July 30, 2015
When most jewelry companies think about theft, protecting inventory is probably the first thing that comes to mind. Unfortunately, that isn’t the only thing that can harm a business if stolen. Data theft, fraud and malicious computer viruses can have an even greater financial impact on your bottom line. 

Protecting Personally Identifiable Information

If you’re storing records electronically, taking payment via credit card or paying employees, you’re working with personally identifiable information. Personally identifiable information includes details beyond already public knowledge, such as social security numbers, account numbers and even Driver’s License Numbers. 

When that information is breached, it can be big news and cause serious damage to your reputation and your bottom line. So how can you keep something you can’t really see or touch safe? Start with these tips from the jewelry security experts at Jewelers Mutual, Jewelers America’s insurance partner.

Limit what’s portable. One lost laptop can unveil a plethora of personal data, from employee information to customers’ credit card numbers. Set a password on your computer, and store your records on an encrypted hard drive. 

Keep your software up to date. Hackers focus on weak spots in software. When the companies who make software uncover the weaknesses, they release software updates known as patches, to fix them. Keeping your software updated can reduce your vulnerability. 

Beware of software and drives. A flash drive or file sharing music software and access to the files is all it takes for an employee to create a data breach. Whether the actions were intentional or accidental, the information trusted to your business could already be in criminals’ hands. 

Shred your files. As with most types of traditional crime, jewelers are at special risk for data breach. Hire a reputable secure shredding and disposal service to protect any printed copies of information which you work with on a daily basis. 

Speak with IT. E-commerce provides opportunity for your business, but it also increases your risk of data breach and cyber related security issues. Be sure that your IT department or e-commerce providers have sound security protocols in place. Ask them to create data breach emergency response plans if they don’t already have one in place, and stress your concern about protecting personally identifiable information. 

Make sure you’re covered. If a data breach occurs, it’s not something you can keep quiet. State and federal laws may require you to notify customers – and a simple “I’m sorry” letter might not be enough. Ensure you’re prepared for the public relations headaches and credit monitoring that could be involved with a data breach by exploring  Data Breach and Cyber Related Protection coverage options from Jewelers Mutual. 

Cyber Attacks

Ransomware, like CryptoLocker and CryptoWall, are viruses that attach themselves to a very harmless looking email from a legitimate company. Once opened or otherwise activated, the virus infects all of the computer’s files with strong encryption that requires a “secret code” to have the encryption removed. 

Then, a ransom note appears on your screen, typically demanding between $300 - $500, with no guarantee that the hackers will actually provide the promised unlock code in return. Even if they do, there’s no guarantee the code will actually unlock your files. According to PC World, more than a million computers have been affected by CryptoLocker and CrytoWall since September 2013.

Security Tips to Protect Data from Malicious Computer Viruses

  • Use security software: Install antivirus and firewall security software. Although no software solution is completely fail-safe, you could greatly improve your ability to protect your files.
  • Employ safe browsing practices: Never run programs or download files from websites or sources you don’t trust.
  • Make regular backups of your PC: Backing up your files regularly is the only way to ensure that you’ll recover your files in the event of a data catastrophe.
  • Keep your software up to date: This includes your browser and any plug-ins (Flash, Adobe, Java, etc). These utilities often update their code to address new security threats that have surfaced.

If You Open a Computer Virus

If your computer systems do get infected, your first step is to remove the infection itself. A quick Google search will direct you to resources for this.

After removing the infection, you need to un-encrypt your files. PC World and other sources recommend a website jointly hosted by FireEye and Fox-IT to obtain the private key needed to unlock your files. If you have been using a cloud-based file backup service, you may restore files that had been backed up at a date and time prior to your having contracted the CryptoLocker, CryptoWall, or a similar ransomware virus.

Data Breach & Cyber Attack Related Coverage

Learn more about protecting yourself against ransomware and other risks to your business on the Safety and Security page at Jewelersmutual.com. To find an experienced Jewelers Mutual agent in your area, call 800-558-6411 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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