Making the Most of National Cyber Security Day

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Nowhere does this Benjamin Franklin truism prove itself more than cyber security. Every November 30th, businesses around the world are encouraged to celebrate Cyber Security Day by reviewing their cyber security plans and training employees to be more aware of potential online threats. Another key part to any cyber strategy is cyber liability insurance.

Here are some simple tips to help businesses make the most of National Cyber Security Day.

Do not connect to unsecured Wi-Fi networks

We find this tip is one of the hardest for businesses and employees to follow. Free Wi-Fi is just too convenient. Whether it's at the airport or a coffee shop, these networks are dangerously tempting for getting some quick work done. However, unsecured Wi-Fi networks—those that have no password or easily obtained passwords—are primed for hacking. Even something as simple as checking work e-mail from these networks can allow cyber criminals access to sensitive information. If you must have Wi-Fi on the go, we recommend using your smartphone as a hot spot with a backup battery charger.

Take advantage of automatic security updates

Keeping your computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones secure is vital to any cyber security strategy. All devices must be protected in two ways. One is with updated operating software, and the second is with antivirus software. This means you need two types of automatic updates, e.g., Windows updates and McAfee antivirus updates. With workplace devices, the easiest way to stay secure is to allow automatic updates between off-work hours, usually overnight. Be sure that employees secure their personal devices if they do any work from them.

Consider switching antivirus software

For most consumers, the prepackaged antivirus that came with our computer is the one we tend to keep. However, businesses may need protection above the average consumer's needs. Lesser-known antivirus names like Avast, Bit Defender, TrendMicro, Avira, or Sophos may be a better fit for your business. You can also consider upgrading your standard software to a small business plan, such as Norton's.

Choosing Cyber Liability Insurance

Even the best-laid plans can be foiled by cyber criminals. Their full-time job is breaking into your system, and they are constantly changing their tactics and strategies. Even giants like Target, Home Depot, Equifax, Uber, and other corporations with sizable IT budgets can fall victim. What has saved these companies from going under is their cyber liability insurance. These policies can help keep afloat businesses big and small by paying for data recovery, consumer notification, lawyers' fees, government fines, and other associated costs. This Cyber Security Day is a great time to work with an experienced agent to find the right cyber liability policy.

Cyber Risks in the Healthcare Industry

2016 was a record-breaking year for cyber criminals, with Bloomberg reporting a 40% increase in attacks over the previous year. That year also brought a bigger target on the back of the healthcare industry with over 16 million patient records stolen in the U.S. alone. As we approach the end of 2017 we must recognize these attacks prompt a need for a complete modernization of the industry's cyber security protocols, including a thorough review of their cyber liability insurance policies.

The healthcare industry is the second largest victim of cyber attacks, second only to the lucrative financial industry. The WannaCry breach was 2017's biggest plunder. The U.K.'s National Health Service (NHS) was hit hardest by this ransomware, but U.S. hospitals did not get away scot-free, and even pharmaceutical giant Merck fell victim. This widespread healthcare industry attack is thought to have been perpetrated with malicious e-mail attachments innocently downloaded by hospital administrators and doctors.

The level of risk for the healthcare industry is not only dangerously elevated but its consequences are particularly frightening. Rather than simply gaining access to credit card information or other financial data, many attacks in this sector are planned purely for chaos, whether by amateurs or by foreign enemies. Some criminals may hack into medical devices, like robotic surgery tools, pacemakers, and insulin pumps. Others may encrypt patient information in order to demand a ransom.

But there is another key reason criminals target the medical industry for cyber attacks. The medical field is notoriously slow to upgrade its IT strategies, often having cyber security policies a decade or more out of date. With the rise of electronic patient records, the out-of-date security is egregiously negligent. Many blame the lack of funding in public systems or the bureaucratic approach to cost-cutting, but whatever the cause, the industry needs awareness and practical solutions immediately.

One of the best and most affordable solutions for today's healthcare environment is a well-chosen cyber liability insurance policy. While prevention through a comprehensive cyber security strategy is necessary, it is still fallible, That makes having a cyber liability policy a must. Even the best-funded IT security can be breached, but having cyber liability insurance in place can help keep hospitals, doctors offices, and other vendors from facing bankruptcy following an attack. With the threat against healthcare services expected to continue climbing, there is no excuse to wait.


What Real Estate Agents Need to Know about Drone Marketing

In an industry as competitive as real estate, agents are always looking to keep one step ahead. In today's market, that means high-quality aerial photos, like those obtained from drones. While the marketing effect of drone photography is undeniable, there are several things real estate agents must consider before investing in this hot, new technology, including the need for adequate liability insurance.

Buying vs. Hiring

Real estate agents have two options when it comes to drone photography: doing it themselves or hiring a vendor.

In 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) lowered the regulatory standards for flying drones to allow more drone operators to enter the market, but this does not necessarily mean drones are easy to operate safely. Additionally, purchasing a drone with an adequately high-quality camera for real estate showcasing can also cost upwards of $1000. Crash that drone once, and you might lose that investment entirely.

For these reasons, working with a vendor is still a popular choice. When going with a professional photographer or drone operator, agents can pay as little as $100 to get aerial shots of each property. Still, agents with more than 5 to 10 listings per year might want to consider learning how to operate a drone camera on their own.

Obtaining a License

If you choose to purchase and operate your own drone, you must be licensed. The FAA no longer requires a pilot's license to operate a drone; however, commercial drone operators (those doing so for a profit and not for hobby) must still obtain a remote pilot certificate, often referred to as the “Part 107 certificate” or “drone license.” This requires operators to pay $150 and pass a written test. The FAA offers an online course that teaches test subjects like safety, weather, emergency procedures, and other relevant issues.

Getting Insurance Coverage

While drones are an exciting—and even fun!—advancement for the real estate industry, these futuristic flying machines should not be taken lightly. Drones can and have caused damage and personal injury. Regardless of whether real estate agents choose to use a drone themselves or hire someone else, they must make sure they have the correct insurance policies in place in the event the drone crashes. There have also been cases where neighbors sue the real estate agent claiming a violation of privacy when they appeared in the background of the aerial photograph.

Conventional Commercial General Liability insurance may not cover drones. A qualified and experienced insurance agent may need to work with the insurance company to ensure the policy will cover drone accidents. It is also possible to get individual insurance for “unmanned aircraft” that will cover the real estate agent's business even if a vendor is hired. An Errors & Omissions policy as well as a Personal Injury Liability policy may also be able to offer the right coverage.

Highland Risk Services Announces Cynthia Richey, Executive Vice President, retires as of August 2015

Highland Risk Services Announces Cynthia Richey, Executive Vice President, retires as of August 2015

After 7 years of amazing service, Cynthia Richey has retired from Highland Risk Services. Cynthia has been with us since 2008, and her industry experience and hard work were an instrumental part in Highland Risk Services’ growth into the company you now know. We will continue to meet and exceed Cynthia’s exceptional quality of work, and we promise to take care of the relationships she has worked so hard to foster for Highland.

Cynthia’s other passions included work for her church. She was instrumental in starting the Recreational Outreach Center specifically servicing at-risk youth striving towards higher education. She has decided to pursue this passion full time, and we are happy to know her talents will be greatly appreciated in her new venture.

Cynthia’s name is synonymous with success, and we ask that everyone thank Cynthia for her support and dedication over the years.

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Real Estate E&O Program Now at Highland Risk Services

Real Estate E&O Program Now at Highland Risk Services

Real Estate firms face a variety of professional liability exposures while operating their business. That is why it is important for them to partner with insurance specialists that understand these exposures and can help manage the risk.

Highland Risk’s team can now assist our partner agents to cover a wide array of these exposures while keeping premiums competitive! Contact Stefanie by phone at 847-999-9493 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to get started or information regarding our Real Estate Professional Liability program

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