According to a recent McAfee survey, 97% of organizations use some type of cloud service — and for good reason. By using an online backup and storage solution, you can reduce your company's reliance on paper, free up your own computer power, and ensure more secure data storage and accessibility.
At its most basic, "the cloud" simply refers to online data centers and other on-demand computer system resources that can be used as an extension of your own network. Insurers typically use the cloud to backup, store, share, and process data.
Most cloud services adhere to strong security standards. However, in the business-to-cloud relationship, both sides of the connection are equally important. In addition to air-tight cloud security, you must maintain strict network defenses of your own.
The following basic data safety tips will help you navigate the cloud experience more securely.
1. Limit external access to data. One of the cloud's main advantages - anytime, anyplace accessibility - also presents a potential risk factor. Be selective in who has permission to access sensitive data, and set policies to account for how, when, where, and on what device and network these permitted users can connect. Also, disable login credentials when an employee leaves the company or is terminated.
2. Monitor user activity. Many cloud services keep track of user activity - who accessed a data file, the time they accessed it, and any changes made. Reviewing these logs can be helpful in identifying any attempt to erase, share, or alter data. Let your staff know that their activity is being tracked. For both practical and ethical reasons, limit your monitoring to that which is necessary to protect the network, or in cases of suspected policy abuse.
3. Avoid unnecessary data duplication. Does your CRM system store policyholder Social Security numbers? Do you keep credit card numbers on your internal network? Different types of information have distinct privacy needs, and the storage locations should be decided accordingly. For example, your payment provider securely processes and stores payment card data, so you can (and should) keep it off your network entirely.
4. Encrypt sensitive files. Between agents, underwriters, claims adjusters, medical providers, and attorneys, insurance companies share a lot of sensitive information, both internally and externally. When transferring files, use data encryption tools to ensure maximum privacy and security.
5. Enforce network security best practices in-house. No matter how secure your cloud service, any vulnerabilities in your own network can expose your data to breach. Remember, securing your network is not a one-time activity. It's an ongoing process that requires regular evaluation, frequent updates, and consistent employee participation.
Cloud services are more secure today than ever before. However, your internal policies and processes are just as important for protecting your data. Between choosing a secure provider and safeguarding your own network and data handling practices, you can enjoy all the advantages of the cloud, while minimizing the risk.
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Patricia is passionate about helping insurers continue to achieve success in a rapidly changing industry. She offers news, insights, and tips to help you modernize your organization, boost efficiency, and provide a superior customer experience for today’s policyholders.