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On Monday, May 6, 2019, the City of Washington, Pennsylvania experienced a malware cyber attack — one that shut down their phone and email system for more than one week. The only exception was their 911 system, which is operated through the county and remained available for city residents.

These types of ransomware attacks can happen to businesses and organizations of all sizes at anytime. This is why businesses need to learn the most effective ways of keeping their (and their customer’s) information safe.

Businesses are specifically targeted every day; however, many fall victim to cyber attacks due to pure convenience. Just having an anti-malware program installed on your computer and refusing to save passwords, credit card numbers and personal information is not enough. No business is completely safe, and no one is immune.

'The need for Cyber security has been increasing exponentially over the past few years due to our connected environment,” said Richard Boyer, president of Exchange Underwriters. “Smart phones, self-driving cars, “connected” houses and appliances, online shopping and banking are exposing us to many more access points for cyber criminals to exploit. While at the same time, we are lagging behind in cyber security.”

So what can businesses now do in the cyber era in order to protect their and their customer’s information? According to Exchange Underwriters, a subsidiary of Community Bank and a full-service independent insurance agency located at 2111 N. Franklin Rd. in Washington, Pa., there are many things.

1. Frequently changing your passwords and not reusing old passwords.

Changing your passwords frequently may seem like a daunting task, but it’s definitely worth it. By using and creating “strong” passwords, your information becomes more difficult to hack into.

Password manager apps, such as Dashlane or 1Password, makes this task easier. These apps automatically generate hard-to-hack passwords, while giving users only a single password to memorize.

2. Credit monitoring.

Using a credit monitoring services or identity protection company, such as LifeLock or Experian, can notify users when a data breach occurs. If a breach were to happen to you, a simple and free step to protecting your assets is to contact all three major credit reporting agencies and request that your credit reports be “frozen.” This way criminals cannot hijack your credit and you can “unfreeze” your account if needed for a large purchase.

“Since the majority of stolen data involves tricking someone, staying aware and vigilant while on line can help greatly,” said Boyer. “People are the weakest link but can be the strongest defense.''

3. Partner with an insurance agency that you can trust.

Exchange Underwriters and Community Bank are helping lead the discussion and education on cyber security through direct customer interaction. The duo has partnered with Fifth Wall — a local company that offers a basic Cyber Risk insurance policy to Community Bank/Exchange Underwriter business customers. This policy requires no application and has a $250,000 limit. The best part? It costs $250 per year.

4. Offer your employees cyber-safe training.

In conjunction with this policy, Fifth Wall also offers employee training. This is vital for businesses because one of the leading causes of security breaches are human error (clicking on phishing email attachments) and social engineering (emails which are made to appear legitimate).

Equipping your employees with the best tools and educating them with the latest best practices on cyber security can help ensure that your business is better protected.

Remember, any business (despite size) which operates a website, conducts transactions online or stores personally identifiable information of its customers, clients and employees, such as birth dates, Social Security Numbers, credit card numbers and bank account information, can benefit from cyber security.

If you or your business are interested in partnering with Exchange Underwriters and/or Community Bank, please visit exchangeunderwriters.com or communitybank.tv

Sponsored content brought to you by Exchange Underwriters.

A Community Bank Company