What do you think of when you hear the word, “Halloween?”

As a parent my first thought goes to child safety.  Protecting children from predators, reviewing treats for anything harmful and anticipating the high amount of sugar our children will consume – are real and valid concerns.  My biggest fear is always how we can keep children and parents safe as they go from house to house at dusk or even in the dark.  Fortunately, there are some simple steps we can take to keep everyone safe during this family fun holiday.

Drivers:

  • Know the trick or treating dates and times in your community. Due to school schedules, many communities observe trick or treating on the weekends.
  • Drive with your lights on – even if it is not yet dark.
  • Don’t be distracted by using your phone or other devices.
  • Drive below the posted speed limits, especially in residential neighborhoods.
  • Watch out for pedestrians walking on or crossing the streets.
  • Watch for children as they’ll often dart between parked cars. This is an exciting time and, in their enthusiasm, they may forget to look both ways.
  • Look out for children wearing dark costumes, especially at night.
  • Use extra caution when making turns into driveways and neighborhoods.

Parents:

  • Every child under age 12 should be accompanied by an adult.
  • Develop a planned trick-or-treating route with your children ahead of time.
  • Educate and remind your children about pedestrian safety.
  • Use sidewalks instead of roads, and crosswalks rather than running across the street. Walk, don’t run, especially from between parked cars.
  • Instruct children to be aware of vehicles while crossing the street -- and always look both ways.
  • Wear light-colored clothing so you’re more visible. Clothing should be short enough that it will not pose a tripping hazard.
  • Carry a flashlight.
  • Make sure masks don’t obstruct your child’s vision. Consider using makeup instead of masks.

Halloween is an exciting time of year for both children and parents.  From minions to motorists, safety is everyone’s responsibility.

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               Cheri Plummer

                Lee/O’Keefe Insurance Agency

                2501 Chatham Road

                Springfield, IL 62704

                217-528-5679 ext. 111

               This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Just what is a “Cyber Event,” and why do I need to care?

Equifax…

Just one, three-syllable word, now sums it all up.

Reports state that as many as 143 million people could have had their Personally-Identifiable Information (PII) compromised as a result of this far-reaching data breach.  One hundred and forty-three million – think about that.  Illinois’ total population is 12,800,000.  One data breach affected a group of people more than ELEVEN TIMES the number of people who live in the nation’s fifth most populous state.

Put another way, with the U.S. population now at 308.7 million people, this breach affected a number of people equaling 46 percent of the entire U.S. population.

So what is a data breach?

A data breach is an incident in which sensitive, protected or confidential data has potentially been viewed, stolen or used by an individual unauthorized to do so.  Data breaches may involve personal health information (PHI), (PII), trade secrets or intellectual property.  (http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/definition/data-breach).

How in the world does this happen?

Cyber breaches can occur because of employee negligence, business email compromise (wire transfers at the behest of someone posing as a business officer), ransomware, hacking, and physical theft of computing hardware or smart devices like phones or tablets.

How common is it, really?

According to a recent study by Hiscox, 68 percent of small businesses and 72 percent of large businesses have suffered a cyberattack in the last 12 months.  Now, go back and read that again and let those numbers sink in….One cyber-attack can cost a mid-sized business between $84,000 and $148,000, according to UPS Capital, a division of UPS in the financial services business.  And when large-scale attacks on industry giants (like Equifax) are factored in, the average price of a data breach is about $4 million.  But keep in mind; nearly two-thirds of cyberattacks are perpetrated on small and medium-sized businesses, putting them at the forefront of the activity.”

What will have to happen if my business suffers a breach?

Did you know there is an Illinois law with responsibilities for those who, “handle, collect, disseminate, or otherwise deal with nonpublic personal information?”  It’s called 815 ILCS 530/1-50, or, in English, the Personal Information Protection Act.  If you have had – or think you have had – a breach, you have work to do.  Oh, and that work is going to be time-consuming, highly technical, and expensive.

At his point, I’m going to quote the actor, Bill Paxton in the movie, Titanic, “All right, you have my attention Rose.” 

 

So what do I do about all of this?

First and foremost, institute and practice a business-wide policy of strict password protection, device security, and software updates.  Don’t let, “Yeah, I’ll get to it-itis” result in you or your employees not installing updates when they need to be installed.  This opens vulnerabilities easily exploited by would-be hackers.  In fact, Equifax told USA Today their breach was due to an Apache Struts (Java web application) vulnerability.  If it was an older, known, vulnerability, this may have been prevented by an already available patch.

Jealously guard and protect you customers’ PII while it is in your possession.  Don’t leave it lying around in paper form.  Lock it up at night.  Encrypt it on your devices, segment your networks, and make sure you control who has access to your system.

Finally, you can insure your business against the possibility of a breach.  These policies are available in a variety of formats, limits, and with a host of coverages.  Essentially, though, they fall into two categories: first-party and third-party coverage.  First-party coverage pays to put your business back in order.  The product can include coverage for cyber extortion, breach notification mailings, call center support, public relations, credit monitoring, and income and digital-asset restoration.  Third-party coverage considers consequences like litigation, regulatory fines and investigation.

Now that you know what it is, the harm it can do, and that you have a legal duty to act, caring should become a whole lot easier!

Carl J. Weitzel

Lee-O’Keefe Insurance Agency

2501 Chatham Road

Springfield, IL 62704

217-528-5679 ext 106

Cell: 217-299-1009

Dangerous driving

 By Leslie Caveny

 

Dangerous driving comes in many forms, which can be easily avoided. At this time of year, when the roads are affected by snow and/or frost, it’s even more imperative to act responsibly when driving – not just for the safety of you and your passengers, but also the safety of fellow motorists.

Here are some of the most concerning behaviors adopted by drivers, which are easy to avoid. According to the National Safety Council, texting while driving accounts for 330,000 accidents annually in the US – equivalent to 25% of all road incidents.

The Protection Your Business Needs

By Carl Weitzel

Owning a business is a huge financial investment. Starting, developing, and expanding a business requires the acquisition of property that includes office space or buildings, computers, furniture, equipment, and inventory. For many businesses, such as manufacturing plants and distributors with sprawling warehouses, this can equate to millions of dollars in equipment alone. The loss of these items would be a major blow to any sized business and, in many cases, could lead to closure without the protective coverage of property insurance.

Commercial property insurance safeguards your business from events such as fire theft, vandalism, or windstorms (review your coverage or speak with us today to find out what is covered under your policy) and the insurance premium can typically be expensed. Beyond being a good hedge against loss for the business owner, most mortgage and business loan lenders require proof of commercial property insurance that protects their investment as well. Further, policies can be written to include business interruption insurance, which covers lost revenue – and more – in the event, a covered event halts business operations.

Identity Theft – Online Christmas Shopping

By Carl Weitzel

The last of the Halloween candy is dwindling, the “free turkey with purchase” ads are in full swing, and retailers have their holiday decorations ablaze. Perhaps you have started your Christmas shopping. Maybe you are one of those devoted go-getters already putting the finishing touches on your list or, maybe you enjoy the crush of the last-minute binge.

Whatever your style, The National Retail Federation knows this – almost half of all holiday shopping will be done online (NRF, October 20, 2015). Although I’m a devoted local shopper, sometimes that one unique item can only be found at www.icantfinditanywhereelse.com Let’s face it, browsing and buying on the web can save you time and money. Unfortunately, this convenience comes with vulnerabilities, namely, personal information security. When searching for that perfect deal, you may be tempted to visit some not-so-professional looking sites or might fall victim to a mass security breach.

 

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Lee/O'Keefe Insurance Agency, Inc.
2501 Chatham Road - Suite 100
Springfield, Illinois 62704

Hours: Monday - Friday 8am - 4:30pm

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