Performance Thinking

Expert information and solutions for your business.

Protect Your Business from Cyber Extortion

When a technology company was hit by a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack by a hacker who had gained control of one of its critical control panels, it was asked to be paid in exchange for returning control to its operations. The company chose not to comply with the extortionists and instead worked to recover its account by changing passwords. Unfortunately, the hackers had created backup logins to the panel and started randomly deleting files once they saw the company’s actions. This example of cyber extortion, unfortunately, put the company out of business.

Extortion as a result of a cyber attack is becoming more and more common for all business types and sizes. One reason for the increase in incidents is that end-user software like Cryptolocker has commoditized the malware industry, making it accessible to a wider variety of criminals and less-skilled hackers.

Cyber criminals, for the purposes of extortion, can threaten to shut down computer systems or erase data, infect a company with a virus, publish private information or personally identifiable information on customers or employees, institute a denial-of-service attack or take over social media accounts. 

Businesses can take the following steps to help protect against cyber extortion:

1.  Know your data. A company cannot fully know how much is at risk until they understand the nature and the amount of data they have.

2.  Create file back-ups, data back-ups and backup bandwidth capabilities. These actions will help a company to retain its information in the event that extortion occurs.

3.  Train employees to recognize spear phishing. All employees should learn the importance of protecting the information they regularly handle to help reduce exposure to the business.

4.  Do background checks on employees. Background checking employees can help identify whether they have criminal pasts.

5.  Limit administrative capabilities for systems and social footprint. The fewer employees with access to sensitive information, the better.

6.  Ensure systems have appropriate firewall and antivirus technologies. After the appropriate software is in place, evaluate the security settings on software, browser and email programs. In doing so, select system options that will meet your business needs without increasing risk.

7.  Implement data breach prevention tools, including intrusion detection. Ensure employees are actually monitoring the detection tools. It is important to not only try to prevent a breach, but to make sure that if a breach occurs, the company is aware as soon as possible. Time is of the essence.

8.  Update security software patches in a timely manner. Regularly maintaining security protections on your operating system is vital to them being effective over time.

9.  Include DDoS security capabilities. It is important to have the ability to avoid or absorb attacks meant to overwhelm or degrade your systems.

10.  Put a plan in place to manage a data breach. If a breach occurs, there should be a clear protocol outlining which employees are part of the incident response team and their specific roles and responsibilities.

11.  Protect your business with insurance coverage designed to address cyber risks. Cyber insurance coverage typically provides protection for costs associated with data breaches and cyber extortion events. Insurance programs can also provide access to skilled professionals to manage the event from start to finish.

To learn more about cyber risks and how you can protect your business, contact a Scott Risk Advisor today.


Content above is courtesy of Travelers.  © 2017 The Travelers Indemnity Company.

The Healthcare Landscape – Part One The Pharmacy Problem: Dealing With the Dramatic Increase in Pharmacy Costs

Last month, Scott Benefit Services hosted the Business North Carolina 2017 Health Care Round Table in Greensboro.  Sean Willoughby-Ray, Benefits Practice Lead/Vice President, along three other healthcare industry professionals representing Premier Inc., The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, shared insights into the future of healthcare in North Carolina and the impact on the state’s economy.

The video below is the first in a three-part series that we will share in the coming weeks highlighting the discussions from the roundtable event.  In this video, Sean Willoughby-Ray and Mitch Perry, Senior VP and CFO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, discuss some of the issues surrounding the dramatic increase in pharmacy costs, especially specialty medications.   

With pharmacy costs expected to account for up to 50% of an employer’s healthcare spend within the next five years, employers must focus on their pharmacy benefit challenges today.  Contact Scott to discover how we can help you take control of your organization’s health risks and better manage your medical and pharmacy spend.

NMLS Electronic Surety Bonds Adopted By More State Regulatory Agencies

Since Electronic Surety Bonds (ESBs) were launched by the National Multistate Licensing System and Registry (NMLS) in September 2016, many professionals in the mortgage and financial services industries are now required to use ESBs.   Thankfully, this process is much more convenient and efficient than traditional paper surety bonds.

With the addition of the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation later this week (April 15, 2017), 22 state agencies across the country will have adopted ESBs. To view the complete list of states that have adopted the ESB process, view the ESB Adoption Map and Table, which also includes a detailed listing of which types of licenses are required to utilize ESBs in each state. Examples of licenses now utilizing the NMLS Electronic Surety Bonds process include:

•  Mortgage Brokers/Lenders/Servicers
•  Money Transmitters
•  Debt Management/Collection Agencies
•  Check Cashiers
•  Consumer Finance Lenders

In addition to new applicants, existing licensees must convert their paper bonds to ESBs by the conversion deadline listed for each state.

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AHCA Pulled Prior to Vote, ACA Remains

Healthcare Reform

Around 3:30 p.m. on Friday House Speaker Paul Ryan came to the conclusion that the GOP didn’t have the votes in the House of Representatives to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and pulled it off the floor prior to a vote. 

This outcome came after a very tumultuous three weeks for the AHCA legislation, including multiple amendments, a CBO score that showed 24 million more people would be uninsured under the law, and what was perceived as rushed committee mark-up meetings and votes to keep the legislation moving forward.

In a prepared statement late Friday, Speaker Ryan acknowledged that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the “law of the land for the foreseeable future.”  Lawmakers have differing opinions as to how quickly they will resume efforts to repeal and replace the ACA, but most think it will not be an immediate priority.

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OSHA Final Rule: Walking-Working Surfaces & Personal Fall Protection Systems

OSHA Final Rule

OSHA has issued its final rule on Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Fall Protection Systems to better protect workers in general industry from slip, trip and fall hazards. The final rule updates and clarifies standards and adds training and inspection requirements. The final rule became effective on January 17, 2017; however, OSHA is allowing delayed or phased-in compliance dates for several requirements in the final rule. States with OSHA-approved state plans have six months to adopt standards that are at least as effective as Federal OSHA standards. Many state plans adopt standards identical to OSHA, but some state plans may have different or more stringent requirements. 

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