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Don’t Bite the Bait: Protect Organizations From Phishing Attacks

One the One Friday afternoon, the treasurer of Platte County, Mo., received an email from the presiding commissioner, requesting the immediate transfer of funds to an out-of-state consultant. The treasurer tried to verify the request, but the commissioner was away on vacation and not easily reachable. Driven by the urgency of the email, the treasurer arranged the transfer without waiting for an appropriate response, overriding county procedures designed to prevent illegitimate movement of funds. Then he got a call from the commissioner, who was totally unaware of the request. And just like that, the county lost $48,000 to a cyber criminal in a single afternoon. The “Kansas City Star” reported this incident just days after the loss.

Deception fraud or social engineering fraud is the 21st century version of an ancient con game, only now it’s played out much faster using electronic communications,” said Mike Kosednar, assistant vice president and product manager for management and professional liability insurance, The Hartford. “Email inherently carries an element of urgency, and the fraudsters prey on our desire to respond quickly, especially to emails from the boss.” Losses from social engineering, specifically phishing scams, have skyrocketed as cyber thieves grow adept at mimicking internal emails.

According to statistics gathered by the FBI, law enforcement agencies across the globe received reports from 17,642 victims from October 2013 through February 2016, resulting in more than $2.3 billion in losses. Since January 2015, the FBI has seen a 270 percent increase in identified victims and exposed loss, according to the FBI’s Cleveland division. And the phishers aren’t just targeting organizations with deep pockets. Social engineering fraud can hit companies of all sizes. “While a large public company may have a loss exceeding eight figures, for a smaller business, getting tricked into sending $6,000 or $7,000 can be significant,” Kosednar said. It’s relatively easy for cyber thieves to identify the CEO or CFO at their target company and then emulate their email style, mimicking their tone and signature, and making it appear as though the message is coming from the company’s server.

While there are several technology solutions that companies can implement to enhance their system security, such as continually updated firewalls; the use of closed, private Wi-Fi networks; requiring a two-factor authentication for log-in; or third-party testing of firewalls, these safeguards are expected — any business operating in today’s digitized world knows it needs to pay attention to its IT security. Human error is often a bigger risk. “In social engineering fraud, the weakest link in the security chain is the employee who accepts a scenario at face value and doesn’t check its legitimacy,” said Kosednar, “A willingness to please can undermine common sense.” The best defense against these insidious attacks, therefore, is employee education and training. According to Kosednar, training requires — at a minimum — a three pronged approach:

  1. Establish a process. Companies can identify fraudulent requests by developing a formal procedure around the transfer of funds that limits transfer ability to a small number of employees and requires a next-level supervisor to sign off on the request. It should also involve independent verification of the email’s sender. “Verification needs to be made to predetermined email addresses and phone numbers and not by hitting ‘reply’ or calling a phone number provided as part of the request.”
  2. Regular reinforcement. Constant reminders emphasize the importance of following proper procedures in every situation. Some companies choose to do this by randomly testing their employees with bogus emails. The company might send a message that appears to be from a senior manager, imploring staff to click on a suspicious looking link, for example. “Seeing the percentage of employees that failed helps determine additional training needs,” Kosednar said. “This should include a heart-to-heart conversation with the employees who failed, which should be constructive and encourage them to speak up and ask questions when they suspect they’ve received a fraudulent email.”
  3. Change your culture. Since social engineering fraud is often most successful at companies where questioning one’s superiors is frowned upon, companies can create an environment where it is acceptable and even encouraged for employees to double-check a wire transfer request from anyone regardless of their rank.

Information courtesy of The Hartford

Tips To Keep Burglars Out!

The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that there are over 2 million burglaries per year in the United States. Nearly two-thirds of these burglaries occur in residences. Approximately 30 percent of all burglaries happen through an open or unlocked window or door. A home burglary occurs every 13 seconds in America.

There are numerous things a home owner can do to reduce his or her chance of being a victim of this unfortunate crime, including the following.

  • Keep your windows and doors locked, since burglars obviously prefer easy access.
  • Install heavy-duty exterior doors.
  • Safeguard doors with extra-long screws and high-quality door locks.
  • Utilize a motion-sensing switch for your outdoor lights.
  • Trim your shrubs and bushes so that windows and doors can easily be seen from the street.
  • Ask for a crime assessment inspection of your home from your local police department. They are typically available free of charge.
  • Keep your garage door closed, even when you are inside your residence.
  • Utilize a property identification marking system for your valuable possessions.
  • Store small valuables, such as rare coins and expensive jewelry (that you do not typically wear), in a safe-deposit box at your bank.

Copyright 2016, International Risk Management Institute, Inc.

Watch Out For Deer

November brings the annual convergence of the deer hunting season and the deer mating season.  These two activities tend to generate crazy deer who jump in front of cars so exercise extra caution the next few weeks and watch out for deer!

Watch Out For DeerHere are some additional tips to stay safe on the road this fall:

  • Slow down, it’s better to arrive alive and the slower you’re going during a collision the less likely you are to be seriously injured…or worse.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Deer tend to cross roads near streams or areas where woods are situated close to roadways.
  • Deer usually travel in groups. If you see one or more deer run safely past…watch out because there may be more.
  • In recent years the deer population has skyrocketed in urban and suburban areas. According to the Missouri Department of Insurance 26% of deer-related accidents in 2013 occurred in urban areas.
  • Avoid ‘highway hypnosis’…scan the road from ditch to ditch as you drive.
  • Don’t swerve abruptly.  Sometimes hitting the deer is your safest option if the alternative is rolling your vehicle or swerving into oncoming traffic.
  • Be extra careful from just before dusk to just after dawn as most deer strikes occur between 5 p.m. and 7 a.m. The majority of accidents involving deer occur between October and December and November is the worst month.

Final watch out for deer tip:  If you want coverage for your car after running into that crazy, suicidal deer…make sure that you have ‘comprehensive’ or ‘other than collision’ coverage on your vehicle.


Exercise Care on Freeways

Exercise Care on Freeways

Automobile accidents are a major cause of death in the United States. They are the single most common cause of death among children and young adults, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

A high percentage of these automobile accident deaths occur on our nation’s freeways and highways due to the high rates of speed encountered. There are, however, steps you can take to reduce your chances of becoming a victim on the freeway, including the following.

  • When you merge onto the freeway, you should be at average traffic speed.
  • When in the right lane of a freeway, move over one lane to the left when you see drivers coming into traffic from the entrance ramp. If this is not possible, slow down to give the entering driver more room.
  • Allow plenty of room between you and other vehicles. Many driving experts advocate the two-second rule. Under this rule, you should start counting when you see the vehicle in front of you pass a fixed object. Count “one thousand one, one thousand two.” If you reach the fixed object before “two,” you are following too closely.
  • Try to maintain average traffic speed. Vehicles going much slower or faster than other traffic are a recipe for an accident. Common sense, however, regarding speeding laws must also be considered.
  • You should use extra caution when driving at night or in bad weather. Remember that many drivers do not adjust their driving habits for the weather or bad road conditions.
  • Avoid any sudden moves, since this does not give other drivers time to react.
  • Continuously scan the roadway ahead of you for signs of trouble, including construction and traffic slowdowns.
  • Be aware of the positions of other drivers around you, particularly those beside you or slightly to the rear. Make sure that your rearview mirrors are properly adjusted before you drive your car.
  • Remember that your reaction time and overall driving skills decline as you get tired. Breaks every few hours are important.
  • When exiting the freeway, be sure to signal well in advance. Do not slow down significantly until you start to turn off the freeway.

Copyright 2014
International Risk Management Institute, Inc.

Become a Safety Fanatic and Save

At Yennie & Jones Insurance we want to help our clients with employees protect not only their bottom line, but also their people. That’s why we encourage you to participate in Missouri Employers Mutual’s WorkSAFE Week Aug. 18-22. Missouri Employers Mutual has great tools to help you become a Safety Fanatic and eliminate these top workplace accidents whether we have your workers compensation insurance protection placed with MEM or another of our highly rated workers compensation companies:

  • Slips and falls
  • Vehicle crashes
  • Strains and sprains
  • Machine/tool related injuries

Check out MEM’s materials at Passion For Safety today.

Carbon Monoxide Safety In The Home

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