can, set up a separate network for smart devices and install a firewall.
  • Update your devices regularly.

Ransomware

Computer viruses and other malicious software have been around for some time. With ransomware, hackers restrict access to your data, and then demand payment from you to release it. The latest targets are cloud-based systems like OneDrive, Dropbox and Google Drive.

  • Make a habit of backing up your data in a few secure places, like portable hard drives.
  • Keep your system software up to date, especially antivirus programs. Make sure it’s set up to scan compressed or archived files.
  • Turn off unused wireless connections like Bluetooth or infrared ports.
  • If you think your computer is under attack, shut off your main Internet connection and consult an information technology professional.

Concerned about identity thieves? You may already be covered.

Your Home insurance policy includes Identity Theft coverage up to $10,000 ($25,000 for clients with Prestige Plus). It’s also part of most Farm dwelling and personal property policies, and available through our Commercial Advantage Endorsement for business owners.

Cyber Guard coverage for your business

In our increasingly connected world, cyber breaches pose a threat to businesses of all sizes. A cyber breach occurs when sensitive, protected or confidential data – such as client names, addresses and banking information – is exposed to an unsafe environment, intentionally or unintentionally.

Our Cyber Guard Select package enhances the standard cyber coverage included on eligible Cooperators Business insurance policies to include more protection, higher limits and flexible add-ons. Coverage includes:

  • Privacy Breach Expenses – for unexpected expenses and/or costs of complying with privacy laws if your business loses personal information.
  • Business Interruption – for lost income or increased costs if your business operations are interrupted by a privacy breach event.
  • Cyber Event Liability – for third-party lawsuits resulting from a cyber event.
  • Privacy Regulatory Liability – for taxes, fines and penalties from a potential regulatory proceeding in response to a cyber event.

Cooperators Business insurance clients also have access to CyberScout® (a SontiqTM brand), our dedicated risk-management partner. They’ll help you reduce your risk and effectively respond in the event of a privacy breach.

Want to learn more about protecting your personal information at home and at work? Connect with us today.

Coverage provided on a claims made and reported basis, i.e. claims must be made against the insured and reported during the policy period for coverage to apply. Commercial insurance is underwritten by Cooperators General Insurance Company. Please refer to your policy for applicable coverage limitations and exclusions. Not all products are available in all provinces.

CyberScout® is a registered trademark of SontiqTM. Cooperators® is a registered trademark of The Cooperators Group Limited. Cooperators General Insurance Company is committed to protecting the privacy, confidentiality, accuracy and security of the personal information that we collect, use, retain and disclose in the course of conducting our business. Please visit cooperators.ca/privacy. To contact us, visit cooperators.ca or call 1-877-545-2667 (in Quebec, call 1-877-630-2667).