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.

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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Safety Improvements For Petroleum Marketers

Petroleum Tanker Truck

Each year, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) releases a list of their “Most Wanted” safety improvements. The 2017-18 list includes several recommended improvements that are directly related to the work of petroleum marketers.

In my experience working with multiple petroleum marketers, I have seen the negative business impacts that a work-related accident or injury can create. Implementing these recommendations from the NTSB can improve your risk performance and, ultimately, your bottom line. 

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Disaster Recovery Planning Considerations

Natural disasters can come in many forms, with the most common being related to windstorms, fires and flooding. More tornadoes occur in the United States than in any other part of the world. While large-scale disasters capture media attention, disasters can also be local in nature, such as electrical blackouts from lightning strikes or a vehicle collision with a power line. Such events can cause significant disruption to your operations.

With proper planning, downtime and loss of revenue can be kept to a minimum and operations quickly restored. A formal disaster recovery plan is critical to ensure continual operations for your business, and should incorporate the following elements: 

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Affordable Housing Insights A Unique Industry Providing Real Solutions for Communities

Affordable Housing Apartment Building

Over the last several years, I have had the privilege of helping manage the risk of several organizations working to provide affordable housing options for low-income households. This experience has given me great insight into the unique aspects of this complex industry, as well as a passion to advocate for the organizations and individuals working in this space.

The Need for Affordable Housing is Increasing

Today’s demand for rental properties of all types is unprecedented. According to a 2015 study by the Joint Center For Housing Studies of Harvard University, 37 percent of all U.S. households are now renters – the highest level since the mid-1960s. The study also reveals that the largest and fastest growing segment of the exploding rental market is comprised of households earning less than $25,000 annually.   And while the number of renter households rose 40 percent from 2003-2013, the number of low-cost rental units increased by just 10 percent. It is clear that the need for more affordable housing is great. 

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