One of the first things hackers do when they attempt to infiltrate computer systems is to try using any common or stolen passwords. And, if your employees aren’t careful to use effective passwords and change them regularly, both they and your business can be exposed to data breaches, phishing schemes and other costly cyber attacks.
Most people don’t manage their passwords effectively because of the misconception that strong passwords need to be long and difficult to remember. However, there are a few simple steps you can relay to your employees in order to ensure that passwords are both hard for hackers to figure out and easy to manage:
Build passwords around familiar phrases. Long passwords are harder for computer programs to guess, so using a long but familiar phrase, like a favorite song lyric or quote, is a great start to making a password.
Use a password management service. Many people write their passwords down on paper or in a word processor, but keeping them anywhere insecure makes it easier for hackers to access them. Instead, encourage your employees to use a reputable password management service to keep all of their login credentials safe. Contact us today for more resources that can help improve your cyber security, including our new “Employee Cyber Training – Passwords” video.
Every business goes through different cycles of profit and loss. This means that your risks and potential exposures are being affected similarly. At the same time, Commercial insurance coverage is also evolving and changing. Nothing in either your business or the insurance industry remains static. This is why you should re-evaluate your insurance coverage at least once a year. A regular insurance audit will help you plug any coverage holes that might impact your bottom-line severely should an unexpected loss occur.
Ask yourself: How much risk are we prepared to accept for our business? Essentially, anything that you are not prepared to take on needs to be covered by suitable insurance coverage. To measure the amount of risk in evaluating the insurance needs of your company, there are a number of key areas you need to examine — in conjunction with one of our knowledgeable insurance agents. The primary areas you should re-evaluate annually are:
General Liability. How much liability protection does your company currently require? The amount of coverage you had purchased previously was probably adequate at the time, but remember: Your business has changed since then and so has your liability exposure. What was suitable for your needs last year might no longer be sufficient if your company has grown and expanded. The larger your growth, the more you become exposed to potential, increased, and significant liability.
Property Insurance. Business property evaluations go up and down as commercial real estate values fluctuate. You could now be paying too little or too much for the necessary coverage. The same applies to your equipment, machinery, and your inventory. Adding or subtracting in these three areas, while factoring in appreciation or depreciation, can affect not only the premiums you pay, but also your overall Property insurance coverage in the event of a significant loss, such as a fire or natural disaster.
Workers Compensation. The premium you pay is largely dependent on the roles of each and every employee — from the shop floor to your managerial staff. If the roles of your personnel have changed relative to how your business has grown, shrunk, or evolved, then you need to re-evaluate these changes relative to the premium rate you pay for each worker. The premium cost changes and/or differences can be substantial.
Business Interruption Insurance. You might have enough insurance to get your business re-built and your equipment replaced in the event of a disaster, but did you also factor in your business operating expenses? Many companies neglect that part of the equation and fail to develop a disaster recovery plan. Even if your company has a plan, what about the vendors that are key to the survival of your business? Your own business might be fine, but in some other part of the state or country, a key manufacturer or supplier could get nailed. Did you know that you could extend your coverage to cover this circumstance, too?
Insurance Protection of Executives. The size of your company doesn’t matter. If you have employees, you can face claims for sexual harassment or wrongful dismissal. You might not have considered the need to purchase Employment Practices Liability insurance before, but if your company has grown, that expansion has increased your risk to potential claims. Similarly, if you sponsor a 401(k) plan for your employees, and its performance has not met expectations or an employee feels the investment was mismanaged, do you have adequate Directors & Officers Liability to handle such claims?
Summary. To safeguard your business from potential risk, an annual insurance audit is a must. You might discover that changes in your business might have exposed you to new risks. Likewise, insurance premiums are a significant expense, and you might find that you are paying too much or covering exposures that are no longer relevant.
Two new web tools created by the Noble Research Institute will allow cattle producers to easily access Oklahoma cattle auction data. The tools include a price slide table and market charts.
PRICE SLIDE TABL
The first web tool is a breakdown of the price slide (PS) and value of gain (VOG) for the reported markets. The PS and VOG tool looks at the sales receipts for the selected market, as well as frame size, gender, yield grade and the sale date to give producers a glimpse at the type of cattle buyers are looking for.
Cattle with notes about their features aren’t included in the table in order to prevent the PS and VOG from being affected. However, a link to the original USDA-AMS report is provided near the top of the page for producers who want more details and to see where the original data was taken from.
The second web tool is a set of charts for slaughter, feeder and replacement cattle. The tool offers an option to compare each group across whichever markets the user selects, either during a specific year or across years.
The auction comparison tool was designed to provide producers with information to help them in their marketing and purchasing options. By comparing years, producers can better evaluate how the current year is stacking up against previous years for a particular market.
On June 21, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state governments can collect sales taxes from online retailers, even if a retailer doesn’t have a physical presence in the state. Until this decision, states could only collect taxes from online retailers that had in-state headquarters or another significant connection to that state.
This decision should benefit brick-and-mortar businesses, as sales taxes often forced them to increase prices—making it difficult to compete with the lower prices offered by online retailers. The court’s ruling also said that states should benefit from the decision by gaining access to a new source of tax revenue, estimated to be $33 billion annually across all states and online businesses.
Although critics of the ruling believe that consumers will face higher prices when shopping online, others think that increased competition between online and physical storefronts will cancel out any significant increases.
The ruling has already had a significant impact on the stock values of some major retailers. However, it’s still unclear how small retailers that have an online presence will be affected, and whether states will alter their tax collection practices to account for the size of an online retailer.
For more information on state-specific compliance, contact Scurich Insurance today.
OSHA Proposes New Rule to Ensure Crane Operators are Qualified
Although cranes are indispensable on many construction sites, they require a large amount of training and expertise in order to operate safely. As a result, OSHA recently proposed a rule to ensure crane operators are qualified to operate equipment.
The proposed rule’s main provisions would clarify certification requirements and reinstate an employer’s duty to ensure employees are qualified:
- Certification categories would change to let more operators meet OSHA requirements
- A requirement for operator certifications to include crane lifting capacity would be discontinued
- Employer requirements for ensuring crane operators have sufficient training, certification and licensing would be extended and clarified
OSHA also published a final rule extending the operator certification compliance date until Nov. 10, 2018, to address employer concerns related to the cranes and derricks in construction standard.
For more information on the proposed rule, see OSHA’s full publication in the Federal Register.
There are a number of hazards that could affect your home while you’re away, including lightning, theft and flooding. In order to keep your property safe while you’re on vacation, consider the following:
- Unplug small appliances and electronic devices.
- Stop the newspaper and mail. To do this online, visit the U.S. Postal Service’s website.
- Lock all windows and doors.
- Arrange to have your lawn mowed or snow shoveled while you’re away.
- Have a neighbor keep an eye on your home throughout your trip.
- Remove any house keys you keep outside your home, even if you think they’re in a safe place.
- Set timers on inside lights. Install a motion-activated sensor on outdoor floodlights.
- Consider turning off your home’s water.
- Avoid posting photos of your trip on social media until after you return home.
- Raise the temperature on your thermostat or turn the system off completely. This ensures that you aren’t paying to cool your home while you’re away.
Taking the proper precautions before you go on vacation can make all the difference when it comes to preventing damage to your home. However, accidents can still occur, and it’s important to ensure you have adequate insurance coverage. Contact Scurich Insurance to learn more.