As Cybercrimes Rise, Iris® Identity & Cyber Protection Keeps an Eye on Personal Devices

If there were any doubts that electronic fraud and theft were on the rise, then look no further than the fact that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has its own Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) that handles just this particular type of crime.

The sad reality is that the FBI’s IC3 just turned 20 years old, meaning hackers and identity thieves have been having a field day against consumers both domestically and abroad for some time.

“Identity theft is always changing,” says Michele Krisanda, Vice President of Product for Generali Global Assistance’s (GGA) Global Identity & Cyber Protection Services division. “Criminals are always increasing and changing their attacks and revising their techniques to take advantage of vulnerable consumers.” What’s more, a GGA study found that consumers are increasingly concerned about cyber threats: GGA saw a 52% increase in consumer concern for ransomware in 2020 compared to 2017, as well as a 52% increase in concern in regard to someone hacking into their internet-connected devices.

That is one of the reasons why GGA is launching their new Personal Cyber Protection Service to complement its Iris® identity protection services. The launch coincides with Cybersecurity Awareness Month, hosted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA). Now in its 17th year, Cybersecurity Awareness Month continues to build momentum and impact, co-led by NCSA and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA).

Ever-Evolving Threats and Attacks
Krisanda says the Iris identity & cyber protection services help keep their partners’ employees and customers safe & secure in four comprehensive steps: protect, detect, alert, and resolve. She says there needs to be constant vigilance over a consumer’s personal identification and data in order to keep the information protected from criminals.

“The threats are evolving, and as one thing gets clamped down, something else emerges,” Krisanda says. “We felt it was very necessary to put together a plan that truly protected a consumer at all the various phases of cybersecurity.”

GGA works with consumers via various brand partners as an embedded or voluntary offering through insurance providers, financial institutions, or as a part of an employer’s benefits package. The hope is that Iris Identity Protection’s new cyber protection services help reduce the risk of identity theft and cybercrimes interrupting consumers’ lives.

With the launch of its new cyber protection services, Krisanda says Iris not only offers 24/7 identity theft resolution assistance, but also 24/7 personal cyber protection advice and guidance, providing customers assistance by answering questions on best practices, reviewing attempts of device compromises, as well as offering suggestions on prevention. Iris’ online dashboard also provides educational articles and tips on security topics such as home networks, email, online browsing, unsecured Wi-Fi hotspot usage, as well as best practices on backup and restoration.

Proprietary Software to Stop Hackers & Thieves
Equally as important, Iris has several software programs consumers can utilize to stop hackers and cyber thieves:

  • RansomStop™ monitors all attempts at encryption activity — protecting emails, photographs, spreadsheets, and other files from being encrypted and held for ransom.

  • DataScrambler® protects from spyware that is attempting to steal confidential information, log your keystrokes, and access your computer’s built-in webcam.

  • PhishBlock® detects malicious websites designed to steal information by using proactive and customized anti-phishing technology.

“We’ve been studying these cyber theft issues for several years, and one of the more common attack methods is when the criminals gain access to someone’s device through the use of spyware,” Krisanda says. “Once it is installed, the fraudsters can steal any personal information that is being typed in that device.”
Krisanda says the attacks have become more sophisticated and consumers are sometimes easily tricked into thinking they are safe by clicking a link which ultimately installs the spyware.

In 2019, the FBI’s IC3 received over 467,000 complaints with reported losses exceeding $3.5 billion. The most prevalent crime types reported were phishing/vishing/smishing/pharming, non-payment/non-delivery, extortion, and personal data breach. The top three crime types with the highest reported losses were business email compromise (BEC), confidence/romance fraud, and spoofing.

The FBI says the problems continue to get worse; in 2015, the number of cases they worked was around 288,000 and reported losses at $1.1 billion. In just four years, the numbers jumped to over 467,000 cases and $3.5 billion in losses.

Protecting Various Devices
Krisanda says that GGA’s brand partners in the insurance industry are concerned about cyber threats potentially impacting their policyholders, especially in terms of cyber theft, which is one of the main reasons why GGA launched their new cyber protection services.

“The more you are seeing homes, automobiles, etc. becoming connected to the Internet, the more this becomes a problem,” she says. “A homeowner’s refrigerator, web cams, etc. have become so advanced, so the cyber threats are just about anywhere you look.”

An important part of the Iris Identity & Cyber Protection service is the ability for data recovery and device clean-up assistance if a cybercrime does occur for a consumer. Part of the Iris package includes:

  • Updates and upgrades of the operating system (OS) patches related to security vulnerabilities in PC, Mac, and mobile devices.

  • Assistance in device restoration to a working state, including OS reinstallation or device reset.

  • Assistance with setup of regular backup to a preferred solution to ensure optimal availability in the event of a loss.

  • Scan and removal of infections such as viruses, malware, adware, etc. where possible.

  • Device tune-up to improve performance and operability.

Restoring and Cleaning Up
“Restoration is certainly one of the more unique services in the market, and it is a key service,” Krisanda says. “We can remotely get into a device and start removing any infection, and then making sure the device is properly configured and firewalls are in place to hopefully prevent it from happening again.”
But more importantly, Krisanda says the Iris Identity Protection service can also run those safety precaution scans before devices become infected to hopefully prevent any spyware or damaging software from being installed.

“Prevention is key, and that is what the Iris platform stresses,” she says. “We educate consumers to change passwords and to make them stronger, but we really want to engage them before anything bad happens in order to reduce the chances of them becoming victims in the first place.”
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