A s hacking hit the headlines in the last few years — most recently the global hack in May that targeted companies both large and small — insurance policies to protect businesses against damage and lawsuits have become a very lucrative business indeed. Your company may already have cyber insurance, and that’s a good thing. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t have a job to do — or that the insurance will cover you no matter what.

When you buy a car, you get the warranty. But in order to keep that warranty valid, you have to perform regular maintenance at regularly scheduled times. If you neglect the car, and something fails, the warranty won’t cover it. You didn’t do your job, and the warranty only covers cars that have been taken care of.

Cyber insurance works the same way. If your company’s IT team isn’t keeping systems patched and up to date, taking active measures to prevent ransomware and other cybercrime attacks, and backing everything up in duplicate, it’s a lot like neglecting to maintain that car. And when something bad happens, like a cyber attack, the cyber insurance policy won’t be able to help you, just as a warranty policy won’t cover a neglected car. Check out this real life policy exclusion we recently uncovered, which doesn’t cover damages “arising out of or resulting from the failure to, within a reasonable period of time, install customary software product updates and releases, or apply customary security-related software patches, to computers and other components of computer systems.” If your cyber insurance policy has a clause like that — and we guarantee that it does — then you’re only going to be able to collect if you take reasonable steps to prevent the crime in the first place. That doesn’t just mean you will have to pay a ransom out of pocket, by the way. If your security breach leaves client and partner data vulnerable, you could be sued for failing to protect that data. When your cyber insurance policy is voided because of IT security negligence, you won’t be covered against legal damages, either. This is not the kind of position you want to be in.

All of this is not to say that you shouldn’t have cyber insurance, or that it’s not going to pay out in the case of an unfortunate cyber event. It’s just a reminder that your job doesn’t end when you sign that insurance policy. You still have to make a reasonable effort to keep your systems secure — an effort you should be making anyway.


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Shiny New Gadget Of The Month:

Alexa, Who’s Winning the Virtual Assistant War?

There are multiple companies trying to break into the “smart home hub” market, but Amazon’s Echo (and its sultry Alexa) are holding on to 70 percent of the market share, and it doesn’t look like that’s changing any time soon. That’s a clear sign of victory for Amazon - and a wake-up call for its competitors.

The voice-activated home assistant market is growing, with almost a third of millennials likely to use a home assistant this year. While it might take a decade or more for the devices to find their way into the homes of older demographics (a situation Saturday Night Live has already mined for comedy), it seems that smart hubs will only increase in popularity from here on out, and that Alexa is poised to rule them all.


How Small Businesses Should Budget For IT Expenses

We posted this article in January but felt the need to post it again. “How should I properly budget for IT expenses?” While this is a great question, there are a lot of variables that determine the answer, so I can’t provide a “one-size-fits-all,” simple answer. However, below are some general guidelines that should help you figure this out:

Hardware Refresh. No one likes the cost of a network upgrade, but it IS necessary approximately once every 3 to 4 years. PCs and servers older than that tend to run slow, crash frequently and generally become more expensive to fix and support than to replace. Therefore, your budget should include an IT refresh of all equipment every 3 years to be on the safe side.

Maintenance. There is no “set it and forget it” when it comes to network maintenance. With cyber criminals becoming more sophisticated and aggressive, you MUST constantly monitor and update your network against cyber-attacks, malware, data loss, etc.

Data Backup. Another expense you must account for is backing up your data to an offsite location (often called “cloud backup”). Since all businesses generate MORE data year after year, the backup will grow. Start by assessing the growth of your data over the last couple of years to uncover a trend. From there, forecast those additional expenses going forward at the same rate (don’t expect this to stay static year after year).

Expansion. Another factor for your IT budget is upgrading software, line of business applications, CRM systems, and accounting packages that can no longer support your growing company. As your company grows, systems, processes and data become more complex requiring more sophisticated (and often more expensive) software and systems. Make sure you are looking ahead year upon year to see this coming and to properly budget for it. There’s no “magic” formula for this because the timing and cost of your upgrade is unique to your company, situation and what you are trying to accomplish.

Many of our clients have opted for our All Inclusive Managed Services plan as an easy way to budget for IT but one size does not fit all. We will work with you to develop a plan that works for your business.

Call us today at 520-428-3912 to find out more about our different managed services plans and see which would be a great fit for your practice!


How To Prevent ATM Skimming

This is a crime that affects just about everyone. I had my CREDIT CARD skimmed at a local gas station a few years back. The thieves charged close to $10,000 on my card that day. Luckily I was able to have the charges reversed. I understand now that if your ATM card is skimmed, the bank will be less likely to refund your money. For this reason I never use my ATM card at a convenience store or gas pump. If you have a debit card that can be used as a credit card, use it as a credit card. This will allow you to dispute the charges with your bank and claim fraud. Because ATM cards are authenticated with a 4 digit PIN, the swiper copies the PIN and the criminals can properly authenticate the card with your PIN. It’s much harder to prove fraud since the ATM card was properly authenticated. Check with your bank and understand what their fraud policy is for ATM skimming.

Over a billion dollars are lost each year in the United States through “ATM Skimming” – far more than any losses from bank robberies – and it’s growing at a rate of more than 10% every year.

ATM Skimming is a cybercrime where the criminals steal (or “skim”) your ATM/debit card data when you’re using a typical ATM machine. They do this by fitting a small card reader over the typical ATM card slot, thus capturing your information. Additionally, the criminals install mini cameras above or near the ATM to capture your PIN number. The data is then transmitted via Bluetooth to the cybercriminals somewhere nearby. The average skimming attack usually lasts only an hour or two during peak ATM usage times (i.e. lunch hour or after work). Meanwhile, you have no idea that you’ve just been had and are at risk. These cybercriminals will then sell the data on the cards to others so that they can either clone your debit card or wipe out your bank account.

5 Tips To Prevent ATM Skimming

Cover your hand as you type. Obstructing the view of your pin from any cameras will render your data useless.

Pay attention to the area around the ATM card slot. If anything looks loose or out of place, pull to see if you can remove it.

Be aware of surroundings. Be extra careful of ATMs in dark or isolated places.

Does the machine look different? If anything looks out of place (extra signage, mirrors, etc.) then avoid the machine.

Notify the bank. If you find or suspect an ATM has been compromised, notify your bank and law enforcement immediately

Get a Refund If Your Child Made In-App Purchases From Amazon. Some game apps allow you to buy stars, donuts, coins, or other tokens you can use to play the game. The tokens are imaginary, but the purchase is real. It’s easy for kids to buy stuff within these apps without realizing they’re spending money—your money. Last year, the FTC found Amazon liable for billing parents for these types of purchases, and the online retailer has now settled with the FTC, agreeing to refund these purchases. If your kid has purchased stuff without your permission via an app purchased on Kindle or the Amazon Android app store, you might be eligible for a refund. As Consumerist reports, you should get an email directly from Amazon, but you can also visit the Message Center in your Amazon account and find information under “Important Messages.” - Lifehacker.com – June 1, 2017