TXINS September E-News: How Safe is Your Data?, Ask the Agent, Agency Happenings, Texas Trivia Contest, Meet Cindy Robinson, and More!


How Safe is Your Data?

In the past few months, the number of reported online security breaches has increased considerably. Hackers are gaining access to secure information and leaking it to the public or worse, selling this information to for a profit. Are you doing all you can to protect your customers’ private information from becoming public knowledge? How do you best protect your business from cyber threats? How to you recover should your business become a victim to hackers?

Is Your Business at Risk?
If you do business online, communicate with customers or suppliers via email, or even just have computers connected to the internet, you may be exposed to the threat of a cyber attack. Whether it is stolen intellectual property from a manufacturer, or the theft of customer data from a retail giant, a data breach can negatively impact your company’s brand, reputation and customer confidence. It can also be financially devastating. Your business should begin to protect itself by establishing a comprehensive policy on cyber security that is supported by employee training, cyber risk assessment processes, network security and incident response planning.

Building a Business Continuity Plan
When you think “business continuity,” you should think about your data and networks as well as your employees, customers and property. Financial data, intellectual property and data on employees, customers and suppliers  are critical to your business. When you craft your general business continuity plan, take steps to also develop a plan specific to your data and networks.

Four-Step Planning Process for Your Business Continuity Plan

1. Threat Assessment
Conducting a threat assessment can help identify the nature and likelihood of an event. Malware, phishing and misuse of credentials are major vulnerabilities. Other events may involve unintentional actions such as an employee emailing a wrong file, sending it to the wrong person, or misplacing a laptop or other electronic device that contains sensitive information.
 
Your plan should include ways to mitigate the impact of losses caused by these accidental or intentional acts or technological failures. It should also take into account weather-related or natural disasters, including tornadoes, hurricanes, or earthquakes. Power outages and power grid failures also should be considered.
 
2. Business Critical Impact Analysis
Conducting a business impact analysis will help you identify and prioritize the business functions that are most critical to keeping your operations running. This analysis can help ensure your business can be restored quickly. Here are a few reasons:

  • Your data inventory and classification process can help identify the critical data that must be maintained to continue acceptable levels of operation.
  • Having a network inventory can help identify the critical hardware, software and firmware needed to continue to provide goods and/or services.
  • Determining the maximum time frame before an interruption can cause significant impact to your business can help you prioritize the areas that need to be addressed first.

3. Prevention and Mitigation Strategies
Include a comprehensive backup strategy for critical data, hardware, software, and firmware. Other non-critical functions can generally be restored and returned to normal operations over time without interrupting your business.
 
Be sure to specify in your plan who is responsible for creating backups, where the backups are stored, and who has access to the backups. All backups should be stored at a remote location that cannot be impacted by the same event. The area should be secure with restricted access. You also can use third parties to store your backups. When you set up a contract with a third party, specify the level of security required, and the time frame they have to deliver your backups. You should fully document these procedures, and keep them up to date.
 
Key backup considerations should include:

  • Electronic data should be automatically backed up on at least a weekly basis. Consider backing up data more frequently for systems storing critical information.
  • Back up proprietary or in-house built software and applications off-site so they can be readily reloaded into replacement equipment.
  • A protected authoritative copy of your organization’s web content should be maintained in a safe location.

4. Testing, Practice and Continuous Improvement
Routinely test your plan to evaluate its effectiveness. Key employees and third parties should be familiar with the backup and restoration processes. They should periodically conduct sample tests of the system backups to verify that the operating system, applications and data from the backup can be restored.

Data breaches and theft happen almost every day and hackers continue to find ways to attack data, in spite of tools and strategies to tighten data security. Every business should plan for the unexpected, including a data breach that can hurt your brand, customer confidence, reputation and, ultimately, your business. Contact your TXINS agent today and discuss what steps you should take to better safeguard your online data. We offer different data protection policies to help your business recover should a breach occur. Together, we will ensure you are protecting what matters most.
 

We Are Here for You 

Texas Insurance & Financial Services, Inc. is your trusted advocate. As an independent insurance agency, TXINS represents a wide network of A-rated insurance companies, which allows us to find the best insurance policy to fit your needs and budget. We don’t believe in cookie cutter policies and will customize a plan specifically for you. Your overall satisfaction is our top priority. That’s a promise.

TXINS offers complimentary insurance reviews to ensure you are getting the right coverage for yourself, your family, or your business. To schedule your review, contact us today at 800-541-9849 or via email. Together, we will ensure you are protecting what matters most.

Meet the TXINS Team
Cindy Robinson
Cindy Robinson is a very important part of the Crop Department. She is a team player and is a highly valued and much appreciated asset to the TXINS/Traditions Insurance Services team. Cindy is always willing to help a fellow employee and has the knowledge to train her co-workers in every aspect of the Crop Department. Her clients know that she will assist them with whatever they may need whenever they may need it. We are blessed by Cindy’s helpful attitude and her ability to share her knowledge with others in her agency.

To learn more about Cindy, please click here.


The employees of TXINS are active members in our communities. Here’s a quick list of what we’ve been up to as well as what we have planned for the month.

  • On Aug. 13, we expanded our reach in the Austin area after purchasing the Carroll-Delaune Insurance Services agency. We are excited to welcome our new clients into the TXINS family and help them protect what matters most.
  • Congrats to our August Texas Pride Trivia Contest winners: Ryan Lerman, Debbie Seib, and Eileen Stoesser. Don’t miss your chance to win a Texas flag…check out the trivia question below!

TXINS Lady Lions Club members Celeste Clark and Lindsey Malek participated in the Lady Lions Ice Cream Social on August 4. Agent Hector Gutierrez stopped by to show his support and grab a sweet treat!

Dear TXINS:
All this talk of data breaches has me very worried. My company hasn’t been breached but I’m not sure what do to if we are hacked. What steps should we take in the case our company data is compromised? – Brenda S., Flower Mound, TX

Dear Brenda:

It is important to develop an incident response plan to help you detect an attack and have procedures in place to minimize or contain the damage. Your plan can begin with being aware of the data security regulations that affect your business and assessing your company data security gaps.

Once you have your plan in place, test it often. Early detection of a breach is a key benefit of an effective incident response plan.

Be Prepared and Plan Ahead

  • Establish a response framework. An effective incident response plan contains a framework for action where key decisions are made ahead of time and do not have to be made under pressure.
  • Publish incident notification procedures. This information should be published for all personnel, including employees and contractors. It can also be part of new hire orientation and routine employee awareness activities.

What to Do if a Breach Occurs

  1. Validate the data breach. Be sure to examine the initial incident information and available logs to confirm that a breach of sensitive data has occurred.
  2. Manage the evidence. Carefully document all investigation and mitigation efforts. Any interviews with key personnel should also be documented. You should seek advice from your legal counsel on the approved methods for protecting digital evidence.
  3. Assemble your incident team, and begin investigating the breach. Your response team should also continue to monitor the status of the breach.
  4. Decide on effective outside help. Any decision to involve outside resources, including law enforcement, should be made by consulting with executive leadership and legal counsel.
  5. Take action to mitigate the impact. Act quickly to reduce the impact as much as possible. You should work to identify and secure all affected data, machines, devices and systems, as well as isolate and preserve the compromised data. Be sure to change encryption keys and passwords immediately to prevent further access. Your network should be cleaned of malicious code, which may take a lot of resources depending on the size of the breach.
  6. Notify data owners. If your customers’ information is exposed, affected individuals should be notified as soon as possible and within the time frame of the federal, stat, and local laws. Your public affairs or media relations staff, in conjunction with executive leadership and legal counsel should word the notification in a straightforward and honest manner.
  7. Conduct “lessons learned” and tests for continuous improvement. Your company should always hold a “lessons learned” meeting after the recovery phase to refine your data security program and breach response strategy.

Most importantly, talk with your insurance agent to make sure you have the right insurance protection in place. Data breaches can be very costly and in extreme cases, can bankrupt a company. Be fully prepared with the right policy. Your TXINS agent will fully explain your policy options and find the right coverage for your needs and budget.

 

Do you have a question for our agents? Email it to us! If we choose your question, we’ll send you a thank you gift! Be sure to include your mailing address and phone number in your email.

You Learn Something New Every Day
– The only U.S. President to have a September birthday was William Taft. Not only was Taft our 27th president from 1909-1913, but he also served as Chief Justice of the United States from 1921-1930.

– Venus is the only planet in the solar system that rotates clockwise. All other planets rotate counter-clockwise.

– The human eye has the ability to identify and differentiate more than 10 million colors. What’s your favorite?

– September 13 is National Peanut Day. A staple of many school lunches, peanut butter and jelly is the most popular sandwich in the country. Learn how to make your own peanut butter here. It’s easier than you may think!

Does Your Student Need Renter’s Insurance if Living in a Dorm?
 
If you have a kiddo heading off the college, your existing homeowners insurance most likely will extend protection for your student’s possessions while he or she is living in a dorm, sorority house, or other on-campus housing. But there are limits. Some policies will only cover dorm possessions up to 10% of what they would normally cover. For instance, if your policy has a $150,000 limit for personal property coverage, your kid’s possessions would likely only be protected up to $15,000.

Take an inventory of everything your child plans to bring to school. This will help you determine how much coverage is needed — include all electronic devices such as computers, laptops, iPads/iPods, printers, cameras, etc.

Talk to your TXINS agent to understand what your homeowners policy covers when your student is away at school. Ask about the dollar limits on your policy and what might be excluded. If you feel additional coverage is needed, consider renter’s insurance or a floater policy.

We LOVE Referrals!

 
Congrats to Monico Balderas of Rosenberg, TX, our August Referral Program drawing winner! Thanks for your referrals Monico! Good luck in our end of the year drawing happening in December!

If you love Texas Insurance & Financial Services, Inc., tell a relative, friend, or co-worker about us. When they call to receive a quote make sure they let us know that you referred them.

As a thank you, you’ll receive a surprise gift and will be entered into our monthly $50 gift card drawing and our annual Grand Prize drawing for a $1,500 gift card!!!

(Grand Prize drawing will be held on December 3, 2015.)

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