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Our news articles are posted on a regular basis to give our clients relevant and timely information about matters pertaining to our financial services. Browse through our current and archived articles to learn more.

Category: Information Technology Services

Commercial Insurance :: What The Weather Experts Are Doing To Prepare For A Worsening Hurricane Season

HurricaneWeather experts predicted a very early and active hurricane season for 2013. The hurricane season lasts for six months and starts on the first day of June. Experts said the chance of having up to 20 storms during those months was about 70 percent. Of these storms, they predicted that up to 11 could become hurricanes, which means the wind gusts would be higher than 74 mph. They also predicted that as many as six of these storms could be major hurricanes. To be considered a major hurricane, a storm must have wind gusts higher than 111 mph. The seasonal average at the time of their prediction was three major hurricanes, six hurricanes and 12 storms.

After several devastating hurricanes hitting the United States
during the past decade, many people become increasingly nervous
when hurricane season arrives each year.

Experts are committed to forecasting these storms as soon as possible to save more lives and minimize damages. It is important for concerned citizens to remember that tropical storms and hurricanes are not exclusive to the coastal areas. As these storms move inland, they bring heavy rainfall, flooding, strong winds and even tornadoes with them.

There are three climate factors affecting how hurricanes form in the Atlantic. These include the following:

  • Water temperatures that are warmer than average in the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Continual atmospheric climate patterns that are part of African monsoons. 
  • No expected development of El Niño to suppress the formation of hurricanes.

Experts say oceanic and atmospheric conditions in the basin of the Atlantic will create stronger hurricanes in larger numbers. These include wind patterns from Africa, warmer water in the Atlantic Ocean and weaker wind shear. Experts are working on ways to improve their storm tracking abilities.

It’s wise to review your insurance coverage and ascertain
that your property, equipment, personal and business operations
are properly covered against loss and failure.

One of the new developments introduced in early 2013 was an improved forecast model. The National Hurricane Center’s communicating procedures and data gathering techniques were also improved. Experts have plans to add a supercomputer that is capable of running upgraded research to depict the structures of storms and forecast their intensity more precisely.

Additional improvements include a Doppler radar that will provide real-time transmissions to aircraft. This will make it easier for forecasters to analyze storms that are moving or developing rapidly. It will help them improve their model forecasts by up to 15 percent. The National Weather Service also made some changes to keep warnings in effect or to be reissued for stronger storms that are changing. The flexibility allows them to provide a continuous stream of warning information to the public.

 

Be prepared for storm and Hurricane season. Be sure to have safety, evacuation and emergency preparedness plans in place. It’s wise to review your insurance coverage and ascertain that your property, equipment, personal and business operations are properly covered against loss and failure. Contact G.R. Reid Insurance Services to review your existing, or speak about new, insurance coverage. 

Contact G.R. Reid to discuss your Information Technology backup support needs. In the event of a major hurricane, be prepared with appropriate computer backup systems to avoid loss of critical digital files and intellectual property. Our I/T Services experts are available to assist you.

 

 

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Commercial Insurance News :: Small Businesses Should Protect Against Data Breaches

What Small Businesses Need to Know to Protect Themselves from Data Breaches 

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According to recent research, almost 50 percent of small businesses in the United States have experienced one or more data breaches. Slightly more than 30 percent of businesses told affected individuals that their personal information had been compromised. Data thieves often target smaller businesses. This is because these companies often do not know how to respond when client information is stolen. By not acting promptly, these companies can harm their own reputations and risk legal penalties in some cases.

A survey of small businesses in the country found that more than 50 percent of respondents had experienced at least one electronic data breach. A slightly smaller percentage experienced multiple data breaches. Although 46 states require companies to notify clients when information is compromised, slightly more than 30 percent actually notified the affected individuals. The main causes of these breaches were contractor or employee errors and procedural mistakes. In addition to this, stolen or lost smart phones, tablets, laptops and storage media were also to blame.

When data is outsourced, sensitive details are more likely to be compromised. Seventy percent of respondents agreed with this statement, but 62 percent of the surveyed companies did not have contracts that required the costs of data breaches to be covered by responsible third parties. About 70 percent of small business owners responded that they would buy insurance to pay for the costs of breaches if necessary. The study showed that more than 80 percent of these companies shared employee and customer records with third parties. Some examples include companies specializing in benefits, payroll, billing and information technology. Each company was asked which type of information would hurt business the most if it was leaked, and 70 percent said that stolen personally identifiable information of clients would be the most detrimental type of data breach. The companies felt that the personal information of customers would be even more harmful to lose in a breach than their own sensitive data.

Data breaches are serious issues, but the statistics show that most companies do not take the threat seriously enough. With cyber-crimes on the rise, it is important for all small businesses to take action. Insurance can be purchased to offset the costs of data breaches. Although preventative steps should be taken wherever possible, insurance is a smart idea. Being prepared is just as important as taking steps to prevent breaches in the first place.

To learn more about these options, contact G.R. Reid Insurance Services.

 

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I/T News :: Take Every Precaution Prior To A Storm: Secure Your Computer Equipment

The following are some precautionary measures that you may want to consider to safeguard your computer equipment at any time of year, but especially when storm warnings are in effect.

The most damaging two things that can happen in a major storm are electrical damage and water damage.

Even though we all do our best to put protections in place, such as Uninterruptible Power Supplies and data backup routines, there is always the chance – especially in a major storm – that those protections can be circumvented or overrun.

In preparation for extended power outages and\or interruptions, you may want to consider the following steps:

  • Make sure to take your backup tape or hard drive with you when you leave the office. If you are using an off-site backup service, double check to make sure it has run successfully.
  • Power down or turn off all computers, servers and electronic equipment such as routers, cable modems, printers and network switches. Start with the workstations, then the server, and finally all other equipment. The most damage to data occurs when a computer shuts off unexpectedly which can cause data loss or corruption.  An Uninterruptible Power Supply (such as an APC UPS) is designed to protect against power surges and spikes and short term power loss.  However, if the outage lasts longer than a few minutes, the battery will be exhausted and the equipment will still shut off, increasing the risk of data loss.
  • To protect from lightning and\or major power spikes, such as from trees falling on power lines, you may want to take the added precaution of physically disconnecting all wires from the back of your equipment.  Even though you may have surge protectors, if the spike is large enough, it can still find its way through the wires.  For example, if there is an unprotected wire connected to the internet or phone system, the power spike can actually travel through ANY connected wire, such as a network cable, and damage the internal components of the system.
  • If you are in a location that is prone to flooding, after you have physically disconnected your computer or server, move it off the floor and onto a higher location or take it off the premises.

The level of precaution you decide to take will surely depend on the storm severity in your area and your own business continuity needs, but we want to communicate the options so that everyone is prepared.

Even with a good data backup, waiting for replacement parts and equipment can cause days or weeks of lost business productivity.  We have found that a few hours of precautionary system downtime can save time piecing things back together afterwards.

Should you decide to shut everything down, when you power everything back up do so in the reverse order that you powered it down.  Start with the miscellaneous equipment (internet devices, printers, etc), then the server, then the workstations.

We strongly advise that if you are not using G.R. Reid for I/T services that you contact your own I/T support company for their approval and recommendations before following these steps.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at 631-923-1595 and speak with our Managing Director of Information Technology Services.

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