white background, with girl wearing glasses, wearing white t-shirt typing on a white keyboard and white mouse on the side; her expression is shock.

You’ve Been Hacked. Now What?

While getting hacked can be scary, there are steps you can take to reclaim control.

In life, there is no such thing as a sure thing, and technology is no exception. Devices fail. Software can have flaws. Algorithms can be buggy. Additionally, there can be lapses in a security system for a computer or Wi-Fi network. The truth is that, regardless of how diligent you have been with your digital security, a day may come where you realize that a worst-case scenario has come to fruition. You have been hacked, and your files, accounts and other important data are now exposed and vulnerable. In this moment, questions will likely begin to race through your mind. How are you going to respond? What are you going to do first?

Don’t Panic

The first thing to do is to not panic. It’s critical to remain calm so you can act quickly and decisively. If your hack has occurred on your work computer or device, do not attempt to fix the problem. Notify your IT support specialist and rely on their professional expertise. If the hack has transpired on your personal device or home network, however, you will need to take direct action to protect yourself and limit the damage.

Change Your Passwords

The easiest step you can take is to change all your passwords. From bank and utility accounts to social media profiles and email platforms, the average person can have dozens of different passwords that they use to operate online. Due to this sheer volume, it can be a daunting prospect to comprehensively rework all your digital passwords. To make it easier, work strategically, focusing on the most important accounts first. You can also employ a password manager to make the process easier and ensure that you can remember the new passwords you are generating.

Be Vigilant

Even after you change your passwords, stay vigilant regarding your financial accounts and continuously monitor for any unauthorized activity. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, contact your bank or financial institution and report suspicious transactions. You can also consider putting a credit freeze on your credit files, which can mitigate lasting harm to your financial reputation. Lastly, when contacting your bank, use a device you know you can trust.

Scour and Start Over

Once you have secured your online accounts and taken action to protect your financial health and reputation, you should move toward repairing your compromised machine. Use your antivirus software and run a comprehensive scan of your device. If you don’t have antivirus software already installed, you can and should download a strong program. There are a glut of affordable programs that you can download directly onto your computer, tablet or mobile phone. Just be sure to conduct appropriate due diligence to ensure you are selecting a robust program. Now is not the time to skimp on security!

For additional peace of mind, you may want to consider reinstalling your device’s operating system in its entirety. Keep in mind to not reinstall from backups, which should only be employed to recover personal files. For some, this step may feel challenging and beyond the scope of their knowledge and capabilities. If that is the case, consult with a professional. Working with a digital security or computer repair expert will give you additional confidence that your reinstallation is being carried out correctly.

You’re Not Powerless

There is no way to guarantee total security when operating online. For evidence of this, you only have to look at the news. Hardly a week goes by without a story reporting on a large company experiencing a major data breach. Therefore, despite an individual’s best efforts, hacks may still happen. The important thing is how you choose to respond. By staying calm, securing your digital accounts, cleaning your machine or reinstalling the operating system completely, you will empower yourself to overcome a security breach and move forward as an even savvier internet user.

Picture with christmas bough garland as top border, distressed brown wood slat background, hands giving a simply wrapped present with light blue bow, the words "'tis the season" in white and the #ALLNATCARES hashtag and logo

The Alliant National Team: Driven to Serve

Alliant National team members have an important role: to support the independent agents that help make the American Dream possible. Service is central to the field and at the core of the company’s mission. It should be no surprise that service-oriented professionals gravitate toward Alliant National, individuals compelled to make a positive impact in both their professional and personal lives.

One such group is the Alliant National Claims Team, based out of Florida, which has a long history of philanthropic activity. “In 2015, Alliant National went through the process of identifying the company’s stakeholders. One identified stakeholder was our community,” says Noemi Dedouh, Vice President and Chief Claims Council for Alliant National. “That process inspired our team to begin charitable campaigns in 2016.”

Alliant's Rachel Ryan working at Habitat for Humanity

In 2016 and 2017, the Claims Team participated in two Habitat for Humanity projects. They helped build homes from the ground up in collaboration with several other departments within Alliant National, and beautified several homes in a subdivision the following year.

In 2018, the Claims Team donated time to the Ronald McDonald House charity. The team took a day during the workweek to make a home-cooked meal for the families staying at the House. Their work was supported by Alliant National as well, as the company donated all the food to the event.

2019 found the team participating in the American Cancer Society Relay for Life. Claims selected this charity in honor of a former employee whose mother had passed away from cancer. During that volunteer project, the Claims Team raised over $5,700 in donations, and the company added $1,000 toward the initiative. 

West Orange Foundation Annual Food Drive 2020

This year, the Alliant National Claims Team kicked their service work into overdrive, taking on two charitable drives during the holidays. The first drive was completed during Thanksgiving. Partnering with the West Orange Foundation, which supports the communities of the West Orange Chamber of Commerce, the Alliant National Claims Team raised over $2,400 to help buy food for needy families. Once again, this fundraising initiative was supplemented by Alliant National’s $1,000 donation. 

In December the Claims Team partnered with Toys for Tots for its second fundraising drive. Toys for Tots is a program with a mission that has been in operation for nearly 75 years. Between donations from staff, friends, family, outside counsel, and a company donation of $1,000, the drive raised a total over $4,500. The funds will provide toys to underprivileged children, a perfect cause for the holiday season. 

2020-Toys-for-Tots
2020-Toys-for-Tots

“Alliant National and its employees donate time and money every chance they get to local charities,” says Dedouh. “We are so grateful that Alliant National supports our local communities and that we can bring greater awareness to these important charities.”

The philanthropy practiced by its staff and supported by its leadership is a natural extension of Alliant National’s efforts to empower the independent agent. The spirit of service flows through the organization, helping people build better lives and enabling the creation of stronger communities.         

Interested in participating in Alliant National’s charitable activities throughout Florida? Contact Noemi Dedouh at ndedouh@alliantnational.com.

Graphic of multi-colored arrows mergeing into 1 blue arrow pointed toward multi-colored stick figures while aiming at the blue figure.

Building Buyer Personas

To market effectively, understand your customers

When preparing any marketing campaign, sometimes there is the desire to put the cart before the horse. Such impulses are understandable. Creating marketing collateral often provides the greatest opportunity for marketers to exercise their creativity. However, jumping directly to a campaign’s deliverables misses a critical step of the process. Before you can think about how you’re going to unroll your marketing efforts, first you must think about who you are trying to reach.

One effective strategy to accomplish this is the use of buyer personas, a fictional representation of your ideal audience. Generating these representations can be enormously helpful for the entirety of your campaign, guiding the channels you select and the marketing material you create. The following tips can help you start creating these personas and have a better chance of ensuring your campaign’s success.

Use Real-World Data

When creating buyer personas, it’s best to trust real-world data over gut instincts. Start by conducting a top-level audit of your current customers. You can gather this information from a wide variety of sources. From social media analytics to your customer database, we live in a data-rich world where important insights can be easily gleaned. Even a cursory look at this data can yield demographical information such as gender, age, geographical location, language, education level, career level, interests and more. Gathering this information can help build the foundation of your buyer personas, serving as a strong starting point for compiling additional insights.

Dig Deeper

Once you have sketched a rough demographical outline of your various customers, you will want to dig deeper into their psychology – identifying goals, needs and pain points in the process. To obtain this information, you can carry out customer interviews or surveys, gain insights from your sales team or look at analytic platforms like Google Analytics or Google Trends. Use these sources to build out a psychological profile for your various customer segments and go so far as to write down your customers’ potential motivations, goals and frustrations.

Channels and Technology

After you have obtained a clearer picture of who your customers are and what motivates them, you need to flesh out their behavior. Ask yourself how your customers go about finding the information they need for obtaining solutions to the problems that plague them. This question can help you better understand how your customers behave online, what publications or websites they read and even what devices they use to access the internet. This knowledge can assist you in tailoring your campaigns, allocating marketing dollars to the correct channels and ensuring whether you need to create collateral optimized for mobile technology or not.  

Final Thoughts

It is hard to overstate the importance of buyer personas or how they can act as a lynchpin for the overall success of your marketing endeavors. Built correctly, buyer personas can guide other steps in the marketing process, governing how you segment your potential customers, how you select your marketing channels and even how you package your marketing copy. In short, by putting your marketing in front of the right people, with the right message, at the right time, you will have a greater likelihood of meeting your sales goals and taking your business to the next level.

Graphic of a blue outlined computer monitor with a vertical yellow file folder coming out of it.

The Basics of Digital Organization

Take charge of your devices and accounts to get your digital house in order.

We have all been there at some point: Your desktop has become a cluttered mess. Your computer is overrun with outdated or unnecessary software. Even your update notifications have become unmanageable.

If you can relate to this, it is probably time to better organize your digital presence. By taking advantage of the following steps, you will instill your digital life with a greater sense of control and order, lowering your anxiety and maximizing your productivity as a result.

The Power of Folders

The first thing to do is to tackle your cluttered desktop. Start by setting a hard limit on top-level folders and then stick to that limit for each tier of your digital folder tree. Pick a number large enough to accurately encompass the various ways in which you use your device but small enough to instill your machine with a sense of order. More than likely, this number will need to be larger than five, but you should strive to keep your final number under ten. Like any goal, the numerical limit you select should force discipline but ultimately remain feasible.

For this blog, we will use the number seven, splitting the difference. Begin by establishing your top-level system of seven folders on your desktop. Think about how you can segment the different materials on your computer in the most generalized way possible. Perhaps consider a file for photos, a file for client documents, a file for any personal items and so on. After that, navigate inside each folder and once again create no more than seven sub-folders to further organize all files that you have lumped together into your top-level folders. Repeat this step for as many levels as you need.

Throw Out and Back-Up

Perhaps the most satisfying step in any organizing project is throwing out items you no longer need. First off, empty your recycling bin. Then ask some hard questions about each file you have. Is this something you need on your hard drive? Are you holding onto it for any legitimate purpose – whether it is professional, personal or even sentimental? The trick is to balance scrutiny and regret. Throw out everything you can, but if you have doubts about an item, keep it. Just make sure it is properly filed away in your newly-established folder system.

You can also assess your software programs and internet browsers. Uninstall any programs you no longer use to free up space on your machine. Delete your browser’s cookies and temporary files. You can also deploy a disk cleaning software application, but be sure to select one with good reviews.

After you have arranged your files and deleted as much as you can, backup everything that remains on your machine. There are several approaches you can take here. You can store your data on the Cloud with end-to-end encryption. You could save it to an external hard drive. You could even burn your data to a CD. Fortunately, mobile devices already support automatic data backups, and there are numerous software options out there that are cost-effective and relatively easy to use.

Enable Alerts and Updates

To ensure that you are staying organized in your digital life, you should enable automatic software updates. The endless update notifications we receive these days can be annoying and cumbersome – but the updating process is an incredibly important step to ensuring your online security. By implementing automatic updates, you will kill two birds with one stone. You will reduce the amount of manual updating you have to do and likely cut down on the volume of notifications you receive.

Tracking activity in your important digital accounts is another key piece of digital organization. You should consider activating alerts on your banking accounts in particular. Many banks offer a wide range of alert services that can help you manage your money. From low balance and unusual purchase alerts to notifications about large ATM withdrawals, it makes a lot of sense to take advantage of these free services.

Reclaim Control

These days, we all spend a considerable portion of our time online conducting large amounts of personal and professional business. Understandably, our devices can get disorganized. But by following these steps, you can reduce clutter, streamline processes and finally reclaim a measure of control over your digital life.

Welcome Christy Hennesey, West Florida Agency Manager for Alliant National

Welcome Christy Hennesey, West Florida Agency Manager

Longmont, Colo. – (December 1, 2020) – Alliant National Title Insurance Company, a unique title insurance underwriter that partners with independent agents to improve their competitive position, announces the hiring of Christy Hennesey, West Florida Agency Manager.

Hennesey has had a long career in the title insurance industry, having worked with various underwriters for nearly 20 years. She got her start working on the production side of the business before transitioning to the role of agency manager. In this position, she gained extensive experience in adding new agents, as well as managing relationships with existing agents. “I’m excited to add my expertise in relationship building and growing an agent base to the Alliant National team,” says Hennesey. “I look forward to joining a company dedicated to the independent agent and helping ensure their ongoing success.”

Hennesey’s past professional experience will serve her well in her new role. She will be responsible for expanding Alliant National’s agent network in western Florida, in addition to supporting the development of current agents and increasing regional awareness of Alliant National’s brand.

“Christy brings a wealth of experience and a mindset that perfectly complements Alliant National’s mission to always put agents first,” says Debra J. Coffie, Senior Vice President, Florida Regional Manager. “Her ability to build strong, lasting relationships with independent agents, not to mention her deep industry knowledge, will add incredible value to our Florida operations.”

Outside of her work, Hennesey enjoys spending time with her family. She is married with two sons and often spends weekends attending her sons’ baseball tournaments or football games, depending on the season.

Alliant National distinguishes itself from competitors by combining strong underwriting capability with independent agents’ in-depth knowledge of local markets. The result is a nationwide network with deep roots in local communities, and a wealth of expertise that is flexible, nuanced, and continuously growing.

Visit alliantnational.com for additional information.

MEDIA INQUIRIES

Cathie Beck
Capital City Public Relation
e : cathie@capitalcitypr.com
p : 303-241-0805

ABOUT ALLIANT NATIONAL TITLE INSURANCE COMPANY

The Independent Underwriter for The Independent AgentSM – Alliant National believes in empowering people to thrive. The company protects the dreams of property owners with secure title insurance and partners with 500+ trusted independent title agents as a licensed underwriter in 27 states and the District of Columbia, with annual revenues exceeding $126 million.

This blog contains general information only, not intended to be relied upon as, nor a substitute for, specific professional advice. We accept no responsibility for loss occasioned to any purpose acting on or refraining from action as a result of any material on this blog.

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The Independent Underwriter for
the Independent AgentSM