February 23, 2018

Malicious cyber activity cost the U.S. economy between $57 billion and $109 billion in 2016, the White House Council of Economic Advisers estimated in a report on Friday.

The report quoted the U.S. intelligence community as saying the main foreign culprits responsible for much cyber activity against U.S. targets are Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

But it also said malicious cyber activity is not limited to foreign actors. Corporate competitors, activists seeking to advance a political agenda and organized crime are also responsible, it said.

The report said effective public- and private-sector efforts to combat the illicit activity would contribute to gross domestic product growth.

2018 is starting off with daily cyber attacks.  Is your business prepared? 

Source:  Reuters

February 19, 2018

Have you considered a career in insurance?  It's more than a job, it's more than "selling" -- it's about working with a client to provide them with the very best insurance coverage to meet their needs and mitigate their risks. It's a rewarding career. 

If you are interested in helping others to protect themselves from catastrophic loss, then we want to share our client experiences with you to see if the insurance industry is a good fit for you.

It's all about caring.

February 9, 2018

Throughout the coldest months of the year, winter flooding is a country-wide risk. 

What causes winter flooding?

Coastal flooding, ice jams, and rapid snowmelt cause water damage.  High winds cause wide-spread tidal flooding and severe beach erosion.  Strong winds cause water levels to rise and create storm surges. 

Long cold periods cause surface rivers to freeze, causing ice jams.  As these large junks of ice beak apart, they create severe flooding by significantly raising the water levels in a short period of time.

Because cold weather causes the ground to freeze, it is hard for water to penetrate the ground resulting in flooding.

So, consider a flood insurance policy before the big thaw occurs.  Remember, it takes 30-days for a flood policy take effect.

Call us today to find out more.

February 2, 2018

Today, we observe Groundhog Day!  According to USA Today - Punxsutawney Phil, the world's celebrity groundhog, was coaxed from his burrow in western Pennsylvania early Friday as an anxious nation watches to find out whether we'll have an early spring or six more miserable weeks of cold and snow.

Also, according to legend, if it's sunny and Phil sees his shadow, the scared groundhog returns to his burrow and the U.S. will endure six more weeks of winter. But if it's cloudy when the groundhog emerges on February 2, the critter won't see his shadow and will leave his burrow, meaning winter will soon end and an early start to spring is coming.

NOAA reports that since 1887 Phil has seen his shadow 103 times - 6 more weeks of winter - to 18 times not seeing his shadow which means spring is on the way.

Well, Phil saw his shadow and it looks like we're in for six more weeks of winter.   We have safety tips on our site to assist you in dealing with storms.

Happy Groundhog Day!

January 26, 2018

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. 

January 19, 2018

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.

January 12, 2018

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.

December 29, 2017

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.

December 14, 2017

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

December 8, 2017

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.

 

 

 

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