587-597-5478 heather@thinkinsure.ca
Cyber Crime – How To Protect Yourself?

Cyber Crime – How To Protect Yourself?

Hi again, it’s Heather Cournoyer – your commercial insurance advisor. Last week I shared some information about some of threats posed from cyber criminals.  You now have a basic understanding of some of the method’s cyber criminals use.  This week we’ll talk about some of the best practices and how you can protect yourself.

Remember many of the breaches and hacks are caused by simple human error.   I’ll share some tips on what to look for so you aren’t victimized.

Let me remind you that I am not a techie.  I’m a business owner just like you and feel that it’s important to me to understand the risk and prepare.  It’s like putting a fire wall in a building to prevent spread of a fire or ice-melt on your sidewalks to prevent slip and falls.  Cyber risk is huge and very costly and I want to be prepared.  Hopefully this information will be helpful to you and please check with your tech guru for their expertise.

I preface this blog with a reminder that protecting yourself, your data and data of others, is not just a nice thing to do.  There are laws in place that impose strict rules and responsibilities under Provincial and Federal laws.  The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) (PIPEDA) and Canada’s anti-spam legislation (Anti-Spam) are two pieces of legislation.

Here are some suggestions as to how you might protect yourself.

1. Know what’s happening. If you read my first blog, you are already aware of the some of the threats posed by cyber-criminals.  Good for you!

2. Change your passwords. I know!  That’s such a pain.  It’s much easier to use one password for all your sites.  The danger in that is that if your passwords are duplicated and not changed regularly, a hacker has much easier access to all of your sites.  There are a number of software programs available to assist you.  Personally, I use Norton’s Password protector.

3. Secure your home office. Have you changed your router password since it was installed?   Do you have antivirus software and automatic back-up tools?

4. SPAM. You’ve all seen those emails that look like they are coming from someone you know.  So, you click on it or worse yet open an attachment.  Bang – you’ve just downloaded malware onto your system. Check email headers and sender’s addresses and only open attachments of verified trusted senders and those that you are expecting to receive.

5. VPN. With so many business owners and employees working from home, it makes it much more accessible to cyber-criminals.  A Virtual Private Network on your home computer can mask your internet protocol (IP) address so that your online activity is virtually untraceable.  It establishes secure and encrypted connections.  Again, shop around to get good speed and reliability.

6. Public WIFI. Be careful! As I said early, I am not a techie so here’s a link to Norton’s Do’s & Don’ts of using public WIFI

These are just a few tips that many of you may know about.  If not, I hope it’s been helpful.  Remember to call on the tech experts.  I would also suggest that perhaps an Information Technology Audit might be appropriate to make sure you are safeguarding your assets, maintaining data integrity and operating effectively.

In our next blog, I will talk about the next level of cyber protection – yes Insurance!   As technology and society changes, the insurance world must adapt. There are now many insurers who have products available.  We will talk about some of the features to look for.

Thanks again for following me and reading my blogs.  As I said, my goal is to provide business owners with information to help them protect their business with a combination of risk management and insurance.

Remember – “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give”

Take care, stay safe and be well.

Cyber Crime – What is it?

Cyber Crime – What is it?

Breaches, DDo’s, Phishing, Whaling, Malware, Porting, Trikbots, Ransomware and Zoombombing.  What do these words have in common?

Yes! These are all Cyber Crimes and every business owner who owns a computer and uses email or has a website is a target.

And nowadays we are all more exposed than ever.  The majority of business owners and employees are working from home now.  You can bet that cyber criminals are also stepping up their game as security working from home is usually not as effective.

The FBI recently announced that cyber crime has quadrupled compared to the months before the COVID 19 pandemic.


Examples of Cyber Risks

  • Employee Error – losing a USB key, failing to secure passwords. If you do hard drive back-ups and the back-up is lost or stolen that’s a huge potential privacy breach that could cost thousands of dollars.
  • Malicious Hackers – These hackers attempt to shut companies down – steal data or money. Hackers have become an enterprise with HR, Research & Development and customer service departments
  • Ransomware/Extortion – This is a hack where data is stolen or made inaccessible and a demand is made, usually for cash (bitcoin). Any business depending on their online presence to sell their products is at risk.
  • Breach – any time sensitive, protected or confidential data has potentially been viewed, stolen or used by an individual or entity without authorization.
  • DDos – Distributed Denial of Service. An attack that attempts to render an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources.
  • Malware – Code with malicious intent that typically steals data or destroys something on the computer. Installed malware on a corporations’ computer can work silently in the background and corrupt months or years worth of data.
  • Phishing – an attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.
  • Threat Agent – An individual or group that can manifest a threat. This may not even be intentional.  It could simply involve an inept computer operator who trashes a batch job by typing the wrong command.
  • Whaling – An attack that typically involves a hacker masquerading as a senior executive asking an employee to transfer money.
  • Porting – (SIM porting) someone impersonating someone requests a mobile provider “port” or move his number to a new SIM card on a different device. Criminals steal personal information via mobile phones in order to gain access to bank accounts, apply for credit in your good name, or impersonate you to defraud your entire contact list.

The list goes on and changes as new threats are created and discovered.  It’s a moving target.

If you are interested in learning more, you can peruse some of these articles that I have include for you at the end of this blog.

Stay tuned for the next blog where I will share some tips from the experts on some of the ways you can protect yourself.

Thanks for following my videos and blogs. For me, it’s not just about protecting consumers by providing them with insurance options.  Its more about education and communication that helps to identify, analyze, evaluate, and treat risk – be it an insurance product or other method of avoiding, reducing, sharing, or retaining the risk.

Remember – “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give”

Take care, stay safe and be well.


In the News

April 1, 2020 Cyber-Attacks up 37% Over the Past Month as Covid 19 Bites


Oct 10/19 Cybersecurity breach at TransUnion – 37,000 Canadians compromised.  Occurred in June/July – not discovered until August


Oct 8/19 Survey showed that 88% of organizations participating had suffered one or more breaches in past twelve months due to external cyber attacks.


Oct 3/19- Just a name or birthday can be worth up to $1.50 on the black market. A scanned passport or driver’s license can command up to $35, and a full ID package (name, address, social insurance number, e-mail address and bank account number) can go for up to $100.


Good News

Good News

We are indeed in challenging times and if you spend a lot of time watching the news, it can get quite depressing.

So I decided to see if I could find a silver lining.  Most of you probably know that I am the eternal optimist.  I thought I would share some of my findings. These are from Harvard Medical School.

  • Estimates now suggest that 99% of people infected will recover.
  • The number of new cases are falling where the outbreak began
  • We have the internet. Many of us can work from home.  Kids have access to education.  Facetime is my new best friend.  And you can still have happy hour with your friends.


Here’s some other’s I found

  • Many high-net-worth individuals are making huge donations to help in the fight. Here are just some of them.  Kylie Jenner $1M, Versace 200 Million Pounds, Rihanna $5M
  • In New York 6000 mental health professionals signed up to volunteer for a program to help support the city’s mental health – residents can have a free virtual session
  • Netflix has donated $1M Pounds to the British Film Institute and others to help provide short term relief to the film crews not out of work
  • Kids can still do Phys-ed Programs with Joe Wicks the Body Coach who is streaming 30-minute classes
  • The waters in Venice are cleaner – more swans and fish are being spotted
  • Many Alcohol companies and perfume manufacturers all over North America have switched to making hand sanitizer
  • A local Grocer in Edmonton – Belmont Sobeys launched the Golden Shopping Hour for seniors which has spread countrywide.
  • They have also started a program called Heroes for Hunger and have reached out to principals in the schools to find out who might be needing additional help. They are raising money and providing Sobey’s Gift Cards
  • Scientists are reporting a reduction in CO2 emissions. Hopefully we can learn from this going forward.

Locally I’m seeing increased volunteerism, people are reaching out to help out as much as possible.  I see kids and parents out going to family walks.  We may not be able to interact in person however personal interactions by phone, facetime are increasing.

We will get through this and hopefully will take the lessons we’ve learned, the positive changes we’ve made going forward.

To all of you stay safe, be well and smile.  That in itself has been proven to increase your mood.  Heather Cournoyer – signing off till next time.



These are challenging times for both individuals and business owners.  Many of my business owners have been reaching out for information on how their insurance policy might respond.  Here are answers to the most commonly-asked questions.


Does my Business Interruption coverage provide me for loss of income because of COVID19?

Sadly, the short answer is no.

Business Interruption insurance is designed as an add on to a property insurance policy.  In order for the coverage to be triggered, there has to be a physical loss to the property that is covered in the policy.  The business interruption coverage applies during the period of restoration.  That’s the key word – no damage – no restoration period.

Remember there are common exclusions on a property policy include such events as earthquakes, smog, pollution, nuclear hazard, war, wear and tear, terrorism, intentional illegal acts or loss due to faulty design.


If I am sued as a result of COVID 19, will my General Liability Insurance respond?

As with property insurance, there are exclusions in the Commercial General Liability policy.  For instance, pollution is one of those standard exclusions we can expect that insurers will contend that the virus would fall within that exclusion.    It is possible that certain suits may be initiated however it does fall to the plaintiff to prove negligence.  As always, refer to your policy wording and talk to your broker with specific questions.


What happens if I’m working from home? Do I have insurance protection?

Your personal insurance policy provides you with coverage for liability insurance only.  You may have coverage for a limited amount of property like a computer, product samples etc. under your policy.  Check with your insurance provider and also check with your employer to ensure that the commercial policy will extend to protect you in the event that something might happen arising from your work from home.


I have been forced to shut down my business and my premiums are due.  What can I do?

The insurers recognize that is an unprecedented time and many policyholders will be struggling financially.  Contact your broker to see what specific arrangements might be available for you.


What happens if I have a claim that is covered?

Most insurers already have 24/7 claims reporting.  Underwriters and claims adjusters remain available as before.  If you have a claim contact your broker or insurer directly and every effort is being made to ensure continued service.


If my business is closed, will my buildings, stock and equipment still be insured?

The normal vacancy clause allows for up to 30-days vacancy.  However, the terms vacant and unoccupied may have different meanings.  Please review your policy wording or check with your broker to see if you need an extension of coverage.

Having problem with your claim or a dispute with your insurer?  Help is on the way.

Having problem with your claim or a dispute with your insurer? Help is on the way.

In my last blog, we provided some great claims tips and promised that this time we would give you information on how a policy is set up and some of the things to look for.

A couple of incidents occurred that inspired me to share a bit more about the claims process and what resources are available when you have questions or a dispute with your own insurance company.

Being one of several insurance guru’s in my family, I get calls from family and friends whenever they have a question or issue.  I either explain the situation or point them in the right direction.  Sometimes I even get directly involved and help them solve the problem.

In one incident a perhaps over zealous or junior underwriter at an insurance company made a decision that was in contravention of the Insurance Act of Alberta.   Knowing the channels to use, I was able to help solve the problem for one of my family members.

In the event you have an issue, the first place YOU want to go is your broker.  He or she is the one who acted on your behalf to purchase the product for you.  A good broker will understand the insurance contract and be able to either explain coverage, rationale for a denial and if necessary, intercede on your behalf.

If the matter is one where you cannot agree on the value of your property, repairs or replacement or amount of loss, your insurer must send you a copy of the Dispute Resolutions Process found in Section 519 of the Insurance Act.

More detailed information can be found at this website:


Outside of disputes to value, you can utilize the insurers complaints protocol process.  Just google your insurer’s name and word “complaint” and it’ll usually take you directly to that process which involves management and ultimately your insurer’s ombudsman.   Every insurer has to have one.

In addition to that, there are 4 organizations that you can reach out depending on the situation.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) Established in 1964 is the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, auto, and business insurers.  They have consumer information centres in each regional office staffed with seasoned insurance professionals who can address general insurance questions.   You can phone or email and the contact information will be included in the blog on my website.  www.ibc.ca


Phone:  1-844-2ask-IBC (1-844-227-5422)

“The General Insurance OmbudService is an independent organization, created in 2002, with the sole purpose of helping Canadian consumers resolve disputes or concerns with their home, auto or business insurers.”  https://www.giocanada.org/  After receiving a Final Position Letter from your insurer, they may be able to assist you.  You can access them online at https://www.giocanada.org/complaint-form/ or by phone at (1 877 225-0446)

​​​The office of the Alberta Superintendent of Insurance (SOI) of Alberta Treasury Board and Finance regulates, in part, the insurance business in Alberta under the Insurance Act.  If you feel that an insurer has breached a regulation in the Insurance Act contact them.   Again the information will be in the blog.

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Phone: 780-643-2237Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
Fax: 780-420-0752Email: tbf.insurance@gov.ab.ca

Finally, the Alberta Insurance Council serves to fulfill the mission of protecting Albertans through the licensing and regulation of insurance agents, brokers, and independent adjusters.  If you have a concern or complaint with a broker, agent or independent adjuster contact them.


Having said all of this the majority of claims are handled quickly, efficiently and fairly based on the insurance contract between you and your insurance company.  We all know too well, no one ever says good things about how their claim went.   You only hear when people are unhappy.  Sad but true.  It’s common in every industry.

Hopefully, this information may be helpful to you.

If you have any comments or request for more information on any matter insurance – get in touch – contact information is at heathercournoyer.ca