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Monthly Archives

April 2018

Choose A Secure Password With 11 Tips

By Cyber Security Awareness | No Comments

Strong passwords protect your information from cybercriminals and keep you safe as you use the internet.

1. Use a combination of letters, numbers and symbols.

The best keywords are difficult to guess, so use a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers and symbols.

2. Use at least eight characters.

Longer passwords are more difficult to guess, so aim to make all your passwords at least eight characters long.

3. Avoid common words.

It’s amazing how many people set common words like “qwerty” or “12345” as their passwords. You secure your accounts when you use more challenging passwords.

4. Opt for unique phrases.

Single-word passwords are easy for hackers to crack with their dictionary software. Phrases like “I like ham sandwiches” or “the dog ate my homework” are more challenging to hack. Consider misspelling phrases, too, and replace letters with numbers or symbols or abbreviate words. Examples include ilIkeh@msandw!ches or tHed@g8myhomew*rk.

5. Avoid using your name or familiar numbers.

Hackers can easily find information about your life and use those details to hack into the websites you use. Never use your:

  • Name, including nickname or maiden name
  • Birth date
  • Social Security number
  • Street address
  • Family members’ names or birthdates
  • Pets’ names
  • Address, current or former

6. Don’t reuse passwords.

When you change your password, pick a unique password that you’ve never used on any site.

7. Give every site a different password.

Use the same password for multiple sites, and you invite a hacker to access all your information. Instead, use a different password for every site. A password manager can help you remember all your different passwords.

8. Use a two-factor authentication.

A two-factor authentication or 2FA increases your log-in security. It typically includes your password and a PIN, code, fingerprint or voiceprint.

9. Don’t save your passwords.

Browsers typically prompt you to save passwords. Always click no. Someone could gain access to your device and then log into websites using your saved passwords.

10. Log out of websites and devices.

After using a website or device, log out. This step reduces the chances of someone logging onto your device and gaining access the sites you used.

11. Change your passwords often.

At least once a month or more often for bank or social media sites, change the password. Set a reminder alarm on your phone’s calendar if necessary.

When you secure your passwords, you make it more challenging for cybercriminals to steal your personal information. For additional safety tips and details about cyber insurance, talk to your insurance agent today.

Practical Tips To Avoid Phishing Attacks At Work

By Cyber Security Awareness | No Comments

According to a phishing study conducted by KnowBe4, employees in the insurance, manufacturing and technology industries click phishing emails or open infected attachments more than employees in other industries.However, no industry is immune to phishing attacks. Use several practical tips to protect your company from phishing attacks.

1. Recognize spam.

Emails designed to gather and steal information can be disguised to look like they originate from a legitimate company. Check every email carefully before you open it, and look for this and other signs of spam.

  • Originate from an unrecognized sender.
  • Ask for confirmation of personal, financial or banking information.
  • Contain a sense of urgency.
  • Threaten to contact the police or other organization if you don’t comply.

If you notice any of these signs, mark the email as spam and delete it.

2. Use secure websites.

Employers may need to order or pay for items online. In this case, they should only use secure websites to share personal or financial information. A lock icon on the browser status bar and https URL indicate that the site is secure.

3. Carefully update information via email.

Cybercriminals can practically duplicate the look, logo and other details of a legitimate company as they attempt to steal data. Your employees should always verify that the email is from the right company before they submit personal, financial or other secure information. Even then, they should use caution since anyone can hack into email and access the sensitive data it contains.

4. Avoid clicking on certain links, files and attachments.

Links, files and attachments from unknown senders may contain a virus or spyware that can compromise your entire network. Remind employees not to click on email links, files or attachments from senders they do not know or are not expecting.

5. Beware of pop-ups.

Annoying pop-ups can also be a tool cybercriminals use to gather sensitive data. Legitimate companies do not gather information via a pop-up, so employees should not click on pop-ups, copy a pop-up’s web address into a browser or enter personal information into a pop-up screen.

6. Utilize IT security measures.

Your computer system should feature IT security, including a firewall, anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and spam filters. Update these measures regularly, and instruct your employees to keep them intact.

7. Hold frequent training.

Human forgetfulness and evolving phishing scams require you to host frequent cybersecurity training. It teaches your employees to recognize and avoid phishing scams and can dramatically decrease risks.

Phishing scams can harm your company now and into the future. In addition to purchasing cyber insurance, protect your company when you take these practical steps.

Building Valuation: Closing the ‘Underinsurance Gap’

By Business Protection Bulletin | No Comments

When settling Building Insurance claims, it can be tough to determine the real cost of replacing or restoring damaged property. Unfortunately, the methods that policyholders, insurance companies, and agents usually use to set the right amount of coverage all have their weaknesses; according to insurance experts, this means some buildings might be underinsured by up to 40%!

This shouldn’t be a surprise. Basing the amount of coverage on the purchase price of a building doesn’t factor in possibly significant changes in the value of the location. The same problem applies with using real estate appraisals, which are based on the sale price.

Although setting coverage by estimating square footage and material costs can be fairly accurate, these methods depend on the validity of the data plugged into the formulas. What’s more, changes in zoning or building regulations can have a significant impact of the value of the building.

As a construction professional, you can’t afford to “guestimate” the cost of building repair or restoration after a loss. For example, you probably have a strong grasp of arcane and complex zoning and building ordinances in your everyday work.

We’d be happy to provide a complimentary review of the valuation of your buildings for coverage purposes and recommend any needed changes. We can then explore opportunities to improve the accuracy of building valuations for your clients — and ours, so that we can help close that 40% “underinsurance gap.”

Top Tips To Reduce Stress At Work

By Employment Resources | No Comments

Three in four adults report that work stress affects their personal lives. Since April is National Stress Awareness Month, your HR department can share several tips that help your staff reduce stress at work.

Schedule your Day

Your productivity naturally wanes during the day. Be proactive and schedule tough, unpleasant or high-energy tasks for the moments when you have the most energy, and leave mundane or boring tasks for low-energy times. With this tip, you’ll get more done and feel less stressed.

Listen

Maintain an open-door policy that welcomes co-workers to share challenges they face. With this information, you can address areas that should be changed and help your staff find solutions that reduce their specific stressors.

Eliminate Interruptions

Email, pop-ins and phone calls interrupt your train of thought and can affect your deadlines. If you can’t turn off your phone, shut your office door or set up office hours, work to manage your response. Accept the reality that you will face interruptions and try to remain calm. Then perform triage and prioritize the interruptions as you deal with the most important things first and delegate or leave the rest until tomorrow.

Take A Deep Breath

Give yourself a moment to breathe deeply when you feel tense, overwhelmed or angry. Simply inhale through your mouth, count to five and exhale slowly through your nose. This break can calm your mind and body during meetings or after frustrating encounters with clients or co-workers.

Improve Interoffice Relationships

Encourage team members to build trust and improve communication. Team bonding exercises and problem-solving techniques eliminate troublesome interpersonal problems and related stress.

Exercise

Take exercise breaks throughout the day to reboot your body and your brain. A quick walk during lunch, stretch breaks every hour and yoga, basketball or a bike ride after work can help you relax.

Eat a Balanced Diet

Stress eating may help you feel better in the moment, but it can actually make you feel sluggish, irritable and tired. Boost your protein intake and cut sugar as you fuel your body to work and think efficiently. Stock the break room with healthy snacks and water, too.

Get Enough Sleep

Lack of sleep affects your ability to think clearly, make decisions and handle challenges. Implement a good sleep hygiene routine so you can stay alert and function at your best while at work.

Buy Plants

Plants brighten your workspace, clean the air and help you relax. Your plants may also lower your blood pressure and quicken your reaction time, helping you get more done and feel less stressed.

These top tips help your co-workers feel less stressed at work. Implement them in your workplace today.

Employee Retention Tips For Your Business

By Employment Resources | No Comments

To help your business grow and stay healthy, you need to retain your employees. Your company will experience higher employee and customer satisfaction ratings, and you’ll save money and conserve resources when you maintain a consistent workforce. Gain these benefits and protect your company when you implement several employee retention tips.

Hire Quality Employees

During your hiring process, try to fill positions with staff members who fit in with your culture, possess essential skills and embrace your company’s vision. Employees are more likely to stay long-term when they feel at home in your company.

Clarify Expectations

Ensure every employee understands their production goals and other expectations. They’ll experience less stress and feel more secure and motivated when they have a clear set of goals to achieve.

Tap Into Talents, Skills and Experiences

Every employee has a hidden skill or two that can benefit your business. Get to know each member of your team, and discover the unique talents, skills and experiences they possess. You can then maximize each staff member as you stretch them professionally and enhance your business.

Provide Tools, Training and Growth Opportunities

Equip your employees for success when you provide them with the tools they need to do their jobs. You can also schedule performance reviews and ongoing training workshops, seminars and classes that help your employees feel professionally fulfilled and satisfied.

Appreciate all Employees

Incentives, gifts and rewards show employees that you value and appreciate them. Consider offering:

  • Flexible work hours
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Competitive salaries
  • Free lunches
  • Regular verbal thank you’s

Each of these appreciative measures boosts morale and gives your employees reasons to stay.

Encourage Work-Life Balance

Protect your employees from stress and other health problems as you encourage work-life balance. Offer nontraditional work hours or a flexible schedule, extra holidays, realistic work expectations, and more breaks. Your efforts improve employee morale and satisfaction.

Strive for Fairness

Most businesses implement different pay and incentive levels, but do your best to be fair and equitable. Offering only certain employees higher pay, extra bonuses or other perks will negatively affect employee morale, productivity and longevity.

Welcome Feedback

Give your employees freedom to share their thoughts, ideas and opinions as you create an open environment that welcomes improvements and innovation. Be sure to take all suggestions seriously, and give employees credit for their ideas as you keep your team excited and involved in your company’s growth and success.

Conduct Exit Interviews

When employees do leave, conduct exit interviews and ask why they’re moving on. Their insights can help you improve operations and reduce future employee losses.

With these tips, your company can improve employee retention. You’ll then gain a variety of benefits that keep your business healthy.

Freezing Your Credit

By Personal Perspective | No Comments

In early September, the credit reporting agency Equifax announced a significant data breach. Hackers were able to access the names, birth dates, Social Security numbers and addresses of 143 million consumers, which put their identity and credit at risk. A credit report freeze is one protective measure Equifax recommended. Every consumer, including you, should understand this protective measure as you protect your data, identity and credit.

What is a Credit Report Freeze?

A credit report freeze allows you to restrict who can access your credit report. When a freeze is in place, only certain professional entities can see your information, and it’s less likely that an identity theft can access your data.

Ways a Credit Report Freeze Affects You

When you place a credit report freeze on your account, it affects you in several ways.

1. It prevents certain entities from accessing your credit report. This includes potential employers, mortgage companies and car dealers.

2. Existing creditors and any debt collection agencies they hire and government agencies responding to a court order or subpoena may continue to access your credit report.

3. You can continue to access your free annual credit report.

4. It does not affect your credit score.

5. You will continue to receive prescreened credit offers for credit or insurance. Call 888-5OPTOUT (888-567-8688) or go online to optoutprescreen.com if you wish to stop receiving these offers.

How to Place a Credit Report Freeze

Contact the three nationwide credit reporting companies to freeze your credit report.

To place a freeze, you must provide your name, birth date, Social Security number, address and other personal information. You will also have to pay a fee. It typically ranges from $5 to $10 but varies based on where you live.

How to Know if Your Credit Report Freeze is Successful

After placing a credit report freeze, you will receive a confirmation letter from the credit reporting company. It includes a unique password or PIN you will need if you ever choose to lift the freeze.

How to Lift a Credit Report Freeze

Your credit report freeze remains in place indefinitely. However, you may want to lift it so you can apply for a job or credit. To do that, simply contact the credit reporting company to request a lift. You will provide your password or PIN, pay a fee that varies by state and indicate if you want a temporary or permanent lift.

A credit report freeze can protect your personal data and identity. Consider monitoring your bank, insurance and credit card statements, though, too, and purchase cyber liability insurance as a further protective measure.

Tips to Combat Email Phishing Attacks

By Cyber Security Awareness | No Comments

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 AddressBefore 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.
    • GraphicsCybercriminals 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 ErrorsMost 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.
    • LinksEmail 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.
    • ThreatsCybercriminals 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.

Tips To Foster New Cybersecurity Professionals And Protect Your Business

By Cyber Security Awareness | No Comments

By 2019, the cybersecurity industry will face a deficit of over two million professionals. Whether your company needs a solid cybersecurity team or already has a great team in place, consider taking steps to fight this deficit and protect your business.

Detail the Threat

Incite current employees to enter the cybersecurity industry when you detail current threats, including phishing scams and cyber breaches. Employees who are aware of the threats may step up and seek further training so they can protect others.

Make Cybersecurity Everyone’s Job

Cyberbreach costs exceed $100 billion annually in the United States. Despite your cyber liability insurance policy, your company is not immune to breaches. Ensure that every employee understands the basics of privacy and security in their daily operations. With ongoing training, your team will be equipped to protect your company.

Recommend Schools that Align with National Cybersecurity Guidelines

The National Security Agency (NSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) sponsor a program that supports cybersecurity education for all elementary to postgraduate students and aims to improve the number of trained cybersecurity professionals. Currently, 200 universities have earned the Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD) status in the U.S. Highlight these schools as you encourage people to enter the cybersecurity field.

Encourage Hands-on Training

In addition to four-year degrees, a variety of hands-on certification programs also train students to handle cyber challenges. They include the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP), Security+, Network+, GIAC Penetration Tester (GPEN), and Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH). The hands-on education means graduates are prepared to succeed as security specialists, security analysts or other security professionals immediately after graduation.

Introduce Practical Skills

A cybersecurity training program will include technical classes in risk management, data mining and statistical analysis. However, students must know other skills such as collaboration, conflict management, perseverance, and attention to detail. These practical skills provide a well-rounded education and enhance a student’s ability to succeed in the cybersecurity field.

Offer an Annual Scholarship or Tuition Reimbursement

Sometimes, finances prevent someone from pursuing a cybersecurity career. Reduce financial strain with a scholarship for current employees and their family members. You could also offer tuition reimbursement that allows employees to boost their current cybersecurity skills or pursue advanced training.

Allow Flexible Work Hours

If your employees express interest in pursuing cybersecurity training, give them a flexible work schedule. They can work a different shift, share duties with another employee or telecommute as they balance work and classes.

Your company can do its part to train new cybersecurity professionals. Take these steps so that more trained personnel can fight cybercrime and keep data safe.

Six Myths About Workers’ Compensation Insurance

By Workplace Safety | No Comments

Workers’ Compensation Insurance is an important product for employees. There are six common myths that surround this insurance, though. Debunk the myths so you can understand and maximize your benefits.

1. Small businesses don’t need to offer Workers’ Compensation Insurance.

You may work in a small business with only a few employees. Federal and state laws dictate that most businesses with one or more employees must carry Workers’ Compensation insurance. Be sure your employer carries this valuable insurance even if you are a solo employee.

2. I don’t need Worker’s Compensation insurance because my job is low-risk.

Some jobs, like construction, farming and commercial fishing, are dangerous. However, even low-risk jobs include injury and illness risks. You could develop carpal tunnel while typing or slip and fall in the break room during lunch. Your employer will pay lower Workers’ Compensation insurance premiums if you work in a low-risk job, and you absolutely must ensure you’re covered no matter what type of work you perform.

3. I’m careful and won’t get hurt.

While you might have an accident-free employment history, it only takes a second for an accident to happen. Plus, some workplace accidents or injuries occur because of someone else’s actions. Ensure you are covered by Workers’ Compensation regardless of your careful track record.

4. My boss is like family, and I could never sue.

It’s great that you have such a good relationship with your boss and feel like family. However, you are still employer-employee. By law, your employer must provide Workers’ Compensation for you. You also owe it to yourself and your dependents to have this valuable coverage in place in case you are injured or disabled and can’t work.

5. My boss will pay my work-related injury or illness expenses out-of-pocket.

Perhaps your boss has vowed to pay out-of-pocket for your medical, living and others expenses if you’re injured or become ill on the job. Unfortunately, your boss may decide not to pay, particularly when the Workers’ Compensation claims reach thousands of dollars or affect multiple employees. Always protect yourself with Workers’ Compensation insurance so that you can ensure your expenses are paid.

6. Any pain I feel at work is eligible for Workers’ Compensation.

While assembling furniture at work, you notice that your arm hurts. Instead of rushing to file a Workers’ Compensation claim, think about when and where the pain started. If it originated from an activity or injury that occurred outside of work, don’t file a Workers’ Compensation claim.

Workers’ Compensation insurance is important. Understand these six myths as you make sure you’re covered. For more details, contact your Human Resources manager or insurance agent.

Best Ways To Protect Your Vision When Your Work At A Computer

By Your Employee Matters | No Comments

Up to ninety percent of people who use a computer at work for even as little as two hours experience eye strain or computer vision syndrome (CVS). That strain can range from minor irritations and red eyes to decreased vision. Computer use can also cause physical fatigue, work errors and decreased productivity, so take these steps and reduce eye strain.

Cut the Glare

Bright light can increase eye strain, so close curtains and dim interior lights or use low-intensity bulbs. You can also install an anti-glare lens on your monitor or eyeglasses.

Improve Your Display

Select at least a 19-inch high-resolution monitor that features a liquid crystal display rather than a cathode ray tube. This display technology reduces glare and image flicker, two factors that can cause eye strain.

Adjust the Display Settings

The settings on your monitor can affect your vision, so make several adjustments.

  • Match the brightness to your surroundings.
  • Increase the text size and contrast.
  • Use black print and a white background.
  • Reduce the color temperature to lower the blue light.

Change your Workstation

Several ergonomic adjustments at your workstation can reduce eye strain. When looking from paper to the monitor, place the paper on a raised stand so it’s even with the monitor. Then set the chair and monitor to the correct height. The computer screen should sit 10 to 15 degrees below and 20 to 24 inches or an arm’s length away from your eyes. You should also clean your screen regularly to remove fingerprints and dust that affects your view.

Take Breaks

Set your timer and look away from your computer screen every 20 minutes. Focus on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds to give your eyes a break.

Also, remember to blink. When using a computer, you’re one-third less likely to blink, but your eyes need the moisture.

You can step away from your workstation and stretch, too. These breaks reduce muscle fatigue and tension, and you will return to work ready to focus on your screen and work again.

Purchase Computer Glasses

Modified eyeglasses with lightly tinted or photochromic lenses reduce blue light exposure. Ask your optometrist about silicone hydrogel contact lenses, too, the most comfortable contact lenses for many computer users.

Get an Eye Exam

Use your vision insurance coverage to check your eye health. Tell your doctor how often you use the computer and get tips for reducing future eye strain. You may also need artificial tears to correct dry eye and reduce irritation.

As you work at your computer, take these steps to reduce eye strain. They protect your vision and improve your work productivity.