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April 6, 2005

Internet security a worry for insurance agents, says Ivans

Ivans, a provider of networking and e-commerce software for the insurance and healthcare industries, has published results of a survey highlighting security fears within the insurance market.

By CBR Staff Writer

The survey revealed that internet security tops the list of concerns for independent agents, with 80% worrying about viruses and worms and 42% displaying anxiety about hackers.

Financial losses from viruses were expected to reach a five-year high in 2004, and smaller businesses, like independent agencies, can be more vulnerable because they often have smaller IT staffs, says Clare DeNicola, president of Ivans. With one in 16 e-mails carrying a virus and 70% of security risks stemming from insiders, agencies need to be sure they are protected.

Ivans suggest that agencies arm themselves against security threats by installing and constantly updating anti-virus software, spreading awareness of the latest scams and encouraging employees not to open suspicious e-mails. They should also immediately disable passwords and access for departing employees and deploying anti-spyware utilities. In addition, the company said, agents could set up an internet firewall and utilize strong authentication tools.

The survey also reported an increase in the use of agency management systems, with 100% of respondents stating that they currently use this technology in comparison to the 86% shown in the firm’s November 2003 survey. 76% of this year’s participants said they prefer to retrieve carrier information through their agency management systems, versus 52% in 2003.

DeNicola attributed these statistics to the fact that communications and interface programs available through agency management systems simplify workflows and improve efficiencies for agencies.

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