Despite the growing awareness about cyber threats, many myths about cyber security still persist. Ready to separate fact from fiction? Here are some of the most common cybersecurity myths.

Myth #1 — Too much security diminishes productivity.

Some business owners worry that increased cyber security protocols will make it difficult for employees to access what they need to do their job. However, in reality, not having adequate cyber security protocols may have long-term and catastrophic consequences for your business. Many preventive measures require little hassle on the part of employees.

Myth #2 — Cyberattacks are only executed by external perpetrators.

Wrong! Insider threats are on the rise and should be a cause for concern for all businesses. Insider threats can include employees, vendors, contractors and business partners and be either a simple case of negligence or can be malicious in nature. A recent survey revealed that insider threats are responsible for more than half of all data breaches. All companies need to have plans in place to help prevent these types of attacks.

Myth #3 — Cybercriminals only attack large businesses.

Small and medium-sized businesses may wrongly assume that their data isn’t attractive to hackers. But these operations are among the most susceptible to cyberattacks. An Accenture survey revealed that hackers went after small businesses nearly half of the time. Unfortunately, only about 14% of these businesses were prepared to act defensively in such a situation.

The lesson: No matter the size no business is immune from hacking attempts and malicious attacks. Hackers don’t discriminate when it comes to their victims. So, don’t let the size of your business determine how valuable your data is or how secure your assets are.

Myth #4 — Cybersecurity and cyber insurance is too expensive

Even though the headlines paint grim stories, some companies still wonder if cybersecurity programs are worth the cost. Data security is frequently overlooked and many organizations respond reactively when they have no other option.

Just how expensive is such a mistake? Consider the fact that the average cost of a data breach in 2021 is $4.24 million, the highest in the last 17 years. This statistic doesn’t even take into account reputational losses and customer losses from a breach. One thing is for certain: The cost of a good cybersecurity plan and coverage is far less than dealing with the consequences of an attack.

There’s a lot of room for improvement when it comes to educating employees about cybersecurity. Case in point: the cybersecurity awareness training firm KnowBe4′s State of Privacy and Security Awareness Report. This report details the state of employee awareness and practices — and it’s not good news for most organizations.

The report is based on feedback from 1,000 employees in small, midsize and large companies in the United States. The purpose is to determine how much cybersecurity training workers have received and how that information translates into cyber security awareness. The report brings some alarming findings to the surface. For instance, employees surveyed could not identify some common and potentially devastating types of cyber risks and how those risks could adversely affect their employers.

According to the report, nearly one-quarter of employees believe that clicking on suspicious links or attachments presented little or no cyber risk. In reality, it’s one of the most common and effective strategies for cybercriminals. Similarly, less than a third of respondents said that allowing family members and friends to use work devices outside of work hours is risky or presents serious risks. In reality, this practice breaks the human firewall chain and has led to breaches.

What’s perhaps the most unsettling is that many employees who work in vulnerable sectors are not savvy when it comes to these matters. The survey found that only 14% of government employees and 22% of healthcare employees can confidently describe to senior management the negative effects of cybersecurity risks. This compares with 47% and 50% in technology and finance, respectively.

At the same time, the bad actors seem to be tuned into this reality. Due to the pandemic, cybercriminals have been taking advantage of industries that have been hit the hardest, such as healthcare, municipalities, and educational facilities. These hackers also see the pandemic as an opportunity to take advantage of employees that are now working remotely on their personal devices.

According to the report, employees in government and healthcare had the least amount of knowledge of social engineering attacks. Per the report, only 15% of government employees “very well” understood the five types of social engineering threats. Think phishing, spear phishing, business email compromise, vishing, and smishing. Workers in health care and education reported only slightly more awareness of these risks, at 16% and 17%, respectively.

This report and others like it underscore the need for regular employee training on cyber security risks and best practices; company-wide cyber policies outlining expectations for employees; the right preventive tools and the right type and amount of cyber insurance coverage.

As a business owner, do you believe that your skills, intelligence and abilities can be developed over time? Or do you believe that your talents are mostly fixed, meaning that if you’re not really good at something now, you probably won’t ever be great at it? These are critical questions to ask yourself. That’s because your mindset — how you view, interpret and act on decisions, problems and challenges in your life — can play a significant role in your success and happiness. Or it can hold you back from being the person — and business leader — you want to be.

American psychologist Carol Dweck is credited for identifying two main types of mindsets. A growth (also called learning) mindset is a belief that with hard work, desire and perseverance, most people can develop and improve their talents, abilities, and intelligence. On the other hand, those with a fixed mindset believe that a person’s talent and intelligence are more or less innate — you either have certain characteristics or you don’t. In other words, there are ‘gifted’ people and there’s everyone else. Those with fixed mindsets do not believe they (or anyone else for that matter) can significantly improve their innate qualities.

There’s no shortage of examples of the great things that can be accomplished with a growth mindset. For example, at Microsoft, Satya Nadella made it his mission to revamp the leadership and the culture at Microsoft with a growth mindset after taking over in 2014. In his book, Hit Refresh, Nadella explains that mindsets– specifically helping employees at the company develop growth mindsets– were his tool for taking Microsoft to the next level. After more than a decade of static market capitalization and share price, Nadella helped usher in a new era for Microsoft, one in which the company’s market capitalization and stock price more than tripled. Pfizer, too, credits a growth mindset for the company’s success and growth.

One of the keys in developing a growth mindset is to help yourself and your organization’s leaders view failure as an opportunity to reflect, learn and improve your skills. In many organizations, failure is not tolerated or viewed negatively, which makes employees fearful of making mistakes and as a result less likely to take risks and think innovatively. To adopt a growth mindset, business leaders and employees must embrace risk and imperfection and push themselves out of established comfort zones.

Henry Ford once said, “Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.” He couldn’t have been more right.

Small businesses face a variety of risks in today’s world. Unfortunately, many companies aren’t effectively managing those risks. Of the nearly 32 million small businesses nationwide, for example, it’s estimated that 75% of them have either not enough commercial insurance or no coverage at all.

The official definition of a small business is a company that employs fewer than 500 people. Research shows that the smaller the company, the less likely they are to have adequate insurance coverage.

The top claims made by small businesses include burglary/theft and damage to property caused by perils such as water, wind, hail, fire and freezing temperatures. Another top source of claims: Legal claims made by customers, including those injured at the company’s place of business. A BOP, short for Business Owners Policy, combines vital business property and liability coverage into one convenient and affordable policy and can be an ideal solution for home-based businesses and other small firms. As a business grows, however, its insurance needs change. Many growing companies don’t keep up in the area of insurance and risk management.

Business continuity is yet another area in which small businesses fall short. Nearly three-quarters of new businesses survive the two-year mark and half survive the five-year mark. But only one-third of all companies remain in business after 10 years. One of the biggest sources of business failures is a lack of planning for the unexpected. Businesses that have a plan for unexpected events have a much higher survival rate than those that don’t.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 40 percent of businesses never reopen after a disaster. Most of those that go out of business did not have enough insurance, the right coverage or any coverage at all. It’s estimated that 75% of businesses in the United States are underinsured in some way by 40 percent or more, according to international data analytics firm Marshall & Swift.

We understand that you have your hands full running your business. As licensed insurance professionals, consider our team at Accurate Protection a part of your key advisory team. We’ll partner with you to perform a thorough analysis of your company and its unique risks and find the best solutions for managing those risks. With Accurate Protection, you’ll get an insurance program specifically tailored to your needs, with the right amount and type of coverage, at an extremely competitive rate.

Facing an E&O claim is a lot like an IRS audit. It’s time-consuming, stressful and something you really want to avoid. In today’s litigious business environment, it’s important to review some of the most effective ways to reduce your E&O risk as well as provide a strong defense in the event a claim is made against you:

Obtain E&O insurance coverage. For many types of business professionals, having errors and omissions (also called professional liability) insurance is critical. In today’s world, you can be the subject of a financially devastating legal claim at any time.

Keep information about each client in a separate file. Include and summarize all interactions with each client via phone, e-mail, text and in person.

Summarize every client conversation and meeting, including phone calls. Include the day and time of the interaction, the name of the client and what was discussed. Don’t skip logging a call because you think it is trivial. Every interaction could be important in the event of an E&O claim or in court proceedings.

Make sure you’re documenting the advice you provide. When a client asks you for advice, include information in their file about what they asked you, what guidance you provided them and what action was taken as a result. If a client elected to not take the advice that you recommended to them, make sure that’s documented as well. Many E&O claims stem from instances in which a client doesn’t take a recommended course of action or says they were given incorrect information.

Keep up with your record keeping. Contemporaneously prepared documentation is best. Documentation should be as thorough as possible given time and resource constraints. Notes are considered especially credible evidence of conversations in the event of a legal claim. You can put information together months or years later, but it won’t be as accurate or credible.

Use your words carefully. Respond to your client as if your conversation is being recorded. Be precise and thorough in every text, e-mail, letter, in-person visit or phone call. Think twice about calling yourself an ‘expert’.

Use follow up letters/e-mails. If the conversation is an extremely important one, you may want to provide a summary of what was discussed in a follow-up letter or e-mail to your client. Documentation, when consistently created, will not guarantee that a claim will be settled in your favor. It will, however, give you the best defense possible.

Do you like to make New Year’s resolutions? Studies show that most Americans make an average of three to five goals each January. The problem: Most resolutions are cast aside by the end of February.

What would happen if you picked just one resolution — one important business goal — and stuck to it for an entire year? A goal that’s challenging and, if you work hard, attainable? Research shows that instead of coming up with multiple goals for 2021, pledging to make one significant change is more likely to result in success. And make it specific. Instead of a New Year’s resolution to “attend more networking events,” quantify the number of networking events you’ll attend each month and what you plan to accomplish at each. Instead of “growing your business,” quantify how much you plan to grow your sales or profits.

One time-tested method for setting effective goals is called the SMART principle. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Using the SMART approach, quality goals can be created by asking yourself these five questions:

  • Is your goal specific enough? You’ll be more motivated to work hard to attain a goal if you spell out exactly what should be accomplished. Instead of a vague goal of increasing traffic to your company’s website, for example, you would want to set a specific goal in terms of unique visitors or page views.
  • Is your goal measurable? Make sure you can monitor your progress and ultimately measure whether you have accomplished what you set out to.
  • Is your goal achievable? You don’t want to create goals that are too easy to reach but you don’t want to set yourself up for failure, either.
  • Is your goal relevant? If you accomplish your goal, will it further your personal and/or business objections or mission?
  • Does your goal have a timeline? Having a deadline can be motivating and give you an exact date in the future to work toward. Otherwise, you might not feel the urgency to put in the required effort.

Research also shows that sharing your resolution with others can make a big difference. Let others know about your goal early in the year.

Do your employees know what your company stands for — its mission, why it’s in business, and how it’s different from competing companies? Only 41 percent of U.S. workers say they do. Surprised? Shocked?

That alarming statistic is from Gallup research. While most business leaders can clearly describe their company or organization’s mission, most employees can’t. Another surprising statistic: Only four in 10 U.S. employees strongly believe that the mission of their company makes them feel their position is important.

That’s a real problem. Research shows a clear link between how well employees understand their company’s mission and purpose and embrace it and how well it performs. According to Gallup, just a 10 percent improvement in a workforce’s connection with their company’s mission or purpose would likely result in an 8.1 percent decrease in employee turnover and a 4.4 percent increase in profitability. If your company or organization doesn’t have a formal mission, it needs one. If it has one, everyone should understand what it is and how their work or job ties into and is important to this purpose.

In conducting a meta-analysis of nearly 50,000 business units across just under 200 organizations representing 49 different industries in nearly three dozen countries, Gallup scientists discovered that as employees move beyond the basics of employee engagement and view their contributions to their organizations more broadly, a lot of positive and powerful things start to happen. Employees are more likely to be loyal to their employers, work harder and more creatively and take ownership in what they do, connecting with customers/clients to the benefit of the organization. All that great stuff happens because of a clear mission.

At Accurate Protection, our entire team is focused on providing a full spectrum of risk management solutions for businesses of all sizes. The average insurance broker meets your basic needs when it comes to business insurance plans, claims and renewal negotiation. But what about helping your company adapt to new and evolving exposures, such as cyber-attacks and changes in legislation?

In addition to helping with a comprehensive risk management plan, we help our clients better manage today’s challenging business environment by offering them a web-based client resource center. Customized to a company’s unique needs, you’ll find a wealth of valuable information for your business on a wide and diverse variety of issues all in one place. Here’s some of what will you find in our Accurate Protection Connect:

  • A dynamic interactive online forum
  • The tools to create a customized company safety manual
  • An easy-to-use OSHA reporting system
  • Legislative updates that could affect your company and industry
  • Convenient 24/7 online insurance claims reporting
  • Customized employee newsletters and payroll stuffers
  • A library of more than 1,000 downloadable articles in both English and Spanish.

Learn more about how we can help your company be more efficient and successful.

Did you know that slips and falls are two of the most common causes of injury during the winter months? Rain, ice and snow all can dramatically increase the likelihood that you or one of your employees will end up injured. One of the best ways to avoid a serious injury? Walk like a penguin. It’s easy. Simply spread your feet out a bit to increase your center of gravity and take small steps. Next time you are out on an icy sidewalk, try it. Here are some other suggestions to help prevent wintertime slips and falls:

Monitor conditions from the parking lot to the office area. Spot check your parking area and both your outdoor and indoor pathways regularly to ensure they are safe. It’s easy to track in rain or snow, so keep an eye out for the interior entry area. Clean up any spills, wet floors or standing water immediately.

Wear the proper shoes. Make sure your shoes have proper traction. Dress shoes and other types of footwear that have little or no traction aren’t good choices when there’s rain, ice or snow. Invest in quality winter footwear that you can wear in times of inclement weather.

Assume the surface is slippery. If you aren’t sure whether a surface is icy, it’s better just to assume that it is.

Take your time. Don’t rush on rainy, icy or snowy pathways. Use any handrails that are available to you, and don’t use your cell phone while walking.

Keep your hands out of your pockets. This is an important tip. Walking with your hands in your pockets decreases your center of gravity and balance and increases your chances of suffering an even greater injury in the event of a fall. If your hands are out of your pockets, you’ll be better able to break your fall with them. Use handrails wherever available.

Take care when shoveling snow. It’s a strenuous activity that can lead to injury. When shoveling, keep your back straight, lift with your legs and do not turn or twist your body while shoveling.

Hire a quality vendor. Hiring an outside vendor to handle wintertime maintenance and ensure the safety of your workers can be a great option for your business.

Report unsafe conditions. Encourage employees to report any unsafe conditions inside or outside your facility immediately.

Respond to problems quickly. Anytime there’s an accident indoors or out, it’s critical to review your safety plan and procedures, and if needed, revise them.

At Accurate Protection, we know that businesses face a wide range of risks. Let us help you better manage them!

The global pandemic added a new and challenging perspective to our lives over the past year and a half— stress and worry. It’s been a heavy load, and it’s wearing us out.

Business owners and leaders have faced many unprecedented challenges caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, including how best to keep their employees safe and how to help their organizations adapt to changing conditions. It’s been, of course, no easy task. Employees have been dealing with uncertainty over what the pandemic could mean for their families, loved ones, jobs, and careers. Continually dealing with uncertainty — and creatively coming up with solutions to address it — has made us weary. And the good news-bad news cycle has been draining. While it seemed, for example, that pandemic was winding down, the Delta variant has caused another wave of worry. And once again, we’re wondering what is going to happen next.

According to a new report by Gallup, leaders who haven’t done so already must take steps to address burnout — both their own and their employees — or risk having it impact their organizations and workforces to an even greater degree. The global analytics and advice company has these suggestions:

1. Measure employee well-being. How well are you monitoring employee engagement and morale? Surveys can help pinpoint issues like burnout, stress and fear, and help leaders know which issues are the most important to tackle and how.

2. Address work-life balance. Managers should be trained to have conversations about this critical issue with their employees and be able to take action when needed. If your organization wants to be able to recruit and retain quality employees effectively, you’ll need to find a way to address this top concern among American workers today. It’s no longer enough to offer a good working environment from 9 to 5; employees want an employer to help them balance the demands of work and family.

3. Acknowledge the desire for remote work. Employees want flexibility in where and how they work long after the pandemic is over. Those who never worked at home pre-pandemic realized during the outbreak that they liked it and could do their jobs as well as or even better than in the office setting. A number of people don’t want to go back to the office environment. The most effective leaders will offer employees flexibility and resources that support productivity and work-life integration.

4. Understand that everyone’s struggle is different. The COVID-19 outbreak has made it clear that a one-size-fits-all approach to managing people simply doesn’t work. The pandemic, for example, has caused severe financial and personal distress for some households. Working mothers and single parents have often struggled to address tough child-care issues. Some families may have faced severe financial setbacks or grappled with the death of loved ones. Others may have become more concerned with serious diversity, equity and inclusion issues. Is your workplace accepting and supportive of all employees?

5. Be on the lookout for signs of burnout. Now, more than ever, it’s vital that leaders make sure their management team has realistic expectations for employees, that individualized support is available to workers and that each one has a manageable workload and time off to rest and recharge. Being on the lookout for burnout in yourself and those around you. This will be a critical task now and in the years to come.

Is your business OSHA compliant? All businesses are required to follow rules and regulations designed to maintain a safe and healthy workplace for employees. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s the law. And even if you haven’t had any on-site injuries or accidents, your business still could be subject to fines and/or penalties if you don’t follow the OSHA regulations that apply to your business and industry.106964639_M

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration Act details specific responsibilities employers have regarding ensuring a safe and healthy workspace for their workers:

  • Providing a workplace free from recognized hazards and complying with standards, rules and regulations issued under the OSHA Act that apply to their enterprise.
  • Examining workplace conditions to make sure they conform to applicable OSHA standards.
  • Making sure employees have and use safe tools and equipment and that the equipment is properly maintained. Employees should be trained to use equipment/tools safely.
  • Using color codes, posters, labels and/or signs to warn employees of potential hazards and remind them of best safety practices.
  • Establishing or updating operating procedures and communicating them so that employees follow safety and health requirements.
  • Providing safety training in a language and vocabulary workers can understand. Reminding employees of what they’ve learned in training and providing periodic educational opportunities reinforcing safety.

Federal law provides employees the right to contact their local OSHA office and make a complaint or lodge a concern regarding their place of employment. Because of the importance of worker safety, OSHA takes workplace violations seriously, and Inspections that reveal non-compliance can result in fines/penalties for the business.

OSHA encourages all employers to adopt a workplace safety and health program, regardless of the type of business or industry. These types of risk management programs can substantially reduce the number and severity of workplace injuries, maintain worker safety and demonstrate a company’s commitment to safety. Most successful safety and health programs are based on a common set of key elements. These include a leadership commitment to safety, worker participation, a written safety plan/program and an effective approach to finding and fixing hazards. Simply put, smart planning can protect your business and keep it compliant with OSHA rules/regulations.

Prevention and preparation are the keys to avoiding costly and dangerous accidents or workplace problems. At Accurate Protection, we deliver the strategies, tools and resources that you need to assist with OSHA standards and requirements. We can help you understand OSHA regulations that apply to you and your business/industry, prepare for an OSHA inspection, maintain good records and stay up-to-date on ever-changing rules and regulations. Learn more about all of the ways we can help your business manage its unique risks and thrive.