Social engineering is the single most dangerous tactic used against individuals and businesses. It has recently seen a surge in targeting insurance agents. Insurance fraud is a known problem. Insurance agents are always on the lookout for someone seeking to manipulate the system. However, social engineering specializes in manipulating the target instead.
Insurance agents must understand what social engineering is and how to protect themselves. Otherwise, they risk becoming part of an insurance fraud scam or an attempt to infect and compromise their entire insurance agency.
Understanding Social Engineering in Insurance
Social engineering occurs when a malicious actor (not always qualified as a hacker) sends a false message meant to trick an employee or member of an organization into taking an action that negatively affects the company's cybersecurity. It is an extremely broad category of breach that is very effective. Essentially, the hacker seeks to route around technical defenses and instead trick employees into revealing sensitive data or clicking an infected link through social manipulation.
In addition, social engineering is used in insurance fraud in many ways. It often poses as a customer, using false credentials, and becoming pushy or urgent about the insurance agent making changes that turn out to be harmful in some way.
Importance of Cybersecurity for Insurance Agents
Good cybersecurity and readiness to protect oneself are essential for insurance agents. Insurance agents have the power to direct significant cash flow on behalf of the company and customers. They are often targeted for very specific insurance-related scams. While typical social engineering leads to clicking an infected link, insurance agents are at increased risk of harmful manipulation or hackers compromising their access credentials seeking that level of financial control.
Insurance agents who are subject to a breach through social engineering can lose credibility, jobs, and even their identities without robust cybersecurity measures to protect themselves and their employers from harm.
Relationship Between Social Engineering and Security
Social engineering seeks to exploit human vulnerabilities instead of fighting against already-robust technical cybersecurity services. Many people need advanced training to learn how to identify its attempts. They can be aided by tools that recognize bad-actor sources and unusual communication markers - like using a VPN or credentials that don't match the given client's name.
If social engineering succeeds, not only can the agent be harmed, but impersonated clients may also experience loss as a result of socially engineered insurance fraud.
Common Social Engineering Tactics in Insurance
- Phishing and Spear Phishing Attacks
Phishing is when an attacker targets you through a believable channel and engages in a fake interaction to achieve their goal.
Spear phishing is when the hacker studies you first, often through social media
- Pretexting and Impersonation
The attacker creates a pretext - a fake scenario - where they impersonate someone you know and ask for personal information that is then used for identity theft.
In an insurance context, they may try to impersonate a client.
- Baiting and Tailgating
Baiting is when the hacker uses a tactic that is unclear and makes the target curious, so they engage in the interaction
Tailgating is when an unauthorized person follows an authorized person into a restricted area.
- Manipulation of Insurance Claim Information
Manipulation of a claim in a social engineering context is when the fraudster uses pressure and trickery to try and socially push an insurance agent to accept manipulated claim information or impersonation.
Detecting and Preventing Social Engineering Attacks in Insurance
There are several ways that insurance agents can protect themselves and their businesses from social engineering.
- Educating Insurance Agents and Employees about Social Engineering
Learn the most common tactics and avenues of attack to catch them when they appear.
- Implementing Strong Authentication and Authorization Practices
Ensure every login and account access is verified through multiple channels
- Verifying Claim Information from Multiple Sources
Use multiple verification methods to ensure that the client and claim are valid
- Establishing Incident Response Plans for Social Engineering Incidents
Have a process for reporting and preventing future attacks.
Social engineering is a critical threat to the insurance industry and each insurance agent individually. By learning the threats and how to defend yourself, you can increase the security of your business. You can protect your clients better and void disastrous events of fraud or identity theft.
Contact us today to strengthen your insurance agent cybersecurity defenses.