Ten Loss Control Tips to Keep Your Work Laptop Safe

The growing trend of staying competitive by using the mobility and freedom provided by technology can often be a double-edged sword. Although taking your show on the road to off-site business meetings is a lot more efficient and easier when everything you need to make an eye-catching presentation is right there on the laptop, the mobility of technology does open the door to losses from theft.

Here are some simple loss prevention practices that employees can adopt to ensure their laptop stays safe and secure at and away from their worksite:

    • Carry the laptop in a case that doesn’t standout or scream expensive technology with logos or emblems. The idea is that only the carrier knows the case contains a computer. To bystanders, the case could be full of useless papers or files.
    • When traveling, use the hotel safe to store your computer. Never leave an unattended computer in a hotel room. Hotels usually warn customers that they aren’t responsible for valuables left inside rooms. And, don’t think that a locked room door is a sufficient safeguard. Maid services routinely leave rooms wide open as they’re being cleaned, meaning a passer could easily swipe your computer while the maid is busy cleaning the bathroom.
    • Never leave a laptop on the seats or otherwise in plain view in a vehicle, even a locked vehicle. Trunks are also a highly-targeted area for thieves, as many assume this is where most people will try to secure their valuables. Whenever possible, take the computer with you or leave it in a more secure locked location.
    • Make sure that your laptop will be secure during breaks if you’re at an off-site meeting. Ask if the various entrances and exits will be locked during breaks and then observe to make sure the room is indeed secure before leaving your laptop. If any question, then carry your laptop with you.
    • Avoid checking your laptop as luggage during flights. There’s too much opportunity for it to be stolen or damaged. Remove the laptop from its carrying case and give it to the guard before you go through the airport security metal detectors.
    • Write down the serial number, make, and model of your laptop and keep this information separate from your laptop.
    • Even in your own office, you need to make sure that you store your laptop in a secure location when you aren’t using it, take lunch, or need to run to another area of the building. A good rule is to lock up your computer if you can’t directly see it from your location.
    • Of course, the physical computer isn’t the only loss you can suffer. Keep a regular data backup schedule to prevent lost data due to equipment failure. It’s also prudent to minimize how much intellectual property or proprietary data is stored in the hard drive.
    • Have a password system (preferably two-tiers) or a data encryption feature to protect your data.
    • Lastly, you might consider asking your employer to arm your laptop with a tracking device as a last line of defense. Tracking devices for computers operate much like a LoJack system does on your car. Once the software is installed on the computer, it will run in the background without you even knowing it’s there. Meanwhile, the program routinely reports the IP address your computer is using and who logged into it to the security company. In the event you report your laptop stolen, the security company can remotely change how frequently the above information is fed to them. Unbeknownst to the thief, the security company is tracking his/her location every time the computer goes onli

Tips to Combat Email Phishing Attacks

As many as one in five office workers fall prey to phishing incidents, but 14 percent of office workers don’t recognize phishing attacks. Learn more about phishing and how to combat attacks on your personal or company email.

What is Phishing?

Phishing is a scam that cybercriminals use to gain access to sensitive information. It often occurs via email. The cybercriminal will send you an email that looks official but actually includes spyware, malware or other malicious software. When you open the link or download the file from the email, the criminals can access confidential information like bank account information, your social security number and other data. In many cases, you never know that your information has been compromised.

How to Recognize a Phishing Email

Phishing emails are designed to look authoritative so that you will open them and give the cybercriminal access to your computer. While these emails often look like they’re from a real company, you can usually recognize them via five signs.

    • Sender Address

      Before opening any email, look at the sender’s address. It may look similar to the official company’s address but could be slightly off. For example, it may use dot-net instead of dot-com or include a small spelling error like micrsoft or mircosoft.

    • Graphics

      Cybercriminals do a great job of imitating the graphics of popular companies. However, the logo, colors or design may be slightly off in a small way.

    • Spelling and Grammar Errors

      Most companies and organizations employ a team of copywriters who write professional content that’s typically error-free. Emails with spelling or grammar errors, are possibly phishing schemes.

    • Links

      Email links are a cybercriminal’s primary phishing tool. You can hover your mouse over any links and verify that it matches the address of the email’s sender, a sign that the link is safe.

    • Threats

      Cybercriminals use threats and fear to manipulate consumers. They may say that you will lose money, face criminal charges or suffer another devastating consequence if you don’t open the email. In most cases, these threats are meant to incite fear and get you to comply with their complicit wishes.

Steps That Protect Your Email

You can’t prevent cybercriminals from targeting you. However, you can take steps to protect yourself.

  • Install spam filters and virus scans.
  • Learn to recognize phishing emails.
  • Only open email links from verified and trusted sources.
  • Delete any emails that look suspicious.
  • Train coworkers and associates to recognize phishing threats.
  • Purchase cyber insurance that protects you if you are a victim of phishing.

You can’t stop cybercriminals from targeting your email, but you can use these tips to protect yourself and your data.

10 Holiday Meal Kitchen Safety Tips

It’s your turn to host the family holiday meal, and you’re prepared with the menu, table decorations and updated homeowners insurance. Is your kitchen safe? Consider 10 kitchen safety tips for your holiday meal.

    • Handle Raw Meat Properly

      Raw meats can spread salmonella and other bacteria if they’re handled improperly. Thaw meats in the refrigerator, never rinse raw meat, use separate cutting boards and knives for meats, and cook meats thoroughly.

    • Greasy Range Hood

      Accumulated grease on range hood can start a fire. Clean the hood thoroughly, and check the filter to make sure it’s clean, too.

    • Dirty Sponges, Dishcloths and Kitchen Towels

      Sponges, dishcloths and towels can harbor bacteria that can spread throughout your kitchen as you wipe spills and messes. Disinfect wet sponges for one minute in the microwave. Remember to replace used sponges, dishcloths and towels often, too. As an alternative, spray surfaces with sanitizing spray and wipe with paper towels.

    • Poor Refrigerator Storage Habits

      Holiday meals include all your favorite dishes. Keep the food safe and prevent bacteria growth when you:

      • Place raw meats in a sealed container.
      • Store raw fruits and vegetables in a plastic bag or container.
      • Immediately wipe up spills.
      • Refrigerate prepared foods as soon as possible.
      • Refrigerate leftovers within four hours of cooking.
    • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

      Gas ranges and ovens can emit carbon monoxide, an odorless, invisible gas that can make you sick. Hire a professional to clean and inspect your range and oven to ensure they work properly and safely.

    • Overloaded Circuits

      Faulty wiring accounts for 33 percent of all residential fires according to the U.S. Fire Administration. When you must plug multiple appliances into your electrical outlets, use power strips. If possible, unplug the appliances you don’t need.

    • No Fire Extinguisher

      Your kitchen fire extinguisher can prevent the spread of a fire and protect your family. Buy a multi-purpose fire extinguisher, and be sure you know how to use it.

    • Unattended Food

      While cooking, you may get distracted with a conversation, cleaning or other duties. Unattended food or oil can start a fire, so stay focused as you cook.

    • Unwashed Hands

      Your aunt arrives and immediately volunteers to prep the dinner salad. Be sure she washes her hands first, and insist on proper handwashing for all your kitchen helpers.

    • Tripping Hazards

      Keep your floors and walkways clear to avoid tripping. As guests arrive, they should place their bags and other items in a designated spot away from the kitchen

Your holiday celebration can be a safe and fun event when you follow these 10 kitchen safety tips.

Nine Reasons Why Employees Need A Vacation

At the end of the year, many companies encourage employees to take accrued vacation time. While you may be tempted to forfeit your earned days off, vacations are important for nine reasons.

    • Improve Productivity

      You might think that working longer hours make you more productive, but longer work hours actually decrease your productivity. Take a break and reboot. You’ll return to your job refreshed and ready to tackle your workload.

    • Enhance Decision-Making Skills

      When you’re overworked and tired, your brain gets fuzzy, and you may make poor decisions. Spend time relaxing as you enhance your decision-making skills at work.

    • Recover Creativity

      Your job may depend on your creativity, but your brain needs breaks to function at its creative capacity. While you recharge and focus on non-work activities, you may be surprised at all your new ideas.

    • Bolster Physical Health

      Overwork can affect your immune system, making you more vulnerable to illness. It can also contribute to obesity and heart disease. While your health insurance covers medical care, add regular vacations to your wellness routine. They can bolster your overall physical health.

    • Reduce Stress Levels

      Stress affects nearly every part of your physical, mental and emotional health. It also prevents you from doing your best work on the job. On a vacation, you can unwind, relax and leave work behind as you refresh your brain, body and emotions.

    • Support Mental Health

      Long hours at work can increase depression, anxiety and loneliness. Take a vacation and surround yourself with activities and people you love. Your vacation can decrease depression and support your mental health.

    • Boost Energy

      It’s easy to feel sluggish, unmotivated and disengaged when you spend every day in the same way. Planning and anticipating a vacation temporarily boosts your energy, and that energy and excitement stays with you after you return to the daily grind.

    • Expand Your Perspective

      Every day, you’re surrounded by the same people, activities and tasks. Step away and experience new things. Whether you visit an exotic location, sit on your deck with a book or explore your hometown, your vacation will expand your outlook and perspective on life and on the job.

    • Invest in Your Family

      You may work long hours in part to provide for your family, but work can actually interfere with your family life. On vacation, you reconnect with your loved ones. Spend time enjoying each other as you remember one of the reasons you work.

Instead of avoiding vacation, see it as a chance to improve your job performance and your quality of life in nine ways. You’ll be glad you took your well-deserved vacation time this year.

Seven Tips To Negotiate An Auto Insurance Claim

After a severe hail storm or vehicle accident, your insurance company totals your car. The settlement amount they offer is fairly low, though. Use seven tips to negotiate your auto insurance claim.

  • Prove the Vehicle’s Worth

    If you can prove that your vehicle is worth more than the insurance company offers, you may get more money. Examples of acceptable proof include:

    • The vehicle’s purchase price if you bought it recently
    • Recent photos that show your vehicle in pristine condition
    • Receipts for recent upgrades such as new tires, a security system or a paint job

    While it will take time for you to assemble this proof and submit it to the insurance company, the extra cash could make the effort worthwhile.

  • Ask for Financial Sources

    The insurance company should provide you with a detailed report of the figures they used to determine your settlement amount. Ask them to provide sources for their numbers, too. You can use those sources to verify the insurance settlement or run your own comparison.

  • Find a Comparable Vehicle

    Most states require auto insurance companies to provide a fair settlement. It allows you to purchase a comparable vehicle to the one that’s totaled. You can do your own search for a comparable vehicle if you don’t think the insurance company has offered a fair settlement.

    Search online and in person to find a local vehicle that’s the same make, model, year, mileage, options and condition as your totaled vehicle. Share your findings with the insurance company, and they may accept this proof and give you more money.

  • Ask if you can Keep the Car

    Sometimes, a totaled car is still drivable. If that’s the case, the insurance company may allow you to keep and drive the car. However, you may need to pay a salvage fee and drop comprehensive coverage.

  • Remain Calm

    After an accident, you may feel stressed and upset as you navigate the insurance claim and adjust to life without your vehicle. Try to remain calm, however, as you state your case and show that you are confident in your facts and serious about your desire to get a larger settlement.

  • Contact the State Insurance Commissioner

    Your state’s Insurance Commissioner protects citizens like you. Appeal to the office if your settlement amount truly is low and your negotiation efforts are unsuccessful.

  • Give it a Try

    You may doubt that your efforts to negotiate will succeed. It’s always a good idea to try. You may surprise yourself and succeed!

Sometimes, you can get more money for your vehicle after it’s totaled. These seven tips can help you successfully negotiate a new settlement.