Category Archives: Identity Theft

When is the last time you changed your password?

identity theft insurance

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A recent article from NBCNEWS discusses the recent breach from a Russian crime ring, where they have stolen 1.2 billion username and password combos and more than 500 million email addresses.  These numbers are staggering, which likely means you could be one of them on this list.

Given the scope, it’s a smart decision to change your passwords on your accounts immediately to limit the potential impact of the breach affecting you. Experts state that is time to take more steps to keep you protected with big data breaches more common.  They suggest the following steps to keep you better protected.

Pick a better password: one that is not hard for you to remember but not easy for others to guess. Attorney Parry Aftab suggests, picking a sentence that can be boiled down to a string of letters, numbers and symbols. Example given:  “On Jason’s fourth birthday, he ate cake!,” which might boil down to “OJ4thbh8c!”

Beef up authentication:  Places like Gmail and Twitter, offer two-step verification. This requires users that log in from a new device to enter a code that gets sent to your mobile phone linked to your account.

Password Protect:  Make sure your phone, computer and tablet are password protected.  Attorney Aftab says not to set sites to automatically log in or save passwords.

Scan your computer:  According to experts, “Malware steals much more data than that each year. If there’s malware on your personal or work devices, other password protections won’t help at all. It will just grab the updated passwords.” Be sure to install software to help scan for viruses, spyware and other issues to keep your computer safe and be sure to scan regularly.

Insurance: Another simple solution is to purchase identity theft protection that can be added to your connecticut homeowners insurance policy.  For about $25.00 a year you have that added protection.  Depending on the company you can get coverage around $15,000-$25,000 which will cover expenses to get back your identity, such as lost time at work, lawyers and more.

With data breaches happening more often these days it’s better to take the necessary precautions to stay safe and protect your identity from being stolen.  Give Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance a call to help you with adding on identity theft protection to your connecticut homeowners policy and have the peace of mind that you are protected.

Protecting YOU is our Job

Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance

source info: NBCNEWS

Cyber Security Awareness Month- Tips for Your Teens

Tips for Teens on Cyber Safety

While PCs are likely a prerequisite for school-bound young adults, securing laptops or desktops is unlikely to be a top priority. Don’t let high school and college students head off to the classroom or campus life without the knowledge they need to protect their computers and the valuable information on them. The strategies below – tailored specifically to young adults – will help to avert online disasters.

Be on guard when you shop online. You can save a bundle by buying books and other school supplies online. But, when it comes to giving out your financial information, stick to companies you know and trust or to well-established retailers. Before you click the buy button, always check out the seller, what you are buying, and the payment details.

Work securely from wireless networks. Today’s world means you can access the Internet from a variety of public locations, from a coffee shop to a library to a train station. But, open networks run an increased security risk and are vulnerable to security breaches. When you can, choose networks that have a network security key, which means information sent over them is encrypted. Connect to a standard or wired network for the most protection.

Steer clear of peer-to-peer and file sharing networks. You always need to pay special attention to what you download and share online – peer-to-peer networks are often swamped with malicious files. And it’s not just music and movie downloads that you need to be aware of; malware often piggybacks on other freebies that promise ringtones, smilicons, and screensavers.

Navigate social networking sites with care. Social networking and other Web 2.0 features make communicating, socializing, and sharing information easier than ever. But they also open you up to a variety of online threats, so you need to be on guard when logging into online hotspots like MySpace and Facebook. To avoid phishing and malware installations, use caution when you check messages, click on advertisements, and access links in other members’ profiles.

Be wary of sharing your PC. You should not loan your computer out to friends and peers but, if you do, make sure they are operating under a limited-user account and not the all-powerful administrator account. This will minimize infections in the event of an accident.

Create strong passwords and change them regularly. Passwords help protect your computer and your various accounts from unauthorized access. Use complex passwords of at least 10 characters, comprised of letters, symbols and numbers. Do not have your browser store passwords and log-in credentials – this is especially important to remember if you are using a shared computer.

Backup your data regularly.Even the most prepared and cyber savvy among us are bound to run up against serious PC problems at one time or another. Prepare yourself for worst case scenarios (your laptop crashing the night before a term paper is due) in order to avert a complete disaster. All you need to do is set up a regular backup system for yourself by saving critical information on a CD, external hard drive or online server.

Limit the information you give out online. Don’t post too much information about yourself, whether it’s on a personal website, blog, or chat room. Identity theft is a real and growing problem, and openness on the Web can lead to someone harvesting your information for their gain.

Be skeptical of e-mail and instant messaging. Do not open e-mail attachments or click on links in instant messages from anyone, including ‘buddies’, unless you expect it. Verify the attachment before opening and scan with updated anti-virus software first. Be especially leery of odd subject lines and suspicious links. You’ll also need to watch out for phishing e-mails that purport to be from familiar organizations.

While it may seem difficult to fit cyber safety steps into the busy lives of young adults, keep this in mind: it’s easier to prepare yourself and your computer than to recover from lost data and private information after an online nasty compromises your system. So, during this school season and for the rest to come, be proactive in keeping your PC safe and secure.


Contact your local agent at Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance for more information on Cyber Insurance

Cyber Attacks on Small Businesses

Below you will find some great information on how to protect your Small Business from Cyber Attacks.

Recently cyber-attacks were back in the news, and the latest attempted victim was the White House. According to an October 1st report from the Washington Post the White House acknowledged that hackers attempted to remove data from a White House computer. While the attempt wasn’t successful thanks to mitigation efforts, the attack should serve as a reminder to all small businesses that they face risks of similar attacks from data thieves, and they may not have the same level of mitigation systems in place.

In addition to a hacker getting into your system, data theft can occur if an employee’s computer is stolen, or if an unauthorized person is able to access a computer in your office. It could even be a disgruntled employee who carries out data theft. Any business that collects and stores sensitive information from customers, including credit card information, contact information, credit information, social security numbers, medical information, etc. is at risk for data theft.
Here are a few tips to reduce your risks for cyber-attacks and data theft of sensitive customer information:
  • Change the passwords you and your employees use to log into your technology systems on a regular basis
  • Avoid emailing sensitive information, but if you do, use a secured email service
  • Have employees lock their computer screens when they step away from their desks
  • Avoid having un-escorted/unsupervised visitors walking through your office
  • Don’t open strange email attachments or click unusual links in emails, especially from an unknown sender as they may be scams
  • Have a written technology policy in place so that all of your employees understand the expectations and rules guiding how your business handles sensitive data
Loss of electronic data is not covered under most commercial theft policies because it is not a tangible asset, and most general liability policies also exclude coverage for your costs to notify customers of potential data theft, pay for the costs of investigating the loss or the costs of potential fines, penalties or lawsuits that result from a failure to protect the data. A cyber liability policy can provide your business with coverage that will help you cover several costs, including the expenses to inform your customers and regulatory authorities about the possible exposure of data.
For more information on a cyber-liability policy contact one of agents at Penny-Hanley & Howley Insurance.
Information source:

Social Media, Liability and CT Insurance

Hundreds of millions of people interact on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace and LinkedIn every day. Like any other new technology, social media brings enormous opportunities and benefits. The ability to communicate and interact instantaneously on a global scale 24/7 enables businesses to reach their customers directly and individuals to voice opinions on any topic they see fit.

Yet as the opportunity to tweet, message, share and “like” grows, so do the risks. As businesses and individuals navigate this shifting online risk landscape, they face a range of evolving social media related liabilities including privacy, security, intellectual property and employment practices liability.

Meanwhile, amid a rising number of high profile data breaches, government is stepping up its scrutiny of cyber security. This is leading to increased calls for legislation and regulation, placing the burden on companies to demonstrate that the information provided by customers and clients is properly safeguarded online.

Despite the fact that cyber risks and cyber security are widely acknowledged to be a serious threat, a majority of companies today still do not purchase cyber liability insurance. However, research indicates that this is changing. Insurance has a key role to play as companies and individuals look to better manage and reduce their potential financial losses from social media and cyber risks in future.

Please click on the file name below to view the white paper in PDF format. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to biew the file.

Download Social Media, Liability and Insurance (PDF)

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Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

We’ve all read the stories of people who’ve lost money, had prescriptions filled under their names, and even been mistakenly arrested as a result of identity theft. Between 2008 and 2009, approximately 11 million Americans have been victims to this seemingly new phenomenon.

But identity theft has been around since the first time a person attempted to pretend to be someone else for dishonest reasons. Now, though, identity theft is defined as what happens when any party secures goods, services, or financial benefits using someone else’s confidential information–without that person’s permission.

The most common way confidential details are accessed is via your social security number. It’s the most common gateway to accessing your bank account details, mortgage information, investments, loans, credit history, driver’s records, military records, and more. Since most businesses have very few safeguards in place to prevent fraudulent transactions–and may leave them out because of the fear of being seen as discriminatory or too difficult to deal with–this means protecting your identity is up to  you.


Recommended ways to keep your confidential information safe:

  • Keep home records in a locked file.
  • Keep account numbers in a safe place.
  • Ensure the security of any online transaction. Look for badges like the VeriSign Trust Seal, which indicate the security of ecommerce provided by that company.
  • If you’re interested in buying from a relatively unknown company you’ve never dealt with before, check carefully for reviews or scams associated with the business before buying.
  • When asked for your social security number, don’t hesitate to ask why it’s needed.
  • Use a paper shredder to dispose of records like old bank and investment statements, social security, and more. Most of these hard copies carry details used to access your account.
  • If a carbon set is used to make copies of your transaction, keep the carbon or make sure it’s destroyed before you leave.
  • Have yourself removed from the mail list of companies that send unsolicited charge cards.
  • Check for any unusual bank or business transactions, and if you find any, be sure to track down the reason for the irregularity immediately.
  • Ask whether a store uses a wireless network to transmit transaction details, and what safeguards are in place.
  • Don’t leave mail in your mailbox, and don’t leave outgoing mail in your mailbox.


What does identity theft have to do with insurance?

Insurance cannot prevent identity theft, but most insurers offer coverage for paying the costs involved in clearing it up and cleansing accounts and records–which can require months of work and thousands of dollars in legal fees. This kind of coverage isn’t usually included in your home or auto policy, but is offered by most insurers.

When you’ve taken the right steps to prevent identity theft, you can go about your business transactions with peace of mind and a sense of empowerment.