Could Amazon and Google harvest insurance brokers’ data?

We’ve often highlighted how cybercriminals are the biggest threat to brokers’ precious data. But what if the threat to your data came from another source? One that we’re familiar with and use every day in our business and personal lives – like Amazon and Google.

It’s no secret that major tech companies stalk their customers. They do this through storing and studying our data. We’re not suggesting this is illegal. They do it because we give them permission to (think about all those terms and conditions you glossed over because you couldn’t be bothered to read all ‘10,000 words’ and just hit ‘OK’ or ‘Allow’).

Every time we make a purchase or use a search engine, we reveal more information about ourselves. There are many other ways that these companies gain access to our private lives – just think about all those questions and requests you make through your Echo device and what you read on your Kindle. There are even claims that your Ring Doorbell app sends data to third parties. 

If you really want to scare yourself with how much Amazon knows about you a simple data subject access request will blow your mind.

Why should this matter to the insurance industry?

People often joke how their lives aren’t actually that interesting and that they couldn’t care less if companies spy on them and track their purchasing habits. That is until it affects them in some way.

Brokers can’t afford to turn a blind eye to being spied on by the likes of Amazon and Google, especially if the reports of them entering the insurance market are true. Earlier this month, SchemeServe wrote how Amazon, Google and also Facebook are reportedly thinking about offering car insurance to the masses.

Back in 2018, data analytics and consultancy company GlobalData warned the UK insurance market was vulnerable to the entrance of ‘alternative providers’ like Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon (GAFA). It further added that around 30% of consumers would purchase some form of insurance product from certain providers.

It’s possible that GAFA could attract such a large portion of the market, especially if they enter the market by undercutting the competition. GlobalData further estimates that if consumers made such a switch it could result to the insurance industry potentially losing around £9bn in gross written premium to this new type of competition.

If GAFA are going to offer insurance products, it’s entirely plausible that they would study the competition. Given how they gather data from consumers it wouldn’t be that hard to do. We’ve previously warned that they could track the way that you conduct your business online and that they can then create competitive models based around that data.

In other words, the way technology is used in the workplace could give competitors the upper hand. As we’ve mentioned before – technology providers do anonymise the data and will rightly point out that you’ve given them consent to using this information (remember those terms you okayed when they highlighted their user agreement?).

How can I protect my business’ data?

There are a number of ways you can protect your precious company data:

  • Restrict your employees’ social media access whilst on your network.
  • Prevent copy and paste between your network and the employees’ hardware.
  • Use two factor authentication when logging into networks.
  • Have a social media policy for your employees which highlights what they can and cannot post and that should include internal personal networks. This should also include third party direct messaging services like WhatsApp.
  • Surf anonymously. This can be done through anonymisers (also known as web proxies) such as NordVPN, Surfshark and UltraVPN.
  • Use private search engines. Search engines like Google and Yahoo record your IP address, unique identifier and the search terms you use. Alternatives to Google that offer more privacy include StartPage, DuckDuckGo and Searx.
  • Understand and educate yourself about individual data rights under GDPR legislation, which should still be in place when we leave the European Union (until replaced).

Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay