Long Insurance Services of Kernersville, NC


  Contact : 336-992-5664

All posts by Duane Long

Phishing

Quick Ways to Spot Phishing Messages Targeting Your Business

Gone may be the days when phishing attempts were easy to identify. While malicious messages are nothing new, they’re becoming more sophisticated and harder to pick out from legitimate business communications.

A few simple clicks in one of these emails can develop into a problem that spreads quickly across digital channels and devices, but there are things that you can do to defend against phishing attacks and resources that can help.

Information technology professional Jamie Neumaier knows a lot about tackling security threats. Jamie manages an information security team that works to ensure systems at Erie Insurance stay as safe as possible. He recently answered questions about phishing scams targeting businesses and offered some useful security tips.

What is phishing?
Phishing is malicious activity in which criminals try to gain access to user’s information, data or devices. The goal is to get you to act, and when you do, the phishers may:

  • Gain access to data and information, which they can exploit.
  • Install malware on your system.
  • Prompt you to reveal your personal financial information for purposes of stealing money or your identity.
  • Access your email and send other malicious messages to your contacts, to exploit others.

 

Are businesses especially vulnerable to phishing scams?
Yes. With more work being conducted digitally, businesses of all sizes are susceptible to attacks.

Phishers can easily find your contact information online and be reasonably confident that any message they send you will be at the very least opened because you’re in a business of being responsive. The phishing messages have also grown in sophistication, so it’s easy to be convinced to visit an insecure site or download an infected file that comes in an email message that looks legitimate.

How do you spot a phishing attack?
Phishing emails that are poorly written, offer you large amounts of money or ask you for financial assistance have been common for a long time. Most of us know not to open, click or respond to these emails.

More recently, phishing emails are being designed to look like other emails that you might receive in your inbox. They may appear to be from someone you trust like a bank, software provider, retailer or vendor, but usually, the timing of the messages is unexpected.

For instance, one common technique is for a hacker to gain access to an email account through a phishing attempt, then access the account and reply to a real email conversation with a malicious link. So, when the recipient receives this email, it looks like a continuation of an earlier conversation, but it asks the recipient to download a document.

Phishing attempts aren’t limited to email, either. Hackers now use phone numbers similar to your mobile number to call you and attempt to have you reveal sensitive information. They may send you text messages as well.

How can phishing attacks be prevented?
In the course of day-to-day business between you, your employees, customers and other consumers in general, know what you’re working on. If you receive a message, phone call or email that is unexpected or seems even just a little bit off, verify the validity of the message before taking action. Call the person who appears to have the message and ask if he or she sent it. If the answer is no, it’s a malicious message.

Other things you can do:

  1. Hover your cursor over a link in an email to show the URL. If it looks suspicious, don’t click on it.
  2. Look at the extension on Word attachments. Most users have updated their Microsoft products so that Word documents end with .docx. If you see the antiquated .doc extension, question it.
  3. Use both antivirus software and an anti-malware tool. They’re often provided by common and well-known security brands such as McAfee and Norton.
  4. Keep your software and devices up to date. The latest updates for Microsoft Office products, third-party applications, such as Adobe Reader and Flash, and smartphone operating systems contain patches that protect against the latest security issues.
  5. Always back up your data, so that you can get back to business as quickly as possible should you fall victim to an attack. Test your backup processes periodically to ensure they are working as expected.

 

Also, be aware that if you’re hit with an attack, you may not know immediately, and the first indication may be that your Customers receive an unexpected email from you. Unfortunately, a Customer calling to verify something you sent (but didn’t intend to) could be when you know you’ve been affected.

If Customers call asking if a message is legitimate, and after you confirm whether you sent that email, offer them the same advice you use in your own business operations.

  • Did the Customer expect to get that email?
  • Does the link or URL direct to a legitimate, expected website address?
  • Does it ask them to open a suspicious document that they didn’t expect?

Answering those questions can help you both determine whether the message is safe.

Phishing is continuously changing and evolving as perpetrators adopt new techniques and forms, so it’s essential to have a good security plan in place and watch out for emerging attacks to help protect your business. A well-trained team that knows how to spot a suspicious message can also be a great defense against phishing attacks.

Read more information about security tips:
Are You Overlooking this Top Data Breach Risk?
Two Things You Can Do Now to Speed Up Data Recovery After a Breach

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IIHS-Safety

IIHS Safest 2018 Cars

Thinking about shopping for a new car? Then you’ll want to check out what vehicles are considered the safest to buy.

https://www.erieinsurance.com/blog/iihs-safest-2018-carsFrom small cars and sedans to SUVs and large luxury vehicles, you’ll find 62 of the 2018 models deemed safe by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Each year the safety experts at the nonprofit research and education organization determine which vehicles do the best job of protecting people in the most common kinds of crashes—front, side, rollover and rear—based on ratings in IIHS evaluations. The current list of award winners is smaller than usual because IIHS raised the bar on its test criteria, adding passenger-side crash tests and headlight ratings to their list of considerations.

No minivans, pickups or minicars earned the highest award, Top Safety Pick+, and just 15 vehicles qualified, having good-rated headlights and good or acceptable passenger-side protection in small overlap front crashes. Models from a wider range of vehicle types—47 in all— earned the second-tier award, Top Safety Pick, but no minicars made the cut in that category either.

Hyundai and Subaru lead the way
Leading the pack of manufacturers of the 15 Top Safety Pick+ vehiclesare Hyundai Motor Company, which owns the Hyundai, Kia and Genesis brands and has six awards, and Subaru, which has four. Mercedes-Benz has two, while Toyota, BMW and Ford Motor Company have one each.

Small cars

Kia Forte sedan

Kia Soul

Subaru Impreza (4-door sedan | 4-door wagon)

Subaru WRX

Large luxury cars

BMW 5 series

Genesis G80

Genesis G90

Lincoln Continental

Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan

Midsize cars

Subaru Legacy

Subaru Outback

Toyota Camry

Midsize SUVs

Hyundai Santa Fe

Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

Midsize luxury SUV

Mercedes-Benz GLC

 

The frontrunner among the 47 second-tier award winners is Toyota Motor Corporation with 10 vehicles. Hyundai is the runner-up with nine.

IIHS has awarded Top Safety Pick honors to qualifying vehicles since the 2006 model year. It adjusts the list of winners throughout the year as it evaluates new models. Learn more about the vehicles that are in the winner’s circle by watching the video above or reading the source article at iihs.org.

How to get a quote and avoid car insurance rate hikes
If you’re shopping for a new car, you’ll also need car insurance. You may want to get an auto insurance quote now or check out these helpful resources:

An insurance professional like an Erie Insurance Agent in your community can provide you with more information about auto coverage.

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Strengthen-Business

Strengthen Your Business in 2018

As a business owner, to say you’re busy, is an understatement…your business is your life. From managing employees, to maintaining quality products and services to meeting your Customers’ needs, it’s a lot. We’ve pulled together five tips to keep in mind in 2018. It’s about taking the time to evaluate, prioritize and delegate for the year and beyond.

1. Set realistic goals. The beginning of the year is a perfect time to set your sights on what you would like your business to achieve in the year ahead. While, it’s important to challenge your business, it’s also important to set realistic and attainable goals. “S.M.A.R.T.”  goals stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. There are many free templates and guides online to assist you in getting your business goals on paper. Just search “SMART goals” and you’ll be able to find a tool that is most helpful and applicable for your business.

2. Look for opportunities to delegate. There are only so many hours in a day and so many days in a week. This year, make it a point to delegate work and responsibilities to your employees. Additional communication and direction upfront may be necessary, but it can free up time for other important business priorities in the future. Additionally, employees will appreciate the additional responsibility and trust you’re putting in them.

3. Expand your digital reach. Digital should be included in your marketing strategy. From updating your site and making sure it’s mobile friendly, to connecting with your Customers and followers on social media, it’s important to weave digital engagement into your overall strategy.  If you’re new to social media, specifically, Facebook®, they have marketing tools and a tutorial, Blueprint, to help you get started. The tutorial will take you through the basics of building your social presence.

4. Make connections. We’ve all heard it—network, network, network. From networking with other small business leaders to networking with new clients or Customers, this could be a full-time job in and of itself. Besides learning what others in your community are doing, there’s an opportunity to gain insight from other business leaders and develop relationships with them.

5. Consult your ERIE agent. Whether you’re growing your home business or expanding to a second location, it’s important to make sure you have the right coverage to fit the needs of your business (employees included). Set up some time to talk to your local Erie Insurance Agent soon.

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College-Students

Safety in College

When kids hit college, they’ll reach an entirely new level of independence. With unstructured time and the freedom to make their own day-to-day decisions, they’ll still need support from you. Here are some campus life issues to discuss.

Keep possessions safe. College campuses and especially dormitories bring thousands of young people into one small area. That’s why it’s important to urge your student to keep their door locked whenever they leave the room for any length of time. It only takes seconds for an opportunistic thief to slip and disappear with their laptop or other valuable items. Also, have a talk with your insurance agent. If your college lists your house as their permanent address, your homeowners insurance coverage would most likely extend to your student’s belongings in the dorm. Find out what’s covered and what isn’t.

Don’t leave them uninsured. Once your student lives off-campus at their first apartment, that simple carry-over homeowners coverage may disappear. In that case, a separate renters insurance policy in your student’s name can offer protection, so your student doesn’t have to start from scratch. The good news is that these low-cost policies are often affordable, even for college students living on slender budgets. To learn more, contact an ERIE agent.

Check your auto insurance. Every student’s situation varies, and different situations will have different impacts on auto insurance costs. For example, costs could increase if your student brings their car on campus, especially in an urban setting. Some parents see a discount if their student leaves the car at home. To learn more, get in touch with an ERIE agent.

Have the talk about drinking. Good news: According to WebMD, binge drinking among college students is on a downward trend, and so is driving while impaired. Still, 37 percent of students say they consumed four or more drinks in one sitting, and 17 percent report driving while impaired. Before your student heads to campus, talk about the risks of indulging too much, such as accidents, hypothermia, injuries and impulsive behavior. Along with that, brainstorm strategies so they know what to do to keep themselves and their friends safe.

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JD Power Insurance Survey

ERIE Ranked Highest in J.D. Power Insurance Study

Thousands of people recently shared their experiences about shopping for auto insurance in a new national study and Erie Insurance was awarded “Highest Satisfaction with the Auto Insurers Shopping Experience.”

The J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Insurance Shopping StudySM, now in its 11th year, provides an in-depth look at the entire auto insurance policy selection process. It explores why customers shop, their attitudes toward and perceptions of auto insurance brands and how they make their final purchase decision. Satisfaction is measured on three factors (in order of importance):

  • Price—How customers rate their new auto insurance provider on the price of the policy given the level of coverage.
  • Distribution channel—How customers rate their experience interacting with their new auto provider’s agent, call center rep and website.
  • Policy offerings—How customers rate the variety of coverage options, the degree to which their needs are met and the ease of obtaining a new policy.

For the fifth consecutive year, Erie Insurance ranked the highest in the study, with a score of 879 out of 1,000.

The study methodology and other findings

The study is based on responses from more than 16,400 shoppers who requested an auto insurance quote from at least one of the top 25 insurers that have the largest market share in the United States. Customers were surveyed from April 2016 to January 2017.

The study also revealed that shoppers are increasingly reliant on agent recommendations when considering and quoting insurers, compared to 2015 (with 9- and 10-percentage point increases, respectively). Another critical driver of satisfaction is communication. Companies like ERIE that ranked the highest in the study help:

  • Ensure the customer completely understands the coverage.
  • Provide guidance and/or tools for selecting the right coverage.
  • Make certain customers understand their premium calculations.

Are you shopping for insurance?

When you’re shopping for insurance, J.D. Power offers the following tips:

  • Look for an agent with a reputation for integrity and trustworthiness, who can give you thorough advice on the pluses and minuses of various insurers and their products.
  • Compare the terms of various policies and assess how those policies might be affected by factors such as current events, driver performance and acquisition of new vehicles.
  • Be sure you’re well covered in areas where you most need coveragesuch as personal liability (when you hurt other people or their property).

Who Is Erie Insurance?

ERIE has been protecting families and businesses for more than 90 years. The company’s employees and agents follow the Golden Rule—treat others as you would want to be treated.

“As you can see from this study, our prices, products and service often outshine the competition,” says Doug Smith, executive vice president, sales and products, at Erie Insurance. “When you work with an experienced ERIE agent from your neighborhood, you’ll get coverage that exactly fits your life and never pay more than you should. When something bad happens, we’ll make sure you’re back on your way, right away. We’ve built our reputation for being Above all in Service®.”

In the past year, ERIE has made improvements to the auto insurance quote tool on its website. Shortly after the J.D. Power survey closed in January, ERIE launched a refreshed website. For more information, get in touch with a local ERIE agent.

 

Erie Insurance received the highest numerical score in the J.D. Power 2013–2017 U.S. Insurance Shopping Studies (tied in 2016). The 2017 study is based on 16,424 total responses evaluating 21 providers and measures the experiences and perceptions of customers surveyed between April 2016 and January 2017. Your experiences may vary. Visit jdpower.com for more information.

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Business Car Insurance

Ask ERIE: How Does Business Auto Coverage Work

With business auto insurance, customers often ask us how coverage works in certain situations. A couple examples would be when employees drive company vehicles for personal reasons or when they drive their personal cars for their job.

With most business auto policies, the coverage follows the vehicle. So if the employee has permission to use the business vehicle for personal reasons, coverage will typically be extended.

Using a personal car for work

If you’re a business owner and your employees use their personal cars for work, coverage is not provided automatically for you through a commercial auto policy. You would need to add hired and non-owned coverage to your policy, which would provide liability coverage if you are sued following an accident. The employee’s car insurance would usually cover the physical damage to the vehicle.

“The commercial auto coverage provides protection for your interests as the business owner, but the employee’s auto coverage may still be required to cover the claim,” says Leo Heintz, vice president and product manager, commercial auto insurance, at Erie Insurance.

Other ways business auto insurance can help protect you

For both owned and leased cars and trucks, business auto insurance offers coverage for:

  • Damages if your car is damaged or destroyed by something other than an accident, such as theft, vandalism or hail when you purchase comprehensive coverage.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorists if an at-fault driver is unable to pay for damages associated with your injuries.
  • Liability if you’re responsible for harming others or for damaging their vehicles or property.
  • Medical costs for you or your passengers’ injuries as the result of an auto accident.

It can be helpful to work with an insurance professional like an Erie Insurance agent, who can help you select the best coverage for your business and tell you about policies suited to your specific industry.

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