Smaller businesses have become targets for cybercriminals because criminals know they have fewer defense resources than large enterprises.

If cybercriminals can breach a small business and steal credentials (e.g. for banking accounts or email access), they can use that information to steal money directly, create attacks on its customers and work their way around the business ecosystem in other nefarious ways.

The 2016 State of Small & Medium-Sized Business (SMB) Cybersecurity report, independently conducted by Ponemon Institute, LLC, and sponsored by Keeper Security, surveyed 598 individuals in companies with 1,000 or fewer employees.  The survey revealed the following:

  • 50% of SMBs have been breached in the past 12 months.
  • The most prevalent attacks against SMBs are: web-based attacks, and phishing/social engineering.
  • Negligent employees or contractors and third parties caused most data breaches; however, almost a third of companies in this research could not determine the root cause.
  • Companies are most concerned about the loss or theft of their customers' information and their intellectual property.
  • Strong passwords and biometrics are believed an essential part of the security defense; however, 59% of SMBs have no visibility into employee password practices, such as the use of unique or strong passwords and sharing passwords with others.
  • Password policies are not strictly enforced.  65% of SMBs that have password policies say they do not strictly enforce them; moreover, the policies do not require employees to use passwords or biometrics to securely access mobile devices.
  • Current technologies cannot detect and block many cyber-attacks.  Most exploits have evaded intrusion detection systems and antivirus solutions.
  • Personnel, budget and technologies are insufficient to have a strong security posture.  As a result, some companies engage managed security service providers to support an average of 34% of their IT security operations.
  • Determination of IT security priorities is not centralized.  The two functions most responsible are chief executive officer and chief information officer; however, 35% of respondents say no one function in their companies determines IT security priorities.
  • Web and intranet servers are considered the most vulnerable endpoints or entry points to networks and enterprise systems.  The challenge of not having adequate resources may prevent many companies from investigating in the technologies needed to mitigate these risks.  Web application firewalls, security information and event management (SIEM), endpoint management and network traffic intelligence are not considered very important in current security strategy.  At a minimum, anti-malware and client firewalls are considered the most important security technologies.
  • Cloud usage and the prevalence of mobile devices that access business-critical applications and IT infrastructure will grow and threaten the security postures of companies in this study; however, only 18% of respondents say their companies use cloud-based IT security services.

This survey is courtesy of StaySafeOnline and its National Cyber Security Alliance.  Review each bullet point with your IT staff and see what safety practices you can put into place to protect your business. 

Flu season is here and flu viruses are often passed from person to person.  What can you recommend to your employees to prepare themselves and their workstations from these invisible bugs?  Read on.

Prevention Tips:

  • Wash your hands frequently for at least 15-20 seconds with soap or sanitizer
  • After washing, turn off the faucet with a paper towel
  • Dry your hands with a clean paper towel
  • Use a paper towel to open the bathroom door
  • Use hand sanitizer between washing
  • Avoid touching your face, eyes, or rubbing your nose.
  • Clean shared items such as phones, keyboards, handles and doorknobs with alcohol wipes or other sanitizer-type wipes.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has a cold or flu
  • Sneeze or cough into a tissue, throw the tissue away, wash your hands or use sanitizer
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Get lots of fresh air
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat healthy foods - grains, fresh fruits, vegetables
  • Don't smoke and decrease alcohol consumption

 Lastly, if you get sick and can do so, stay home to avoid spreading the flu to others.

As we start the new year, it is a great time to check the following devices to insure they are in top working order.

Fire Extinguishers
Make sure the pin is intact and tamper seal is unbroken.  Confirm the pressure gauge or indicator is in the operable range or position, make sure the extinguisher is full.

Fire Alarm/Co2  
Test your alarms and replace batteries

Dryer - Lint
Clean the duct out to the exterior wall to eliminate potential risk of fire.  Ongoing, empty out your lint filter after each use

Tamper Resistant Receptacles
Small Children - Install Tamper Resistant Receptacles

Ground Fault Interrupters
Install interrupters in kitchen, bathroom, laundry rooms and garage 

Appliances
Replace Appliances with worn, frayed, or damaged cords

Start the new year off right by putting these safety checks in place.

Heavy snow and violent winds break branches, uproot trees, and cause power outages.  Here are some items to put in an emergency kit so you are ready:

  • Flashlights
  • Radio for latest weather updates
  • Batteries
  • First Aid Kit
  • Blankets and Coats
  • Water

Here are some dos and don'ts from Property/Casualty 360:

Do

  • Wear layers to keep warm
  • Turn off and disconnect electronic appliances to avoid damage from power surges
  • Make sure you have venting to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning from back-up power and heating equipment
  • Fill your car with gas

 Don't

  • Run generators inside your home or in a closed garage
  • Consume food that hasn't been properly preserved
  • Burn charcoal or propane indoors
  • Use oven as a heat source
  • Leave heaters unattached

 Should you experience a loss, please contact us at the office or via our website.  Be safe and stay indoors.

On behalf of all of us at the agency we want to wish you a Happy New Year! Be careful this week-end when driving; and, if you are planning on drinking, please have a designated driver.

Let's all keep our roads safe and start the New Year off right.

The non-profit, World Against Toys Causing Harm, has released its 2017 list of the ten most hazardous toys. W.A.T.C.H. says consumers buying toys on the Internet are already at a disadvantage, as they are unable to touch and physically inspect a toy and its packaging at the time of sale for more obvious hazards. In some cases, limited product information on e-commerce sites can lead to misinformed, and potentially dangerous, consumer toy purchases.

Here's their list:

  • Briana Babydoll - potential hazard - choking
  • Jetts Heel Wheels - potential hazard - blunt impact and fire-related burn injuries
  • Oval Xylophone - potential hazard - ingestion and choking
  • Slackers Slackline Classic Series Kit - potential hazard - strangulation and fall-related injuries
  • NERF Zombie Strike Deadbolt Crossbow - potential hazard - eye injuries
  • Spider-man Spider-drone Official Movie Addition - potential hazard - eye and body impact injuries
  • Hand Fidgetz Spinners - potential hazard - choking injuries
  • Wonder Woman Battle-Action Sword - potential hazard - blunt force injuries
  • Pull Along Pony - potential hazard - cord measuring 19 inches rather than 12 inches which is the industry standard - no warning listed
  • Hallmark's "Itty Bittys" Baby Stacking Toy - potential hazard - choking injuries

Be careful when ordering toys online and carefully read the manufacturers warnings. 

Source: Property Casualty 360

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a Holiday Decoration Safety Tips Flyer and here are some tips to keep in mind as you decorate your home and business for the holidays:

Candles

  • Keep candles away from flammable decorations
  • Never leave them unattended
  • Always use non-flammable holders

Trimmings

  • Use non-combustible or flame-resistant materials
  • Wear gloves when applying spun glass/angel hair to avoid irritation
  • Avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food
  • Avoid glass or sharp, breakable ornaments

Fires

  • Remove all greens, paper or decorations from the fireplace area.
  • Make sure the flue is open
  • Use a screen in front of the fireplace at all times

Paper

  • Do not burn papers in the fireplace
  • Never place trimmings near open flames or electrical connections
  • Use materials labeled non-combustible or flame-resistant

Trees

  • Keep trees away from fireplaces, radiators and other heat sources.
  • Cut off two inches of the trunk to expose fresh wood for better water absorption
  • Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways
  • Use thin guy-wires to secure a large tree to walls or ceilings

Snow

  • Artificial snow sprays can irritate lungs if inhaled
  • To avoid injury, read instructions carefully

Lights

  • Check each strain for cracked sockets, frayed cords, or bare wires
  • Fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, houses, walls or other firm support to protect from wind damage
  • Use no more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree

Follow these tips to enjoy a safe holiday season.

With the holidays upon us, online shopping is predicted to increase 7 to 10%, or as much as $117 billion this season.  If you are among these online shoppers, here are a few safety tips to protect yourself from a cyber-crime.

  • Make sure the website is secure - that means sites with HTTPS.
  • Use secure passwords
  • Don't shop on public Wi-Fi networks
  • Use Pay Pal
  • Don't buy from websites you've never heard of
  • Check prices in another browser
  • Avoid public terminals
  • Beware of coupon scams offer free products or significant discounts - never divulge your social security number to any offer 

Follow these tips and be secure in your online holiday shopping.

Source: MAC blog and PC Magazine

Tomorrow is Veterans Day and all of us at the agency want to thank our veterans for their sacrifices in keeping our country safe.  We are the home of the free because of the brave.

Originally named Armistice Day, the day marks the end of World War I at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.  The holiday's name was changed to Veterans Day at the end of the Korean War to honor all veterans. 

Take a moment to remember our veterans.  While we don't know them all, we certainly owe them all

It's that time of year when we gain another hour's sleep by reverting to Standard Time.  Don't forget to turn your clocks back one hour Saturday evening. Standard time begins at 2:00 am on Sunday.

Daylight Savings Time was first conceived by Benjamin Franklin following his trip to Paris where Europeans were changing their clocks to enjoy more daylight in the morning.  DST also saves energy.  According to the Department of Transportation, DST trims the entire country's electricity usage by a small but significant amount, because less electricity is used for lighting and appliances.

Enjoy your extra hour sleep knowing you are saving energy.  Who would have thought?

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