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For $50 a year, you can be protected from cyber crime

Cyber crime has been on the rise over the last few years and it can happen to anyone — no matter how computer-savvy you may be, it only takes one wrong click. To protect everyone, a new type of insurance is becoming more popular.

Matthew Rapparlie, a Senior Commercial Insurance Advisor for Valley First, a division of First West Credit Union, recently did an interview with Tanya Cronin on CFJC Midday about cyber insurance and provided some prevention tips and advice that everyone can use to stay safe.

Stay vigilant

Because we’re all becoming more connected with technology, there has also been an increase in how much information we store digitally — whether that’s through emails or other services. Cyber insurance is a great back up plan, but there are also steps we can take to avoid cyber crime in the first place.

“You don’t want to have to use your insurance policy, but there are a lot of ways you can try to prevent these things,” said Rapparlie. “Usually, if something is too good to be true, it probably is.”

Before clicking on a link or anything in your email, be sure to check where you are being directed and who they are from. First, hover over top of it and see where the link will take you. If it seems suspicious, contact that person through other means and ask if it’s correct. The same goes with odd emails from people you know — if someone you know is asking a strange request like to send them money, give them a call to clarify what’s going on.

Create strong password habits

One good habit to get into is to have a variety of different passwords that you use. That way, if one is compromised it doesn’t affect everything. Because we have so many different, password-protected services nowadays, it can be difficult to keep track of them all. If you have an extremely secure location, such as a safe, you can write your passwords down and keep them locked away just in case.

But before you go ahead and create a bunch of different passwords, try and make them somewhat complex — add numbers, capitalization and symbols to reduce the chance of it being guessed. Don’t use obvious numbers such as your birthday or other significant dates, be creative!

On top of this, it’s always a good idea to change your passwords over time. Many programs that you install will have a default password assigned to your account — before using the program, change this to a password of your own right away. If you own a business, it’s important to keep your personal information and passwords completely separate. If one is compromised, the other won’t be. This protects your business and yourself in the case of an emergency.

Install antivirus, antimalware and firewall programs

An antivirus is designed to protect against viruses — code that typically corrupts or destroys data. Antimalware protects against software that disrupts, destroys or allows unauthorized access — one type is the trojan horse where the user gains complete control over your computer or device. Finally, firewalls block unauthorized access to your computer through your network.

“Ask questions and pay attention. Everyone is vulnerable and you have to stay on top of it,” advised Rapparlie. “Having an antivirus is not sufficient, it won’t catch everything for you so you have to use your own wherewithal and prevention tips as well.”

All three serve their own purpose and are imperative for keeping your information as well-protected as possible. These will give you plenty of defence, but don’t let that give you a false sense of security. Malicious code can still get around these programs if you’re not careful. Triple check what you’re about to click on and always be vigilant about who is contacting you and why.

Consider getting cyber insurance

During a digital emergency, cyber insurance provides coverage for when you’re trying to recover from a malicious attack.

“Cyber insurance was originally something that was in place for businesses because they had so much personal information and so many transactions were done online, there’s a lot of exposure there for them,” said Rapparlie. “Insurance companies started to realize that your average person also has a lot of exposure with respect to what they’re now keeping on their computers."

“Cyber insurance is by comparison really cheap,” added Rapparlie. “It’s only about $50 a year for most insurance companies. If you talk to your advisor, they can tell you what your options are and help with the process.”

The experts at Valley First, a division of First West Credit Union, understand the ins and outs of cyber insurance and can provide further protection for everyone. For more information or any inquiries about cyber insurance, head to their website.

Valley First is a division of First West Credit Union with locations spanning the Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson Valleys. Valley First offers banking, borrowing, insurance and investment services, as well as sound financial advice.

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