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15 Ways Businesses Can Protect Themselves from Data Theft
Digital and computer theft is big business. And the criminals are getting more and more sophisticated every year. According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, digital crooks now account for $3.5 trillion in annual losses worldwide. Businesses must protect their data from exposure to theft or leakage both from inside and outside the company. Countermeasures must include both cybersecurity measures and measures against physical theft, or physical security.
Here are some of the best ways your company can protect itself and your valuable data from compromise, destruction or theft.
Don't let employees have unrestricted admin privileges over your servers. Retain permissions with an officer of the company - preferably someone with a real stockholder's interest in the firm. In one recent case a company let an IT Director go. But the IT director changed all the passwords, and wouldn't tell the company what the new passwords were unless they paid him a fee of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The company was dead in the water, locked out of its own data. Meanwhile, the former employee could have sold all kinds of data to criminals if he wanted to. The company was both crippled and dangerously exposed.
Keep software updated regularly. Cyberthieves are constantly exploiting vulnerabilities in software and operating systems to breach computer systems and steal data. Software manufacturers are constantly updating to eliminate vulnerabilities. But they can't help you if you don't download the latest patches, fixes and software updates. Update every week, as a minimum. Turn on automatic updates.
Invest in employee training. Train employees to recognize 'spearphishing' and other online ploys to trick them into entering passwords. Train them not to key in sensitive data, such as a password, if there is no encryption on the page (e.g., an https:// prefix or a 'padlock' icon in the browser URL window).
Do a full inventory of sensitive information. Do you know exactly where it is stored? Who has access? Some servers or storage devices may have to be kept under lock and key, with strictly controlled access. If possible, disconnect them from the network when you don't need them. If you cannot completely seal these servers off from network access, concentrate IT security attention on these assets. Back up the sensitive data offsite, or to the Cloud, where it is very difficult for an employee to steal a backup disk or tape.
Encrypt sensitive data. If you properly encrypt data, even if you get breached, the information is useless to the data thieves and your sensitive information is still protected.
Use SSL (secure socket layer) or similar secure connections for all sensitive financial transactions, including credit card payments and other transfers.
Employ several security layers, from spam filters to firewalls.
Recognize the threat from employee-owned devices. Employees may routinely plug in their own cell phones and tablets into company USB ports - and can then easily download anything they have digital access to at their workstations. Consider disabling USB ports and draw up appropriate policies restricting connecting personally-owned devices to workstations that have access to sensitive data.
Scan all new devices before they are attached to your general network.
Consider providing employees with company-owned devices that can be retrieved when the employee leaves service. Otherwise you could have sensitive information loose on employee-owned mobile devices when they are no longer even employees. They could even be working for your competition!
Don't let employees download unauthorized programs. Centralize control of apps and software downloads with your IT professional or designated expert. Otherwise, employees may inadvertently download programs containing spyware or malware.
Consider storing all data in the Cloud, rather than onsite. This eliminates the risk of physical theft from anyone in your organization (though you must still protect passwords, etc.). Do not allow data to be stored directly on mobile devices, which are easily lost or stolen. Have devices draw sensitive data from the Cloud, not from their own memory chips.
Change passwords and access privileges whenever someone leaves the company. This includes door lock codes as well as network access.
Be careful with wireless networks in the office. They make things easy on employees - but they also make things easy for data thieves, who don't even have to be in the building to log on to your network. A disgruntled former employee could do it sitting in a car outside - and do a lot of damage - if you have a wireless network in your office. If you choose to have a wireless office, you should take extra actions to segregate sensitive data from general access.
Don't collect data you don't need. If you have excess data that you don't need to store, erase it, permanently.
Why People Hire Attorneys For Auto Insurance Claims
In a recent study regarding auto insurance injury claims, about 50 percent of participants who filed claims had to hire attorneys for assistance. The survey was set up as a poll. However, most people did not seek help from an attorney because they had a bad experience with the claims process.
Only about 15 percent of the respondents said that they experienced delays or other problems with the claims process. Another 10 percent of participants said that they talked to attorneys because they were dissatisfied with the amount offered by the insurer as a settlement. The most common reason for contacting a lawyer was because people received suggestions from friends, doctors or relatives to do so. More than 30 percent did so because a friend or a family member recommended it, and a little more than 15 percent did so because a doctor recommended it. About 20 percent of the respondents said that they contacted an attorney because they wanted to get the highest possible settlement.
There were other findings in the survey that led researchers to see that other factors influenced the claimants' minds. About 65 percent of claimants reported contacting a lawyer at the beginning of the claims process, which shows that their purpose for doing so was not related to an unfair settlement or problems with the process itself. Also, only about 30 percent of those who said that they were satisfied with the insurer's handling of the claim hired an attorney.
Experts said that the common misconception of attorney involvement in the claims process being related to the insurer has important implications since attorneys can be expensive to retain or pay by the hour. They hoped that publishing the results of this survey would put minds everywhere at ease. The poll-style survey was administered online under the request of the IRC by GFK Public Affairs and Corporate Communications. There were 27,126 participants, and the survey was conducted in June and July 2016. More than 500 participants responded to follow-up questions about the claims process when they hired private lawyers and the results were compared to the population of adults who were 18 or older in the United States.
When an accident happens, it is important to contact an agent immediately. Lawyers are often recommended if there were injuries and the other party was at fault. However, an insurance agent is a personal advocate throughout the claims process. To learn more and to be properly prepared, talk to an agent.
What Homeowners need to Know to Protect themselves and Properties from Burglars
Residential burglars rob people not only of their tangible possessions but also their peace of mind an sense of feeling secure in their own homes. Throughout the United States in 2012, the Federal Bureau of Investigation estimated there were about 1.6 million burglaries. Of those incidents, more than 65 percent occurred during day hours. This is because many people are usually away from home during the day on weekdays. With proper theft prevention strategies and devices, Americans can lower the likelihood of being victimized in a home burglary. There are several loss control methods that will help reduce the chances of being a victim of a home burglary.
Keep the property well lit. Keeping plenty of lights on at night is a good way to deter would-be burglars. It is good to leave one or two lights on in the house, and install a motion-sensor light on larger areas such as back and front yards. People who plan to leave lights on all night without motion sensors may consider investing in timers.
Ask a neighbor to watch the property. When away from home during the day, ask a neighbor to check on the property frequently. Also, ask neighbors to clear newspapers and fliers away from fences and walkways while on vacation. Burglars who see these things piled up will know that nobody is home.
Purchase a burglar alarm with a central monitoring station. Experts say that homes lacking burglar alarms are three times as likely to be break-in targets as homes with alarms. When a burglar knows a home has an alarm, he or she is less likely to attempt to break in. Putting signs and stickers in visible places is a good way to alert trespassers that the home is secure. Most companies offering monitoring services for burglar alarms also provide stickers or signs.
Use property identification programs. These programs are designed to protect expensive personal effects. Stereos, computers, televisions and other items can be imprinted with the owner's driving license number. This makes it hard for criminals to sell the items, which will register as stolen. They will be unable to pawn the property, and the identification system makes it more likely that stolen property will be recovered.
Reinforce windows and doors. Experts say that any exterior doors should be thick and made of solid wood or metal. Composite material is also acceptable if it is solid. It is better to put three-inch screws on strike plates, because the standard ones are only a fraction of that size. Smaller screws will make the strike plate come loose easier if the door is kicked hard. All doors should have deadbolt locks, and there should be a throw of at least one inch as well as reinforced strike plates.
Also, it is smart to keep the garage door locked and secure even while at home. Many people leave their garage doors wide open, and not all burglars will target only locked homes. It is smart to leave doors locked while at home. Burglars will often come through open doors and gates. They may or may not assume someone is home. Since some are armed, it is better to avoid such confrontations. Safety should always be paramount for every family. To learn more about these issues, insurance for high-end items or changing a policy, discuss concerns with an agent at 314-351-HALO(4256).
Annuitization and Types of Annuities
Annuitization happens when an annuity is divided into several payments over a period of time. The process may last for a specified period or for the duration of the annuitant's life, and payments may be made to the annuitant or a surviving spouse. Annuity payments are calculated based on a person's life expectancy, current age and a projected interest rate. If the annuitant does not have a surviving spouse, the life insurer that issues annuity payments holds the remaining balance. These are some important related terms to learn.
An annuitant may be a person or a group of people depending on the type of product. This is who collects the benefits, and the annuitant is named in a specialized life policy.
Whole Life Annuity Due
This financial product is offered by some insurance companies, and it stipulates that annuity payments must be made at the start of annual, quarterly or monthly periods instead of at the end of a period. The insurance company retains any remaining balance after the annuitant's death.
Certain And Continuous
This form of annuity offers a guaranteed number of payments. When the annuitant dies before the total number of payments have been distributed, the payments continue. A named beneficiary will receive the remaining payments. One benefit about this type of annuity is that the annuitant will still receive payments if he or she outlives the payment term. However, a beneficiary can only receive payments until the total limit has been reached.
During this phase, payments are made to the annuitant. Payments are typically made on a monthly basis. They are distributed throughout the annuitant's entire life. If an investor uses this type of annuity and retires, the income is considered taxable.
Guaranteed Minimum Income Benefit
Annuitants can buy this option for retirement. After the annuitization process, the annuitant receives payments up to a minimum value. The minimum value is established beforehand.
This annuitization method involves the annuitant choosing a period for payment distribution. With this form of arrangement, the annuitant will only receive payments for the specified period and will not receive additional benefits if he or she outlives the established period.
With this method, an insurance company offers a typical annuity with regular payments for the life of the annuitant. The payments are guaranteed by the insurer. Payment amounts still provide for the insurer's profit margin.
This product guarantees payments of a specific amount for a specified time period. When the term is over, the payments end. The payment amounts cannot be altered during the distribution period. Annuitants do not receive additional payments if they outlive the distribution period. This type of product can be purchased with regular payments or a lump sum.
Joint And Survivor Annuity
With this insurance product, the annuitant receives payments for his or her entire life. There must be two annuitants on the policy. When one dies, the other receives regular income for his or her entire life.
One type of annuity may be ideal for a person's individual needs but not ideal for another person's needs. To learn more about these products and which options are best for individual needs, ask an agent today 314-351-HALO(4256).