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What is U.S. Cybersecurity Emergency Response Team?

By Cyber Security Awareness | No Comments

Malware, viruses and worms are only a few of the cybersecurity threats that affect your online security, privacy and personal information. Learn what is U.S. Cybersecurity Emergency Response Team (US-CERT), a tool that protects you every day.

History of the U.S. Cybersecurity Emergency Response Team

The US-CERT began in early 2000. The federal government noticed an increase in cyber breaches and began investigating ways to respond to these threats. Congress cooperated and created the Federal Computer Incident Response Center (FedCIRC).

In 2002, Congress transferred FedCIRC duties to the newly created Department of Homeland Security. The FedCIRC was renamed US-CERT in 2003, and its mission also expanded. The organization now coordinated and shared information and provided boundary protection for the government and cybersecurity leaders.

Over time, US-CERT developed into an authoritative source and trusted security partner for the federal government and international organizations. Private industries like banks and businesses use US-CERT resources, too.

What Does the U.S. Cybersecurity Emergency Response Team Do?

The U.S. Cybersecurity Emergency Response Team performs several critical mission activities. They:

  • Analyze data about emerging cyber threats.
  • Collaborate with foreign governments and international entities to improve the U.S.’s cybersecurity position.
  • Detect intruders and prevent cybersecurity attacks for civilian executive branches of the federal government.
  • Develop actionable tips, actions and information for a variety of agencies including international organizations, federal departments, critical infrastructure owners and operators and private industries.
  • Respond to emerging cyber threats and incidents.

How Does US-CERT Handle Potential Threats?

When the US-CERT receives a threat report from any source, including civilians, they act quickly. The team must assess the threat, determine its viability and take steps to stop it.

The department partners with several international and national organizations to ensure security of the infrastructure, systems and assets that are critical to United States security. These partners include federal agencies, international entities, research communities and private sector organizations.

Find Out About US-CERT Threats

Stay updated on potential and founded cybersecurity threats with several resources.

  • Weekly Vulnerability Bulletins – summaries of new vulnerabilities and any available patch information
  • Technical Alerts – information about incidents, vulnerabilities and trends that pose significant risk and the actions taken to minimize information loss or service disruption
  • Current Activity entries – concise descriptions of any issues and associated actions that help consumers and other entities remain safe
  • Tips – details about issues US-CERT’s constituents may find valuable, helpful or interesting
  • NVD – data that manages standards-based vulnerability

What is U.S. Cybersecurity Emergency Response Team? In a nutshell, it’s the organization that keeps you, your bank, businesses and the country safe from computer attacks that threaten our national security and your personal information. You can sleep peacefully at night because US-CERT does their job behind the scenes every day.

Cyber Risks are Real, Protect Your Business

By Cyber Security Awareness | No Comments

The federal Internet Crime Complaint Center received more than 330,000 complaints in 2009, and more than a third of them ended up in the hands of law enforcement. The damages from those referred to the authorities totaled more than a half billion dollars. The Government Accountability Office estimated that cyber crime cost U.S. organizations $67.2 billion in 2005; that number has likely increased since then. With so much of business today done electronically, organizations of all types are highly vulnerable to theft and corruption of their data. It is important for them to identify their loss exposures, possible loss scenarios, and prepare for them. Some of the questions they should ask include:

What types of property are vulnerable? 

The organization should consider property it owns, leases, or property of others it has in its custody. Some examples:

    • Money, both the organization’s own funds and those it holds as a fiduciary for someone else
    • Customer or member lists containing personally identifiable information, account numbers, cell phone numbers, and other non-public information
    • Personnel records
    • Medical insurance records
    • Bank account information
    • Confidential memos and spreadsheets
    • E-mail
    • Software stored on web servers

Different types of property will be susceptible to various threats, such as embezzlement, extortion, viruses, and theft.

What loss scenarios could occur?

The organization needs to prepare for events such as:

    • A fire destroys large portions of the computer network, including the servers. Operations cease until the servers can be replaced and reloaded with data.
    • A computer virus infects a workstation. The user of that computer unknowingly spreads it to everyone in his workgroup, crippling the department during one of the year’s peak periods.
    • The accounting department discovers a pattern of irregular small funds transfers to an account no one has ever heard of. The transfers, which have been occurring for almost three months, were small enough to avoid attracting attention. They total more than $10,000.
    • A vendor’s employee strikes up a casual conversation at a worker’s cubicle and stays long enough to memorize the worker’s computer password, written on a post-it note stuck to her monitor. Two weeks later, technology staff discovers that an offsite computer has accessed the human resources database and viewed Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, and other personal information.

In addition to taking steps to prevent these things from happening, the organization should consider buying a Cyber insurance policy. Several insurance companies now offer this coverage; although no standard policy exists yet, the policies share some common features. They usually cover property or data damage or destruction, data protection and recovery, loss of income when a business must suspend operations due to data loss, extra expenses necessary to maintain operations following a data event, data theft, and extortion.

However, each company might define these coverages differently, so reviewing the terms and conditions of a particular policy is crucial. Choosing an appropriate amount of insurance is difficult because there is no easy way to measure the exposure in advance.

Consultation with the organization’s technology department, insurance agent and insurance company might be helpful. Finally, all policies will carry a deductible; the organization should select a deductible level that it can afford to pay and that will provide it with a meaningful discount on the premium. Once management has a thorough understanding of the coverages various policies provide in relation to the organization’s exposures, it can fairly compare the costs of the policies and make an informed choice.

Computer networks are a necessary part of any organization’s environment today. Loss prevention and reduction techniques, coupled with sound insurance protection at a reasonable cost, will enable an organization to get through a cyber loss event.

Contractors Professional Liability

By Construction Insurance Bulletin | No Comments

As a contractor, you design, build and repair homes and other structures. Purchase contractors professional liability insurance coverage to protect your assets.

What is Contractors Professional Liability?

In the 1990s, contractors professional liability coverage was introduced primarily for contractors who design and build projects. This insurance covers financial obligations associated with fixing an error or omission made by you or the subcontractors you hire.

What Does Contractors Professional Liability Cover?

Contractors professional liability insurance covers a variety of work-related circumstances, including:

  • Negligence by you or one of your hired subcontractors
  • Design errors caused by your or one of designers you hire
  • Faulty workmanship by you or one of your hired subcontractors
  • Cost overruns or delays caused by bad sequencing or lack of coordination

Additional coverage provided by contractors professional liability may include these options. Check your specific policy for details.

  • Pollution coverage for claims involving pollution from job-site activities, including failure to detect pollutants
  • Indemnity coverage if you must file a first-party claim against the project’s architect or engineer who is liable for the loss

What’s the Difference Between General and Professional Liability?

To ensure you purchase the right coverage for your business, understand the difference between general liability and professional liability.

General liability will cover bodily injury and property damage that occurs because of ordinary construction means and methods, including contract breaches. It’s definitely essential, but professional liability is important, too. It covers costs associated with damage that result from your failure to render professional services.

As an example, let’s say the handicap ramp you construct for a local business fails. You can only file a claim through your general liability policy if someone is injured or the property is damaged. Otherwise, you’ll need a professional liability policy to cover the cost of replacing the ramp.

How to Purchase Contractors Professional Liability

Purchase a contractors professional liability policy through your commercial insurance agent. You will want to purchase an annual policy based on your operational needs. Additionally, you may purchase a policy for specific projects especially if they’re extensive.

In most cases, you’ll want a true professional liability policy. You can add professional liability coverage as an endorsement or umbrella policy on your general liability policy, but it typically offers limited coverage that’s inadequate for your needs.

It’s important that as a contractor you understand your responsibilities for completing projects properly, on time and on budget. There are always risks in your industry, so purchase contractors professional liability insurance. It can pay for mistakes and protect your assets as you perform your job.

An Alert Driver is a Safe Driver

By Workplace Safety | No Comments

Going for a drive or riding in a car can be a relaxing experience, but drivers need to remain alert when behind the wheel. Although anyone could fall asleep while driving, certain target populations are more prone to having accidents because of falling asleep.

For instance, men are twice as likely as women to have an accident due to drowsiness. Teenagers, who love burning the candle at both ends, are another group with the potential to doze off while driving. In fact, teenagers and their 20-something counterparts are less likely to admit to being too fatigued to drive and will often get in the driver’s seat, even if they shouldn’t.

Naturally, there are work-related reasons that contribute to falling asleep while driving. Shift workers who work nights or rotating shifts often have trouble sleeping because their inner clock may be off kilter. Commercial drivers have an increased exposure to accidents as a result of driving during the late night and early morning hours when their biological clock tells them that they should be sleeping.

What can you do to help prevent yourself or a loved one from becoming a statistic? The best solution is a nap that lasts for about 20 minutes before you drive. Although many Americans do not allocate time for an afternoon rest, napping is a normal part of the human sleep-wake cycle. There is a biological tendency to fall asleep in mid-afternoon.

In certain parts of the world, mid-afternoon activities are brought to a halt so that people can take advantage of their natural tendency to sleep. This kind of nap that is taken before the afternoon work period begins is looked upon as a restorative activity, not idling away time that could be better spent doing other tasks.

Napping is even more important if your sleep is disturbed the night before, or you actually slept for fewer hours than your body requires. Napping the next day can help relieve your sleepiness and enhance your ability to remain alert.

The other factors to remember are that most sleep related accidents happen in non-urban areas, generally on roads with 55 mph-65 mph speed limits. When combining the restful quiet of a suburban setting with the steady pace of that speed limit, you have the makings of a situation in which a driver could easily be lulled into sleep. Also, the early morning hours are a particularly vulnerable time for drivers on extended runs.

The best remedy for these conditions is periodic rest stops in designated rest areas. Interrupting your driving for a 20-30 minute nap can make all the difference in restoring your alertness and your responsiveness. Avoid becoming a grim highway statistic. Take the time you need, and protect yourself and others on the road.

1,500 of Wasted Time on Busywork

By Employment Resources | No Comments

Work can be a life-draining affair.” Joseph Campbell

Effective time management is essential if you wish to be a successful HR executive — and have a life at the same time. According to CEO surveys, when HR professionals focus their time on administrative and compliance duties (positions in which one is particularly likely to say “no”) their companies don’t see them as being strategic partners to the business. The problem is that HR executives spend an average of only 25% of their time on strategic activities. From a career and company goals perspective, this is akin to orchestrating their own demise.

When I advise HR executives to manage their time more effectively by minimizing administrative and compliance activities, I get a variety of “reasons” why they don’t do so:

This simply has to get done.
Somebody has to do it.
I don’t have the time to delegate this right now.
There’s nobody else here to do it.
I’m not sure I would know how to delegate it properly.
I can’t manage the person to whom I delegated it.

These are all poor excuses that can block your career success.

Let’s think about some numbers. Suppose you spend an average of 10 hours a week managing payroll and other administrative tasks. Let’s say you earn $40 per hour (roughly $80,000 per year) and administrative tasks such as this are the least valuable work you do. In fact, it’s work that $20 an hour people can do. On the conservative side, every hour that you do this work, the company loses $20 an hour — which comes to $800 a month or $9,600 a year. If you put this same effort into doing $60 an hour strategic work instead, the company would gain $20 every hour — and you’d be in a far better position to ask for a raise.

Think about it: if you waste 10 hours a week for the next three years, that’s 500 hours this year, and 1,500 hours during the next three years of your life that you’ll never get back! What’s more, this waste will cost the company at least $30,000.

If you label your work as “A”, “B,” and “C” work, you should be spending 80% of your time on A Work, 20% on B work — and zero time on C work. Otherwise, you’re spinning your wheels.

C work basically wastes time completely. It’s nothing you can delegate; it’s just something you should stop doing. B work is administrative and can be delegated or outsourced — such as payroll and benefits administration. Focus on A work: What the business needs and what you want to get great at doing. A classic example would be training in a company that’s focused on technological advances.

To determine where your time is going — and should be going — use this checklist:

A-Level Activities:

  • Meeting with the executive team to understand their vision, mission, value, goals, etc.
  • Studying and understanding the company’s strategic plans, financials, succession plan, markets, branding, and other operations.
  • Identifying the critical human resource needs for this organization (surveys, observation, focus groups, interviews, etc.).
  • Input into the company’s overall compensation plan, including pay rates, incentives, bonuses, rewards programs, etc.
  • Creating strategic plans and processes for carrying out top objectives.
  • Developing training plans to support implementation.
  • Input into the company’s overall risk-management plan, including assistance with the purchase of benefit programs, Workers Comp insurance, Cyber Liability insurance, and Employment Practices Liability insurance (EPLI).
  • Creating systems for hiring, performance, retention and compliance.
  • Facilitating creativity, branding, suggestion systems, etc.
  • Implementing any other company strategic objectives to which you can provide input.

B-Level Activities:

  • Payroll and benefits administration.
  • Implementation of hiring, performance, retention and compliance systems.
  • HRIS management.
  • Delivery of training.
  • Creation of employee handbook and executive contracts.
  • Personnel files management.
  • Attendance, vacation, and leave management.
  • COBRA administration.
  • Compliance posters and handouts.

C-Level Activities:

  • Employee dramas.
  • Meetings that go nowhere.
  • Doing any $10-20/hour work.

Six Construction Site Dangers and Safety Precautions

By Risk Management Bulletin | No Comments

The construction industry employs millions of people on job sites across the United States. While the fatal injury rate is high for this industry, you can understand construction site dangers and steps that protect yourself, co-workers and pedestrians.

Fall Protection

Most of the construction site fatalities occur from falls. Unstable work surfaces and failure to use protective equipment contribute to this construction site danger.

The right equipment can prevent falls.

  • Use guardrails, safety nets, restraint systems and fall arrest systems.
  • Stand on an elevated platform or aerial lift.
  • Secure all scaffolding.
  • Inspect lifts regularly.
  • Clean debris, liquid and dirt off all ladders, lifts or scaffolding.
  • Observe maximum weight limits on ladders, lifts or scaffolding.

Cranes

The majority of crane accidents happen when the boom or load line connects with an overhead power line. Other dangers include getting struck by the crane or caught in its swing radius.

The crane should always be inspected before use. Only a qualified, experienced operator should run it, taking care to lift the recommended weight and watch for overhead wires. Never stand under the load, either.

Chemicals

Random chemicals around the construction site can cause burns, fires, explosions and respiratory problems.

Secure all chemicals safely. Maintain a Material Safety Data Sheet on all chemicals, and ensure all employees know where the MSDS are stored and how to read them. Train employees on the risks and proper use of those chemicals, too. They should also use protective gear and know how to access and use the spill kit.

Bodily Protection

Injuries to your head and unprotected eyes, face, hands and feet can cause disability or death.

Wear protective gear at all times, including safety glasses, gloves and steel toed, non-slip shoes. Remember to wear a hard hat and watch out for falling or fixed objects. You should also use caution when operating power tools.

Repetitive Motion

Operating the same tools over time or standing in one position all day can cause repetitive motion injuries and strains.

Take frequent breaks to protect yourself. Use proper posture or change positions frequently, too. You can also use less force as you do your job.

Electrical Safety

Any time you work around electrical tools or electricity, you’re in danger of electrocution.

Never bypass any device that protects you from electrical energy or climb near exposed wires. Always shut off the power before working on electrical circuits, too. Properly ground power tools, and inspect the cord for damage. If you use an extension cord, it should be certified for hard service.

Construction is a dangerous but important profession. Take these safety precautions as you prevent six construction site dangers.

Reduce Stress to Legs, Back and Neck at Work

By Risk Management Bulletin | No Comments

After several hours of sitting at your work desk, it’s finally time for your break. The moment you stand up for your break, you realize that your legs are numb, stiff, or just won’t work. This is a common scenario experienced everyday by a variety of desk workers. Not that being devoted or working hard is a negative thing, but it can be detrimental to the body if smart work habits aren’t employed.

When workers become immersed in their work, it’s often hours before they even realize that they haven’t moved their lower extremities. This type of prolonged motionless work might seem like something that would increase productivity, but it can lead to an array of health problems, such as obesity and stress. The resulting problems actually make for a less productive employee.

Obviously, the first smart work habit is to get up and stretch the lower extremities and get blood flowing again. Ideally, workers should get up from their desk every hour for just a few minutes. This can be accomplished simply by walking to the water cooler, bathroom, copier, or such.

The computer is a key source of bad work ergonomics and negative impacts on the health of workers. Experts suggest that computer monitors be positioned directly in front of and arms-length away from workers. To minimize any eye strain from glares on a computer monitor, it should be tilted slightly downward. The worker can help minimize eye strain by blinking frequently to keep the eyes moist. It might be necessary to focus from a different angle, such as by slightly tilting the head upward.

Likewise, the computer keyboard should be placed directly in front of workers. It should be positioned at a comfortable distance. Try the computer at a sloped and flat position to see what feels more comfortable. It might also be helpful to rest and relax the palms when not typing.

Now that the computer and keyboard are positioned properly, workers should make sure that their own body is in good alignment. Make sure that the feet are flat on the floor and the back is supported. A lumbar support may be helpful to support the back. Stores that sell ergonomic office supplies will have work equipment, such as a chair with the lumbar support or a lumbar support insert, that’s been designed scientifically for comfort and ease of use.

Workers who take care of their body at work will feel better at work and at home. Even with the tiny amount of time lost to stretching and ensuring proper body mechanics and equipment positioning, this worker will also ultimately be more productive.

Why Use a Risk Management Consultant?

By Risk Management Bulletin | No Comments

You face risks every day in real life and must decide if you’ll lock your house doors or buckle your seat belt. Your small business faces risks, too. Answer the question why use a risk management consultant as you successfully navigate your business risks.

Get Customized, Objective Advice

While all small businesses face risks, each business is different. A risk management consultant considers every aspect of your specific business from operations to technology without bias. They then create a customized, objective plan for your unique needs.

Identify Risks and Solutions

As a small business owner, you focus on producing widgets or baking cakes. You may not know all the risks you face. A risk management consultant will identify your risk and the solutions that address those risks.

Develop an Accurate Safety Plan

Safety must be one of your top priorities and is achieved when you follow an accurate safety plan. Your risk management consultant helps you develop a plan that fits your needs, and they will evaluate your plan regularly to ensure ongoing safety.

Evaluate Compliance

Your business must comply with a variety of federal, state and local policies or you could jeopardize your employees’ safety and face steep fines. Utilize your risk management consultant to ensure your company’s compliance.

Prepare for Inspections

Depending on your industry, you may undergo regular facility or quality control inspections. Be prepared to ace those inspections with assistance from your risk management consultant.

Improve Performance

Your small business may have a successful history, but you must plan for a successful future, too. Hire a risk management consultant to ensure your business continues on a course toward future success.

Navigate Change

The business world frequently changes, and you must change with it. Rely on your risk management consultant to stay updated about changes in consumer trends and technology. With their help, you stay current, trendy and successful.

Maximize Your Time

As a small business owner, you are responsible for every aspect of your company. You only have 24 hours in a day, though. A risk management consultant takes on this responsibility and frees you for other tasks.

Receive Ongoing Support

A risk management consultant helps you identify, handle and address risks now. However, this relationship also provides ongoing support as you continue to maintain compliance.

Why use a risk management consultant? Your small business gains nine key benefits that help you achieve success now and into the future.

 

Employee Benefits for Grocery Stores Employees

By Your Employee Matters | No Comments

As a grocery store employee, you expect to get a regular paycheck. However, you may also be eligible for a variety of employee benefits for grocery stores employees. Here’s a partial list.

Healthcare

Access a variety of healthcare options, including:

  • Medical insurance
  • Prescription drug coverage
  • Group vision and dental plan
  • Flexible Spending Accounts
  • Group life insurance
  • Short-term and long-term disability plan
  • Mental health and behavioral health care
  • Free flu shots

Education

Whether you work as a cashier, stocker or manager, you could be eligible for education assistance, including tuition reimbursement or scholarships. Your employer may also offer a mentorship program or leadership development courses taught by your grocery store corporate management team or other trainer.

Employee Assistance Program

If you face a personal emergency, take advantage of the employee assistance program. It can pay a personal bill or provide other assistance.

Some companies also offer assistance with child or elder care. You may also receive free or discounted legal consultations and financial planning.

Time Off

Enjoy paid vacation, sick and holiday time off. The amount of paid time off you receive depends on your employer, the number of hours you work and your specific benefits package.

Future Funding

Grocery stores like Publix give employee stock ownership. Your company may not offer a generous option like this, but do take advantage of their 401(k) retirement savings plan and matching funds.

Payday Perks

Every week or two, you’ll receive a paycheck. Opt into direct deposit in one or more checking or savings accounts, allowing you to customize your paycheck the way you want.

Other payday perks could include a free credit union membership where you can access higher than normal interest rates. Some companies also offer:

  • Quarterly bonuses
  • Annual holiday cash bonuses
  • Bereavement pay
  • Jury duty pay
  • Premium pay for overnight, weekend or holiday shifts

Miscellaneous Benefits

There are a variety of additional benefits that supplement your paycheck and offer personal and professional fulfillment. They include:

  • Service awards
  • Opportunities for advancement
  • Flexible work schedule
  • Holiday exchange (get the day off of your choice when you work on a holiday)
  • Discounts on local attractions or events
  • Adoption assistance
  • Discounts on home or auto insurance
  • Cellphone discounts
  • Gym membership
  • Free food or discounted groceries
  • Product tastings
  • Free uniforms and shoe allowance
  • Free parking
  • Annual review
  • Annual survey to give feedback to your supervisor

These are a few examples of employee benefits for grocery stores employees. Check with your particular employer as you take advantage of all the benefits you’re eligible to receive.

 

How to Hire the Best Employees

By Your Employee Matters | No Comments

Hiring the best employees means your business succeeds. Good hiring practices can also save you up to $50,000, the cost of finding, interviewing, training and equipping an employee. It can be challenging to choose the most qualified candidates, though.  Consider tips that show you how to hire the best employees.

    1. Capability

      In addition to easy jobs, the best employees tackle hard tasks that require effort, creativity and perseverance. Evaluate a potential hire’s willingness to learn, grow and take on additional responsibility as needed.

    1. Character

      In addition to skills, your employees must have a good character. They should be honest, truthful, selfless, a team player and respectful.

    1. Commitment

      Employees do occasionally move on to other jobs and careers, but you don’t want to hire a chronic quitter. Examine a candidate’s resume, job history and references for a pattern of commitment.

    1. Compatibility

      Your business culture is an important part of your success since employees work harder and smarter when they get along with each other. Be sure a potential employee is compatible with your existing employees, supervisors and clients before you hire them.

    1. Compensation

      When an employee receives the compensation they deserve, they feel appreciated and motivated to perform to the best of their ability. It’s always a good idea to double check that an employee candidate is comfortable with the compensation before you send an official job offer.

    1. Competency

      The best employees have the skills needed to do the job they’re assigned. Check education and experiences, too, as you ensure your new hire is competent for the position and duties.

How to Evaluate Potential Employees

During the interview process, an employee can create a persona that gets your attention. You have to comb through their application carefully to ensure you know exactly what kind of employee you’re getting.

First, read the cover letter. It gives you a good idea of the candidate’s passion, past performance and future potential.

Next, get creative during the interview. Applicants can easily rehearse traditional questions and hide their true potential, leaving you without a real look at their capabilities. Creative questions like, “How did your first job prepare you for this position?” can help you see a candidate truthfully and discern how they will act when faced with an unexpected challenge.

Finally, talk to former associates including supervisors, co-workers and subordinates. Discover the truth about how the candidate performed their job, treated others and stepped up to the plate.

To build a better company, you must know how to hire the best employees. Use these tips during your next hiring event to reveal the employees who will best help your company succeed.