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The realm of company-provided benefits is expanding as companies elect to offer more comprehensive forms of protection to their employees. Medical, dental, disability and life insurance have long been staples, with vision and healthcare spending plans being added to the mix. Now we may take advantage of pet insurance, wellness benefits and a new addition: digital security benefits.

Digital security benefits seek to protect employees (and their children) from online predators engaging in attempted identity theft or the harvesting of credentials/account information. This can help both the employee and the business since, as describes, identity theft can result in the loss of six months and 100 to 200 hours of work, increased emotional distress levels and a consumer average cost of $1,343 per identity theft incident.

Phil Albinus of Human Resource Executive quoted Kristin Lewis, SVP of Product and Strategy, Employee Benefits at Aura, who said the benefit entails implementing protection services that “monitor for the unauthorized use of employees’ personal identifiable information, such as Social Security numbers, bank account details, passwords, medical information and related information. A digital security solution would alert employees whose information is being used so they can take the appropriate action — whether it’s changing a password, freezing accounts or addressing fraudulent unemployment claims — to ensure their information is safe.”

In fact, Albinus noted, “according to Willis Towers Watson, 78% of employers will offer identity theft protection as an employee benefit by 2022.”

Lewis stated that these digital security services can look for and change compromised passwords and notify financial institutions on behalf of employees to let them know their identity or data may be at risk. Coverage of losses and fees related to malicious activity are also part of the arrangement. She also described the increasing risk of social engineering efforts that attempt to impersonate company personnel in order to persuade would-be victims to click links and enter personal details that can be used to steal their identities.

“There are a few reasons why digital security benefits are growing in popularity. As hybrid and work-from-home office models continue, employers are beginning to realize the importance of protecting employees online no matter where they are or what device they are using. Unauthorized access of employee accounts is the biggest cause of employer breaches — often due to employees using the same passwords on both private and work accounts,” Lewis said.

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Other causes of breaches Lewis described include accessing unsecure Wi-Fi, letting family members use devices that are also used for work purposes and downloading software or clicking on links from unknown senders, which then open your employer up to risk.

With online presence being such a driving force in consumer and business activities, Lewis emphasized the importance of feeling secure while online and knowing that finances, identity and devices are being monitored and safeguarded, adding that the selection of benefits companies provide are a significant factor employees rely on when choosing whether to take a position. Therefore, providing a diverse array of useful benefits can help employers attract the best pool of talent. 

Lewis offered the following tips on introducing a digital security benefits program:

  • When employers or employees are looking for security benefits, it’s important to choose a vendor that can provide a wide variety of protection so the employee doesn’t need to engage with and monitor multiple solutions or apps. 
  • Consider opening up enrollment at different points of the year timed to moments when online risk is a bit higher: Holiday travel/shopping, tax season, summer vacation and back to school are all times when cybercrime flares up.
  • Consider offering services like digital security as employer paid. While this does come with some cost to the organization, employees will be more engaged with cybersecurity safety, and protection can be extended beyond the enterprise. According to Willis Towers Watson, employers believe paying for coverage will provide employees with peace of mind in the short term, as well as provide professional resolution if an incident occurs.
  • Ensure continuous security education throughout the year with email, Slack or other preferred methods of communication to ensure that employees are being safe online — with a security benefit or not. This helps promote a safe online culture and ensures employees are thinking proactively about keeping themselves, their families and the business safe from cybercrime. When enrollment season comes around, they’re more likely to understand the value of having a security solution.
  • Extend security benefits beyond just the actual security technology benefit. Push security updates to the workforce when there are major breaches that may impact employees and make sure you have a dedicated resource (via the IT helpdesk or CISO organization) to handle and security incidents with your employees.