October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month

NCSAM
The White House has named the month of October National Cyber Security Awareness Month. With recent data breaches of Home Depot, Target and Jimmy Johns it seems like there is a new data breach in the news weekly. There are some steps that you can take to protect your business from a cyber attack.

10 Ways to Prevent Cyber Attacks

1.Train employees in cyber security principles.
2.Install, use and regularly update antivirus and antispyware software on every computer used in your business.
3.Use a firewall for your Internet connection.
4.Download and install software updates for your operating systems and applications as they become available.
5.Make backup copies of important business data and information.
6.Control physical access to your computers and network components.
7.Secure your Wi-Fi networks. If you have a Wi-Fi network for your workplace make sure it is secure and hidden.
8.Require individual user accounts for each employee.
9.Limit employee access to data and information, and limit authority to install software.
10.Regularly change passwords.

In addition to the listed tips, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) provides a tool for small businesses that can create and save a custom cyber security plan for your company, choosing from a menu of expert advice to address your specific business needs and concerns. It can be found at http://www.fcc.gov/cyberplanner.

Your Emerging Technology Partner
A data breach could cripple your small business, costing you thousands or millions of dollars in lost sales and/or damages. Contact AssureSouth today. We have the tools necessary to ensure you have the proper coverage to protect your company against losses from cyber attacks.

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How Home Depot Was Hacked

home depot
Just eight months after Target suffered one of the biggest retail hacking attacks in history, Home Depot announced this month that it too had been hacked. Signs of the attack were discovered by security researcher Brian Krebs after learning that Home Depot was receiving calls from banks and law enforcement about suspicious transactions. According to the continuing investigation, the hackers may have had access to cards for the last six months.
It is not yet known how many credit and debit cards were stolen, but according to Home Depot, there is no evidence that debit card PINs were compromised. However, it is believed that hackers are creating counterfeit cards based on the ones stolen from Home Depot customers. Hackers can then change the PIN number and make withdrawals at ATM machines. Hackers continue to sell stolen card data and the cardholder’s personal information on international crime websites.
It appears that hackers used point-of-sale (POS) malware to gain access to Home Depot card terminals. The malware, known as FrameworkPOS, is thought to be based on a similar type of malware used in the Target breach, known as BlackPOS. The malware attacks POS terminals using a Windows operating system. Originally, researchers believed that the similarities between the two types of malware hinted at the possibility that the same hackers attacked both Target and Home Depot. However, it is now believed that differences between the two are significant enough to indicate that separate groups carried out the attacks.
Home Depot says only customers who recently shopped in their brick-and-mortar stores in the United States and Canada are at risk—there has been no evidence of theft for online shoppers. In response to the breach, Home Depot is offering free credit monitoring and identity theft protection for its customers. The Atlanta-based company has also replaced many of its card-swiping machines with new machines that accept more secure chip-enabled cards.
Companies that house credit and debit card data and personal information about millions of customers will undoubtedly continue to be major targets for hackers. Within the past year, Home Depot, Target, Albertson’s, P.F. Chang’s and Neiman Marcus have all been breached—as well as others that . As a consumer, there isn’t a whole lot you can do to prevent this from happening, but there are ways you can prepare your business in case it gets breached:
• Regularly monitor your bank accounts and credit card statements for unusual activity. Often, credit card companies will notice fraudulent charges, but they can’t catch everything. Vigilance is key.
• If your company uses POS terminals, always ensure they have the latest anti-virus software installed.
• Make sure your employees are well trained on how to protect company data. Teach them about social engineering risks, how to pick proper passwords and about bring-your-own-device protocols.

All About Life Insurance

motherhood

September is Life Insurance Awareness Month. This month we will be featuring articles on the blog to help you understand how much life insurance you may need, when you should purchase life insurance as well as the different types of life insurance.

If others depend on you for financial support, part of your financial plan should include how you will provide for them in the event of your death. Purchasing a life insurance policy is a safety net that ensures your loved one’s future financial obligations are met, covering items such as funeral costs, outstanding debt, estate taxes and everyday living expenses.

If you are married, it’s important for both spouses to have a life insurance policy. If both people bring in an income, a death can be a difficult financial loss. Also, if a stay-at-home parent should pass away, expenses such as childcare and other domestic items can create financial hardship, too.

There are two basic types of life insurance: term life insurance and permanent life insurance. The type of life insurance policy that best suits you will depend on your unique needs. To help you decide, we’ve covered the basics.

 

Option #1: Term Life Insurance

Just as its name implies, term life insurance covers you for a specific period of time, or term, that you choose. Since it offers a death benefit but no cash value, term life insurance is an inexpensive way to protect your beneficiaries for a specified period of time.

It is ideal for those who have a temporary need for life insurance protection, for those who need a large amount of insurance protection but have limited cash or for those with specific business needs, such as additional coverage for a key employee.

Renewal term life insurance can be renewed at the end of the term, at the option of the policyholder and without evidence of insurability, for a limited number of successive terms. It can also be converted, or exchanged for a permanent insurance policy, without evidence of insurability down the road.

With term life insurance, once the term expires, your coverage ceases and the policy has no further value. It’s important to note that rates generally increase along with the insured’s age.

Option #2: Whole Life Insurance

Permanent life insurance is any form of life insurance other than term. Examples are whole life, universal life and variable life. These policies combine term life insurance with a long-term, tax-sheltered savings plan.

Whole life is the most basic type of permanent life insurance. It provides coverage that lasts a lifetime and also builds up a cash value that you can borrow against, withdraw or use to pay future premiums.

A life insurance policy with a cash value is ideal for those who have a lifetime need for insurance protection, prefer stable premiums over the life of the policy, want a policy that allows them to build tax-deferred values, and value the high degree of coverage the policy affords. While rates for a whole life insurance policy remain stable over the life of the policy, premiums are initially more costly than for term insurance.

Regardless of whether you choose a term or permanent life insurance policy, both can afford protection and peace of mind knowing you have the coverage when you need it most. Call us today at 864-582-5481 to learn more.

 

Why do you need flood insurance?

Rising waters this weekend in the Upstate caught many people off guard.  Many people don’t realize that flooding is not covered by most standard homeowners policies.  The following is a real life example of what can happen if you don’t have flood insurance- even if you live in an area that is not prone to flooding.

When floodwater from a severe, week-long storm started pouring through the walls of Becky Bentley’s house, she knew she had to get out fast. In the short time it took her and her son to run upstairs to grab the family cat, the rapidly rising water trapped them on the second floor of their home.

With the help of a neighbor, they manage to escape. But when the water receded and Becky finally returned to her Atlanta property, she discovered most of the contents and drywall were unsalvageable. She thought her homeowners insurance would cover the losses; but found out most standard homeowners policies do not cover flood damage.

“The water got so high, everything was just destroyed,” Becky told the National Flood Insurance Program. “I didn’t have flood insurance because I wasn’t in a flood plain, so we were told we didn’t need it.”

Floods are the number one natural disaster in the United States. While some regions, such as coastal areas, are more flood-prone than others, the unpredictability of climate change exposes all property to some risk. And torrential rainfall isn’t the only culprit. Flooding is also caused by mudflows, rapid snowmelt during spring and ice jams during winter.

Even an inch of water can cause thousands of dollars in damage, shocking those who find out flood losses are specifically excluded from their homeowners and personal umbrella policies.

Flood insurance provides the protection you need to cover losses after a flood ravages your property. The cost of premiums vary based on the amount of coverage you need, what’s covered and your property’s flood risk.

New flood insurance policies usually have a 30-day waiting period, so don’t delay in protecting one of your most valuable assets—your home. Contact AssureSouth today for more information on flood insurance.

 

Check out this news story and video from WSPA-

Flood Insurance, What You Need To Know

Help your body out, protect yourself from the summer heat

bright-sun
While the summer sun can be a welcome arrival after a dreary winter, it is important to keep the summer heat from getting the best of you. The human body can do funny things when exposed to high temperatures. To diminish its effect, remember these tips next time you’re exposed to summer heat.
Stay Hydrated – Make sure you are drinking water continually, even if you are not thirsty. By the time your body triggers thirst, you may already be on the way to dehydration. Avoid beverages with alcohol and caffeine as they can increase chances of dehydration.
 Dress Appropriately – Lightweight clothing allows heat to escape from the body, and light-colored materials reflect the sun, decreasing heat absorption.
Avoid Overwork – Avoid strenuous activities during times of peak heat, especially midday. If possible, save outside tasks for early morning or evening hours.

 

We hope everyone is staying healthy and safe this summer!

 

 

How Bad is Sitting?

chair

How Bad Is Sitting?
Some doctors are saying that sitting is the new smoking. According to the Mayo Clinic, sitting, like smoking, is a pervasive problem that harms your health. Approximately 80 percent of Americans work a non-active job, making all-day sitting a common occurrence.
Lengthy, uninterrupted periods of sitting cause poor circulation and low calorie burn and are linked to various health problems, including obesity, hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as well as stiffness, headaches and sluggishness.

Your job may require you to spend a considerable amount of time at a desk, or maybe you’re fond of all-day movie marathons. Try these tips to sit less, move more and improve your health:

• Stand while talking on the phone or watching television.
• Have a walking or standing meeting at work.
• Stand up and stretch at least every hour.
• Wear a pedometer and find ways to add steps into your daily routine.
• Take the stairs when possible.
• Consider walking or biking when commuting to work or running errands

Preparing Your Child for College

college-ready
A Few Tips for the College-Bound

College is expensive enough without the added cost of unexpected accidents or theft, not covered by your insurance policy.

How does having a child in college raise insurance considerations? The average college student will bring between $5,000 and $10,000 worth of personal property to college — ranging from technology, electronics and textbooks to clothing, furniture and bicycles. Most students will suffer a loss at least once, with the most common cause being theft and the most severe being fire and weather events.

The points below highlight some of the things that you should consider before sending your child to college.

HOMEOWNERS
• Personal Property: Most homeowners policies will cover personal property for up to 10% of your total policy while your child is residing at school (a $100,000 policy equals $10,000 in coverage). Not all types of damage are covered, so read your policy carefully. Some items such as jewelry or expensive electronics, require special coverage. Renters insurance is strongly recommended.
• Liability Coverage: General damage to a dorm room or apartment is not usually covered.
• Documentation: Creating an inventory of the items your child is taking to school is a good idea. Use photographs and keep receipts.

AUTO
• Car Stays Home: Keep your child listed on your auto policy if they will still drive your car while at home on school breaks.
• Car at School: Make sure to notify us if your child will be taking a car away to school. In most cases, if the car is registered to you and listed on your policy, it will be covered.
• Driving a Friend’s Car: Students are generally covered if they are listed on their parent’s policy and are not regularly using the vehicle. The coverage would be secondary. The insurance for the friend’s vehicle would be the primary coverage.
• Discounts: A full-time student meeting certain academic requirements can qualify for a good student discount. Distant student discounts may also be available. Drivers under 21 who have completed driver’s education may also get a discount.

IDENTITY THEFT
The 18-29 year-old age bracket accounts for 24 percent of all identity theft complaints, according to the Federal Trade Commission.  Before sending a child off to college, parents should take time to educate him or her about the potential lasting issues created by identity theft.
The insurer advises students not to carry social security cards or even the social security number. Students should also be wary of peer-to-peer sharing programs at school that create easy, unauthorized access to a computer. The insurer also advises students to avoid sharing credit cards, identification cards or PIN numbers with anyone, even a friend.

UNFORESEEN TRAGEDY
Since most college students are considered dependents, they are covered by their parents’ home and auto policy, which also means their parents can be held responsible for their actions.
For example, if a student hosts a party in a dorm or apartment, the parents could be held responsible for a variety of tragic outcomes. An umbrella policy creates an extra buffer to protect valuable assets like their home. These policies can be purchased for a few hundred dollars to provide coverage for legal judgments that exceed the standard auto or homeowners policy level.

We can walk you through the steps to ensure you have the right coverage. We’re here to help!