Managing cyber risks while staff work from home

Heightened cyber risks have emerged as a serious issue, given most businesses now have many staff working from home.

So it’s important to put in place policies and procedures to ensure data is secure no matter where staff are located. Helping staff to recognise and avoid risky behaviours is also part of a great cyber safe culture. Here we explore some of the essential steps businesses need to take to reduce the risk of cyber criminals compromising the network.

Make sure staff are updating security alerts

“The challenge is to ensure cyber security is top of mind for employees,” says Fernando Serto, head of security technology and strategy at Akamai Technologies.

“But it can be tricky to enforce behaviour when people work at home, especially when it comes to ensuring employees are uploading security updates,” he adds. One way to combat this is to put controls in place so staff can’t access work applications on their devices until security updates have been installed.

“This will encourage users to keep up with updates and patch cycles,” Serto says. This is also effective no matter if staff are using devices provided by the business or their own tablets, laptops and smart phones.

Educate staff about cyber safe practices

Phishing is a huge challenge for all businesses. These are fake communications sent by criminals that look messages from a real business. The fraudsters attempt to get staff to click on links, which gives offenders access to the business’ IT system.

It’s essential to teach staff how to recognise a phishing email, which is challenging given criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their approach.

“We’ve seen phishing campaigns that use social media and other methods to try to lure individuals to click on a malicious link to compromise a work device,” says Serto. So it’s important to create an open, honest and transparent communication channel between staff and the IT security team.

This enables the business to explain to teams why being phishing-aware is important and to let them know when new scams emerge.

Ensure staff are safe when they use video conferencing

The use of video conferencing tools has skyrocketed this year, greatly assisting firms to communicate when staff are no longer office-based. But hackers can easily compromise these tools and use them to enter a firm’s network.

So it’s important to implement proper protocols to reduce this risk.“There are lots of free versions of these tools. But an enterprise-grade solution will make a significant security difference,” says Mick McCluney, technical director of cyber security firm Trend Micro.

Free services run a heightened risk of malware being installed in users’ systems. Using an enterprise-grade version substantially minimises this risk.“Outsiders guessing meeting IDs and bombing meetings is becoming an issue.

So take care to configure meetings so they are secure. Using passwords where possible also helps ensure only authenticated users are in the meeting,” McCluney adds.

Concerns have been raised by the FBI and others about IT security when using Zoom.

Hamish Blake the comedian has crashed Zoom meetings. Cyber insurance is another line of defence against cyber attacks by external parties. But it should be seen as a last line of defence. It’s also essential for firms to have the right security protocols in place to reduce the risk of compromised systems while so many people are working from home.

If the business does detect a cyber breach, use it as opportunity to educate staff and encourage them to be an active part of the organisation’s cyber security strategy. See a breach as a valuable lesson and a way of generating insights about which other controls should be in place to avoid a similar situation down the track. That’s the best way to ensure the business, its data and systems are properly protected at all times.

Important note – the information provided here is general advice only and has been prepared without taking in account your objectives, financial situation or needs.

This is a Steadfast Well Covered Article.

Protecting Your Commercial Assets In Business

For business owners in Australia, insurance needs to be a priority. With so many potential threats to a business, having the right insurance coverage can keep your business and your personal finances significantly safer. The challenge for Australian entrepreneurs is that there are so many different types of insurance policies available that it can often get very confusing very quickly. From the insurance that you’re required to have by law, to the coverage that will simply give you peace of mind in a wide variety of sectors, here is a brief guide to protecting the commercial assets of your business.

Legally Required Insurance

There are a variety of insurance types that business owners are required to have. Although employees are not legally considered as a commercial asset, you will certainly struggle to run a business without them. All businesses that employ even a single person must have Employers Liability Insurance in place. However, if you have business premises, that is an asset, and that means you need to have Buildings Insurance. This will protect you from damage to the building, whether it’s from wilful vandalism or accidental fire or flooding. You may also need to have:

  • Vehicle Insurance: If you use a company vehicle to deliver goods or for your employees to use, then they need to be insured.
  • Industry Specifics: Some industries are required by law to have specifically tailored policies in place. Make sure that you are aware of the specific needs of your business sector so that you aren’t caught out.

Non-required Insurance Types

There are additional types of insurance that may not be required by law but can be very useful when it comes to keeping your business safer. Depending on the sector that you trade in or the size and structure of your business, here are some asset protection insurance types that you should consider:

  • Professional Indemnity: This should be a priority for freelancers, consultants, and contractors. Although it is not a requirement, it can keep you much safer against claims made against you or your business in relation to professional negligence.
  • D&O Insurance: If your business has directors and/or officers then it’s worth getting the insurance that can protect them individually from legal liability.
  • Product Liability: If your business sells, makes, or even simply repairs a tangible product then it’s a smart move to invest in product liability cover. If a customer gets injured using a faulty product then you can be vulnerable to a substantial fine that could cost you your business.

Manufacturing businesses might also want to look at a pollution risk policy. If there is even the slightest risk that your manufacturing locations will produce any kind of waste then a pollution risk policy will be a huge help if you are forced to pay for the cleanup of any accidental pollution or any claims made against your business.

Additional Options

No matter what kind of industry your business is in, you might also want to secure your assets by adding these additional policy types to your overall coverage:

  • Intellectual Property Insurance: Protect your intangible assets, including patents, logos, or designs.
  • Business Interruption Insurance: If you are forced to close your business temporarily due to outside disruption (flooding or fire) then this can prevent the threat of closure due to a lack of revenue stream. This is sometimes referred to as Business Income Protection Insurance.
  • Glass and Sign Cover: Often not included in Buildings Insurance, this can keep your frontage much safer.

You might also look at Goods in Transit insurance if your business involves a lot of shipping, or Money Insurance if you have large amounts of currency on your premises.

Entrepreneurs and business owners should always have a very clear picture of their insurance needs. From the policies that are legally required to the ones that are simply designed to keep your business safer, having the right coverage can ease the stress of business management. Make sure that your business is more protected, and the future of your company will be much more secure.

Bushfires and business interruption

Some insurers have already started to pay claims to bushfire-affected businesses on the NSW South Coast, as their business interruption insurance policy provides for weekly payments.

Having this support has been important for affected firms to stay in business. It allows them to maintain their cash flow and pay regular outgoings such as rent and wages.

Under a business interruption policy, a business that suffers an insurable event can claim for loss of income. Policyholders in the best position have been those that have been able to quickly provide their financial information to support their claim.

Christopher Connolly, underwriting manager with underwriting agency Interruption Underwriting Agencies (IUA), explains.“The fires happened on New Year’s Eve. The first business day was Thursday 2 January.

We started to pay claims the following Friday 10 January, which was within 7 business days” he says.

Affected businesses such as restaurants, shops and other local stores have been able to claim under a prevention of access clause in their policy.

The clause is triggered because the authorities issued directives that closed the roads. This meant the annual influx of tourists the South Coast receives could not reach the businesses in the towns affected by the road closures.

Some roads remained closed at the time of writing.

This article from the Steadfast online magazine Well Covered, discusses risks of underinsurance, how to avoid mistakes and ensure homeowners have the right insurance in place, particularly in fire-prone areas.

Read the full article here

Bushfire safe: making sure your home isn’t underinsured

With bushfires burning around the country, it’s important for homeowners in fire-prone areas to take steps to ensure they have the right insurance in place.

This article from the Steadfast online magazine Well Covered, discusses risks of underinsurance, how to avoid mistakes and ensure homeowners have the right insurance in place, particularly in fire-prone areas.

Read the full article here

Income Protection for Business Owners

All business owners have a lot of challenges, but many fail to contemplate what might happen if their business is suddenly unable to trade. From illness or injury to a fire at your supplier’s warehouse, there are many ways that your profit generation could be suddenly halted. While there are many rewards to being a business owner, the threat of the unexpected should not be overlooked. One of the most effective ways of keeping yourself and your business safe is through Business Income Protection Insurance. While many people have personal income protection, income protection for business owners is a much more focused form of coverage that could keep you much more safeguarded against the unexpected.

What is Business Income Protection?

Disruption to your workflow can be caused by many uncontrollable events. Business Income Insurance policies are intended to cover your living and working costs while you are unable to trade. Whether you are forced to close your business due to long-term disruption or need to cease trading temporarily, Business Income Protection can make sure that when you are able to reopen the doors you will be in a much more secure position. When work is disrupted, business owners still have bills to pay, staff wages, and supplier costs that need to be maintained. And that can be very challenging if you are not generating any profits.

Why you need it

If there was any damage caused to your business premises, such as a fire or a flood, would your current finances keep you afloat? Any kind of damage, disaster, or business interruption can have a dramatic effect on a business. Without the reliability of ongoing profits, many business owners simply lack the resources needed to stay financially secure during unexpected breaks in trading. Business Income Insurance is intended to keep you financially stable as you tackle disruption, and can be a useful resource when you’re trying to get your business back up and running to pre-disaster levels.

Did you know?

Income Protection Insurance can cover individuals or businesses, but research in 2016 revealed that only 31% of Australians have their income protected.

Research by the Australian Centre for Business Growth suggests that 13% of Australian SMEs fail due to external factors such as natural disasters, changes to regulations, or even shifts in global trends. However, the actual number may be much higher than this.

Income Protection Insurance is not a new type of coverage. In fact, the first recorded policy that was designed to protect income was back in 1880!

What it covers

Most Business Income Protection policies will vary according to your needs. However, you can expect that your policy will cover:

  • The costs of relocation (temporary or permanent)
  • Property damage to products or premises
  • Theft of equipment that prevents you from operating
  • Fixed costs
  • Expenses caused by disruption
  • Wage payments to staff
  • Taxes
  • Loan repayments

What isn’t covered?

Generally, Business Income Protection will not cover you if your business is harmed by you intentionally, particularly in cases where damage was caused by intoxication. You will also find that most policies will only cover your costs if your business suffers a loss or inability to trade as a direct result of a specific disruption.

Businesses exist to make a profit. If a business is unable to make money due to any kind of external factors that are out of the owner’s control, having Income Protection can give you the financial safety net that you need to recover and continue trading.

Telematics continues to evolve in insurance

Telematics technology has proven benefits when it comes to encouraging more responsible driving, with research indicating better driver behaviour is one of the main advantages in using this innovation.

Black box or telematics technology is a way for businesses to collect data on how their employees are using company vehicles. Using telematics, businesses can collect information such as whether drivers are speeding or driving dangerously, as well as how long they spend on the road. This is important, as research indicates driver fatigue is one of the main causes of road accidents.

According to the most recent Telematics Benchmark report, improved driver behaviour, peace of mind and regulatory benefits are some of main pluses to using telematics. The research found when drivers use telematics devices, businesses achieve peace of mind knowing where their vehicles are on the road and can also plot more efficient routes, leading to reduced costs such as lower fuel bills.

Importantly, data shows businesses that use telematics can improve the safe driving record of their vehicles. Mercurien Insurance specialises in providing insurance to businesses that use tools such as telematics to manage their fleet of vehicles. One of its clients, a not-for-profit organisation with a vehicle fleet, saw speeding events per kilometre drop from 0.14 to 0.07 across two-and-a-half years. Additionally, at fault claims fell from just over 60 to just over 20 a year thanks to telematics.

As this shows, businesses that use telematics may experience a commensurate improvement in driver safety. As a result, some insurers look favourably on businesses that employ telematics in their vehicles.

Businesses collect the data and may provide it to some insurers, who then use it to make decisions on the policy and its conditions. Insurers may approve more favourable policies, including more cost-effective premiums, based on data showing better driver safety.

Turning to the public sector, the National Transport Commission is reviewing how telematics is used across the transport industry, especially among vehicles that are required to comply with the Heavy Vehicle National Law, as well as vehicles that are required by law to use telematics, such as taxis and buses.

Michael White, Steadfast’s Broker Technical Manager, explains telematics may be used by businesses to better manage how their fleets are operated and to also provide this information to their insurer.

“In the case of heavy motor vehicles, telematics can provide information on how the vehicle is being driven, speeds, how brakes are used and whether drivers comply with road rules,” he says.

Zurich Motor Fleet Underwriting and Risk Engineering is one insurer that has a telematics-based insurance policy. Zurich Fleet Intelligence (ZFI) uses telematics data gathered from its policyholders vehicles through black box technology. Subsequently, Zurich uses this information when assessing insurance policy applications and claims.

Often, Zurich’s clients already have devices in place in vehicles so they can monitor vehicles for logistics purposes. ZFI can draw on this data to assess how individual drivers behave when they are on the road. The technology also provides information to drivers about their driving performance, online and in real time.

However, another insurer, QBE, has exited the market, closing its Insurance Box product it launched in 2014. This technology provided people with a Drive Score and helped them become better drivers, by providing feedback on driving habits and tips on how to improve driving performance. It was the first product of its kind in Australia but will no longer be offered as a standalone product.

Despite QBE streamlining its telematics offering, this technology is likely to become more popular with insurers, businesses and regulators as it becomes more sophisticated over time.

Important note – This article is provided by Steadfast.

The information provided here is general advice only and has been prepared without taking in account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Steadfast Group Ltd (ABN 98 073 659 677, AFSL 254928)

What is Volunteer Insurance?

Whether you run a charity, a not-for-profit, or regular live events, volunteer insurance exists to protect both you and the volunteers that work for you. From music festival ticket collectors to ongoing charity work, volunteers are often the most important part of your organisation, and they need to be protected from accidents. Volunteer Insurance will cover them for personal accidents, and they and your organisation will be at a serious disadvantage if you do not have the right coverage in place. If you want to attract the right volunteers and keep your vital volunteers safe and confident, this specific insurance is going to be an essential requirement.

Who Needs It

Many types of organisations will need to have the right volunteer insurance policy in place.  Community groups, charities that provide healthcare for the elderly or disadvantaged, religious organisations, recreation clubs, and any charity or organisation that runs events, all make use of volunteers. These workers will not be covered by a standard business insurance policy, as they are distinctly different from salaried employees. Volunteer insurance policies protect the volunteer, but they also protect the organisation from public liability claims caused by the volunteers.

Did you know?

  • There are an estimated one billion volunteer workers worldwide, and Australia has just under six million of them. (Volunteering Australia)
  • The Australian economy receives approximately $290 billion from the work carried out by volunteers. (Pro Bono Australia)
  • According to the 2016 census by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the largest volunteering demographic for men is those aged between 45-54. Women make up the largest numbers, with females aged 35-44 amounting to just under 400,000 volunteers. (Australian Bureau of Statistics)

What does it cover?

Employee insurance is very different from volunteer insurance, and you need to be aware of the protection that you are missing out on if your community group, non-profit, church, or charity makes use of volunteers. Volunteer insurance coverage means that you will get protection for:

Personal accidents: If a volunteer is injured while being involved in authorised volunteer activity, they will get protection and may receive weekly payments until they have recovered. This protects volunteers who are engaged in other work, as they may lose out on regular wages if they are injured while volunteering. It can even cover expenses caused by the accident and medical expenses.

Public liability: A well-tailored volunteer policy will also cover public liability. This type of policy will have a broader goal, and will offer protection for the organisation, any paid employees, and volunteers in cases of third-party personal injury or property damage. Not all volunteer policies will include public liability, so you need to confirm your coverage with your provider.

Voluntary Boards: If you have directors and board members that are categorised as volunteers, then you may want to include Professional Indemnity Liability. This will protect directors and officers from negligence by volunteers, defamation, slander, and sexual harassment. This is not usually included with a standard volunteer insurance policy, but may be a valuable addition if you make use of high-ranking professional volunteers.

How to create and maintain an SMB inventory list

It can take just moments for fire, flood or thieves to wipe out years of hard work, asset accumulation and stock. But it can be months before you realise the full extent of the damage – and even longer to recover – if you don’t have a detailed and up-to-date inventory list encompassing business asset including equipment, as well as stock.

It’s fairly easy to name your business’s key assets – you’ll probably think of the premises, and the tools and technology that you handle every day.

But what about those items that aren’t necessarily right in your face and that you accumulate over time? Signage, cleaning equipment and office supplies such as staplers and labelers can add up to a significant investment if they all need to be replaced at once.

Because they are not handled or used every day, it can take time to realise they were stolen or destroyed. But this doesn’t make them any less significant to the running of your business.

Not having these items can hamper your efforts to get back up and running quickly. And this – minimising the interruption to your business – is where a detailed and up-to-date office inventory list is important.

To view the full article, please visit Steadfast Well Covered here.

How to protect your business against non-compliant cladding

The UK’s Grenfell Tower disaster has had widespread implications for professionals in Australia’s construction industry. Here’s how to help protect yourself if you’re a contractor who’s worked on any Australian building project.

The UK Grenfell Tower disaster claimed the lives of 72 people on 14 June 2017.

The tragedy unfolded on television and computer screens around the globe, serving as a sharp and tragic wake-up call to governments and regulators around the world that cheap, non-compliant cladding materials could create devastating fire hazards for high rise buildings.

In Australia, the threat combustible cladding poses remains very real. As evidenced by a recent fire at an inner city high-rise in Melbourne that forced the evacuation of hundreds of residents and required more than 60 fire fighters to bring it under control.

Authorities and insurance companies have been quick to put new procedures and policies in place, including the Victorian Cladding Taskforce and NSW’s Fire Safety and External Wall Cladding Taskforce

In NSW, new laws require owners of existing buildings with combustible cladding that fall within specified categories to register their building with the NSW Cladding Registration portal by 22 February 2019.

As non-compliant buildings are identified around the nation, owners may be ordered to remove the cladding from their buildings.

This has been seen already at the Lacrosse tower building in Docklands, Melbourne, which caught fire in 2014. In turn, the apartment owners are now suing the builder and other consultants to cover the costs.

“They’ve initiated legal action against the builder and a lot of the consultants who worked on the project,”  explains Steadfast’s Broker Technical Manager, Michael White.

“Because one thing about all these kinds of situations is that anybody who had anything to do with the project, no matter how remote, can get sued.”

To view the full article, please visit Steadfast Well Covered here.

Lessons learned from Sydney’s ‘catastrophic’ storm

Sydney’s violent hailstorm, which has left millions of dollars of damage in its wake, is a crucial reminder of how important it is to protect yourself against potentially crippling damage to your business.

The incident, declared a ‘catastrophe’ by the Insurance Council of Australia, led to more than 15,000 claims in the 18 hours after it swept across Sydney and parts of the Central Coast on the evening of Thursday, December 20. It is anticipated the damage bill could reach more than $100 million.

Car dealerships, also severely hit in Sydney’s 1999 hailstorm, could submit claims to the tune of around $50 million, illustrating the extent to which small businesses can be exposed to risk and damage during extreme weather events.

“In big events like these, the resources might not be available to immediately secure a damaged roof. But it is important that it is attended to in reasonable time, and that it isn’t left for months. Because if it is, that could affect your claim”

Which is why it is vital to be proactive in mitigating your business’ loss in such situations, in order to meet your insurance obligations and return to business as usual as soon as possible.

To view the full article, please visit Steadfast Well Covered here.