6 Tips to Protect Your Business from Identity Theft

Identity theft is becoming an increasing concern for people, with major data breaches becoming a normal part of our daily news cycle. In fact, it is safe to say that your information is probably somewhere out in the void, just waiting for somebody to pick it up and start using it. This is not an exaggeration, this is just the unfortunate reality we have to deal with today.

As a business owner, you are most likely to be targeted by potential identity thieves not as an individual, but as a source. Your databases can be breached leaving all of your customers vulnerable, and putting your face on the news in a way you never wanted. To help protect your business from being targeted for identity theft, we offer six easy solutions to safeguard your company and your customers.

Secure Your Computer Infrastructure

Having a strong firewall and running anti-virus on a regular basis will save your company potential damage. There is an endless arms race running between security companies and hackers every second, and patches to anti-virus software are the only way for us to keep up. Failing to update your anti-virus is like refusing to cancel a lost credit card: you’re just asking for somebody to steal from you.

Change Passwords Regularly

Breaking into an account takes time, but it can be done. If you have been using the same password for the past five years that is more than enough time for somebody to have used brute force to figure out what it is. Adopt a policy of changing passwords at least once every three months, and do not use the same password in more than one place. This will foil brute force attempts to steal information. Require the same routine of your staff as well!

Compartmentalizing Customer Information

The information of your customers should remain on a need-to-know basis at all times. Identity thieves will often exploit your staff to attempt to pull customer information from them. Ensure that your staff only has the bare minimum customer information they need to do their job: they can’t reveal what they don’t know after all. Using identity verification techniques that minimize the exposure of confidential information ensures that the cause of identity theft is not somebody who works for you. Third-party identity verification services such as Cognito can help limit exposure to sensitive information.

Use Dedicated Devices

Do not let employees use their own devices for work related purposes. While employees mean well, their personal devices could be compromised in ways you cannot account for. So, make sure you have a clear distinction between work devices and personal devices. If an employee needs to work from home, the best option is to provide a device for them to use for work. At work, having a dedicated terminal for sensitive functions (like banking) will limit that terminal’s exposure to viruses and other ways to compromise it.

Educate Your Employees

The weakest link in any security arrangement is the human link. Educating your employees on proper security protocols can help reduce your business’s risk. Education is not perfect, but instilling a culture of good security practices will go a long way towards safeguarding your employees and customers from theft.

Insurance

If all else fails – making sure you have good insurance will protect your business from the fallout. No matter how much you work to protect your customers, a few will inevitably fall through the cracks. Having insurance will allow you to make it right with your customers without destroying your business.

Protect Your Customers, Protect Your Business

Remember that identity theft is, for the most part, preventable. While you cannot do anything about other companies that fail in their obligations, you can do something about your business. Following these steps will protect both yourself and your customers from the perils of identity theft and fraud.

5 Ways to Keep Your Employees Safe at Work

As a business owner, your employees are perhaps your most valuable assets. Any entrepreneur worth his salt knows that to please his customers, he must first address the happiness of his team – making sure workers are healthy, safe, and fulfilled in their roles.

When it comes to give and take, it’s not enough to provide extra holiday or bonuses to compensate hard work. As an employer, it is your duty to look after your workers, but above-par health and safety regulations will also benefit your business, so it’s worth going the extra mile. With this in mind, here are five ways to keep your employees safe at work.

Be Prepared

With the humdrum normality of everyday life in the office, it’s easy to think that your workplace is immune to danger. The reality is, none of us expect natural disasters or crime, and yet those unfortunate events still happen. The best way to protect your business is to prepare for the worst. Know that a break-in, cyber attack, or other crime could befall your workplace at any time, and have a written plan of action ready.

Follow Preventative Measures

Many people only install burglar alarms or extra locks after a burglary, so stay ahead of the game and prevent one happening in the first place. We often hear about the importance of data security, but it’s easy to forget that leaving your office building vulnerable to intruders puts real people at risk. If in doubt, contact your local law enforcement officials and ask them to run a risk assessment on your premises. Once you’re aware of your vulnerabilities, you can set about sealing the cracks in your defense.

Safeguard Your Vehicles

If your employees use vehicles for work, make sure they are regularly inspected, and that security measures are in place to protect their belongings. If you own three or more company vehicles, consider taking out fleet car insurance to reduce your overall expenses without compromising on complete coverage.

Check In With Your Employees

People are unpredictable, and you can never truly know what’s going on under the surface. Violent behavior often masquerades under a guise of normality until something provokes an outburst; so keep a close eye on each member of your team. If you run a large-scale business, make sure your managers are checking in with their employees regularly and keeping tabs on their mental health.

Follow Health and Safety Requirements

It goes without saying that you should follow health and safety requirements in your workplace, but during busy periods it’s easy to let your standards slip. Make sure your employees and managers are abiding by workplace safety rules, and arrange for regular inspections to make sure no one is cutting corners. It never hurts to be over-prepared, so talk to a workplace safety expert to ensure you have the appropriate measures in place.

Without the people who show up day after day, your business simply would not run. Therefore, it makes sense from a financial point of view (as well as a moralistic one) to keep your employees safe at work.

StrategyDriven Risk Management Article

What to Do if Your Business is Involved in an Accusation

StrategyDriven Risk Management Article
As with all things in life, a business can sometimes become involved in things that can lead to serious actions. As a business owner, you will be doing all you can to ensure that your company is working on the law and following all the codes of conduct. However, sometimes incidents can happen that lead to direct or indirect accusations against your company. If your business or someone working for you has been accused of a criminal offense, then here are a few things you can do to try and resolve the situation.

Where Does the Accusation Originate?

If you do receive information about an accusation, you need to know where the accusation originates. If it is coming from the police, then you need to make sure your company is open to them conducting an investigation. If it has come from an anonymous source or it is something someone has overheard, you need to keep detailed records of all the information. It may mean that you need to keep the source of the information if you have it and try to identify what the accusation relates to in the company.

How Does the Accusation Involve the Company?

The police will tell you if they know how the accusation involves your company. It will determine how you proceed and what actions you need to take. If the accusation involves a worker in your company, then they will likely be spoken to by the police. It might be the best procedure to suspend the employee pending the investigation to protect your company and other employees. If the accusation is against the company for safety for example, then you will need to make all safety records available to those investigating. It is also a good time to speak to your lawyer such as Powers McCartan, who can help to advise and deal with any legal issues on your behalf.

How It Could Affect Your Production

Determining the type of accusation is vital to know how it will impact on your company. If it involves one worker, then it could be that the incident wasn’t related to the company itself. If, however, it involves a process or a product that your company has produced, you will need to think about whether you need to stop production or remove a product from your stock.

Be Open About the Accusation

There can be more harm than good to try and deny the accusation, especially to your staff. It is important that you are open and honest about what is happening to stop rumors and uncertainty. If a certain individual is involved, then the police might ask that specifics are not disclosed. However, by being as open an honest as you can about any accusation, you are helping to preserve the reputation of your company and prevent false information from being circulated.

These types of problems are never easy to deal with, but if you can remain open and honest about what has happened, then you can quickly seek to resolve the issues.

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a lawyer and this article should not be considered legal advice. You should seek appropriate counsel for your own situation.

What it means to be Bonded, Licensed, and Insured

Service companies and contractors usually mention that they are “bonded, licensed, and insured” when they advertise their services. Many customers often read these terms but most often than not, they do not know exactly what they mean or may interchange one for another.

When companies claim that they are bonded, licensed, and insured, it tells us that they are committed to giving their best and most valuable service to their customers. These are minimum requirements that service companies should meet, so if a certain company does not comply, it puts its credibility into question.

As customers, it is important to know whether a company is bonded, licensed, or insured. For instance, it is part of the list that the homeowner should keep in mind before hiring a home contractor. What does it take to be bonded, licensed, or insured? Here is a complete explanation on each one.

Insured

A company is insured when they have coverage just in case of accidents or any other untoward incidents on the job. The insurance usually covers the damage up to the amount of the coverage limit.

There are several types of insurance coverage that companies can avail of. General liability insurance protects the company against lawsuits and usually covers bodily injury, personal injury, and property damage. Generally, liability insurance includes coverage just in case someone gets hurt or injured on the job.

It is also important for independent home contractors to show their clients proof of coverage. For instance, contractors insurance at next-insurance.com covers general liability for contractors such as handymen, HVAC technicians, carpenters, electricians, landscapers, janitors, drywall installers and concrete workers.


The type of insurance that a company gets depends on their type of business. Most businesses usually have property insurance, workers’ compensation insurance and commercial auto insurance.

Bonded

When a company is bonded, it means that a separate entity has secured money that a customer can claim in the event that they need to file a claim against the company. A bond will also protect the client because it pays them in case of poor or negligent performance of the service. This covers incomplete and sub-standard work. It also protects the customer when the company or contractor fails to meet other financial obligations, like paying sub-contractors or materials. The secured money is independently managed and it is not controlled by the company. In other words, a bond is an amount of money that is set aside just in case something happens.

Businesses usually apply for either a commercial, contract, or court bond. Once approved, they sign an indemnity agreement and pay the premium. When a company is bonded, it tells customers that it is well-funded just in case any untoward incident occurs.

Licensed

Each U.S. state requires certain professions and businesses to be licensed before they operate. Federal licenses and permits are also needed for certain businesses. This is especially applicable to industries that have something to do with transportation and logistics, fish and wildlife, radio and television broadcasting, alcoholic beverages and other industries that could threaten life or may have consequences on a nationwide scale if not properly operated.


Certain professions require a license in order to conduct business and perform a certain type of work in a certain state or locality. There are regulated professions that need to meet legal requirements. These professions include dentistry, accounting, cosmetology, residential painting, and others. A license is necessary in order to show the service provider’s competence. You can check the performance history of any professional through the Better Business Bureau. All you need is their license number.

Customers should do due diligence and check if the company or contractor that they plan to hire are licensed, bonded, and insured.

How to Avoid a Business Data Breach

It is difficult to deny the fact that there have been more catastrophic cases of data breaches in the last few years than ever before. The number of attacks and breaches continues to increase exponentially, despite the increasing awareness of better information security. Over 90% of business operations are now stored digitally, so this increase is not surprising.

What’s surprising is how so many businesses still take information security lightly. After the 2013 Yahoo data breach and the recent Equifax hack, operating without proper security measures in place is no longer acceptable. Here are the steps you can take to better prevent data breaches in your company.

A Better Structure

Gone are the days of pooling all information in one server and allowing everyone the same level of access. Thanks to better file management and new information security technologies, companies can implement a much more advanced structuring across their organization.

You start by organizing data into compartments based on the needs of the organization. A content management system or a more comprehensive Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution can be used to manage not just operational data but also user access.

A better information structure allows you to manage access to sensitive information meticulously. Finance officers can only access information assigned to their department. Access to sales reports, for example, will require a special permission; this special permission can be granted on a temporary basis for better security.

The Right Measures

If you followed the full report on Yahoo’s data breach on TheBannerHerald.com, you should find it easy to see some of the prominent causes of that hack and how you can avoid them. The lack of sufficient security measures was to blame in this case (and many other cases).

There is no such thing as being too careful when it comes to protecting business information. A good way to start is by adding encryption for better file protection, followed by the use of SSL security to further secure data transmissions. Multiple redundancies, on the other hand, can act as additional layers of protection. These measures can block the majority of cyber attacks very effectively.

Having a comprehensive information security policy is also a must. The policy must dictate how sensitive data is to be handled, including internal and external transfers of files. Once a comprehensive policy is in place, it is time to tackle the third part of the equation.

Preventing Human Error

That third part is human error. There are many cases of information theft that started with a simple human error. The Equifax hack – one that left more than 140 million people exposed – is a good example.

Having a good policy and comprehensive security measures are not enough. The people within the organization must also understand and maintain information security best practices at all times. This includes setting strong passwords to prevent unauthorized access and not sharing that password, even with authorized parties.

The impact of a catastrophic data breach is, well, catastrophic. When Verizon discovered the data breach at Yahoo, the company lowered its offer by a whopping $1 billion. It is time to take a more serious approach to protecting the safety and smooth operations of your business in the digital age.