Bring-Your-Own-Device to Work: Keep the Productivity, Lose the Headache

By Christine Schindewolf, Client Executive

clock March 13, 2017 at 2:00 PM

It’s hard to believe that not long ago we may have stopped at a gas station for a map or flipped through a Rolodex for a client’s phone number.  Smartphones and other mobile devices like tablets are a part of life.  We do everything from making reservations for a business lunch to sharing our grand opening event on our company Facebook page.  The benefits of having technology at our fingertips at all times are indispensable to our success today. Employers and employees alike rely on smartphones and tablets. Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) is a common and often necessary business practice. But, like any technology used in business, employees’ use of personal mobile devices comes with its own risks. Statutes and laws differ from state to state, but in a nutshell, once an employee uses a personal device to perform work duties, employers may be held accountable for any laws broken through that use.  

While you can’t control everything an employee does on their personal device, there are specific steps you can take to manage your company’s risk.

What poses a significant BYOD risk for a company? The answer is social media and lost devices.

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Topics: Property + Casualty, Technology

Phishing Hackers Targeting W-2s This Tax Season

By Mike Grant, Principal & Director, Data Breach Practice and Brad Hering, Marketing Executive

clock February 27, 2017 at 2:00 PM

Last year, the IRS estimated income tax fraud would cost taxpayers roughly $21 billion[1]. The upcoming tax season is expected to bring more losses from phishing scams due to the amount of personal information (W-2s, tax returns, social security numbers, etc.) circulating during tax season and the increased sophistication of the attacks.

Hackers use phishing emails to convince employees (typically in the Human Resources or Finance departments) to send over personal information about employees, often by email. These types of emails are deceiving, with many disguised to look like they are coming from company executives, such as the CEO. Once received by the hacker, this personal information allows them to file a tax return, cash in on someone’s tax refund or steal their identity.  The process is quick as hackers have machines set up to take advantage of this information almost as soon as they receive it.

Common Phishing Emails

The IRS reported that the following are some common phishing emails to look out for:[2]

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Topics: Property + Casualty, Cyber & Data Security, Technology

Taming the Tech Beast: Introducing Barney & Barney’s Tech Advisor Service for Human Resources Professionals

By Shawn Pynes, Principal, Director of Employee Benefits Division

clock April 25, 2016 at 10:00 AM

The Affordable Care Act has imposed many new healthcare requirements impacting the already complex world of benefits administration and overloading human resources professionals even further. Employers have responded in a variety of ways, including implementing new technologies to manage the additional workload.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Technology

Employee Benefits: How High-Growth Tech Companies Can Compete

By Adam Moise, Principal

clock December 7, 2015 at 10:00 AM

Small and midsized tech companies face many challenges, but none may be as difficult as attracting and retaining talent. The task is especially difficult given what these high-growth companies are up against in Silicon Valley. Consider the following: 

  • Google offers one-on-one consultations to new parents to help them find child care facilities
  • Intuit has onsite fitness centers for employees and offers $650 for gym memberships and exercise class fees
  • Netflix now offers a year of paid maternity and paternity leave for salaried employees
  • Twitter employees receive Zipcar discounts, access to in-office yoga and Pilates classes, and dry cleaning and laundry services

In addition to competing against cash-rich tech companies, smaller firms are grappling with increasing healthcare costs and are stuck in a new pricing system that doesn’t allow for effective rate negotiation. According to a survey by Mercer, a Barney & Barney sister company, employers predict that health benefit cost per employee will rise by 4.2% on average in 2016 after they make benefit plan changes, such as raising deductibles or switching carriers. This is consistent with actual cost growth in 2014 (3.9%) and the expected cost growth for 2015.

Band Together

So how does a promising tech company bring in the talent it needs when the tech giants are grabbing up the skilled employees with higher salaries, generous 401(k) plans, and impressive healthcare benefits?

One way small and midsized technology companies can compete is to take advantage of a small business trust.  A relatively new way to lower employee benefit costs, tech companies are pooling their collective buying power to compete with the giants on robust healthcare benefits.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Human Resources, Technology

Why You Need An Employee Benefits App

By Madalyn Altschuler, Manager, MarketLink & Benefits Communications

clock April 27, 2015 at 10:00 AM

How much would your employees appreciate a cool new, employee benefits app?

Consider the following:

  • Over 70% of the U.S. population owns a smartphone¹
  • Mobile users check those smartphones 40 to 100 times each day¹
  • Four out of five smartphone users wake up and look at their phone within 15 minutes¹

Benefits for All

Today, an easy-to-use benefits app, fully branded with your corporate identity, is one of the best ways for employees to understand their benefit options and for employers to communicate their benefits programs.

Click here to learn more about Barney & Barney’s new, upgraded iBenefits app.

For employers, a benefits app reduces costs, streamlines benefits communication and creates buy-in from employees, who are much more likely to turn to their smartphone for information than anyplace else.

A well-designed, fully-featured app can save your Human Resources team time and also further shift resources to mobile delivery from traditional paper-based employee communications.

A Digital Swiss-Army Knife

An app can store an organization’s entire benefits guide, as well as plan summaries for each benefit offered. For communicating throughout the year, an app can send “push notifications” to employees highlighting important plan changes or other relevant benefits program information. An FAQ residing in the app can also ease the workload on your HR team and minimize inquiries to a call center by making information readily available.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Human Resources, Technology

Cyber Data Breach: Debunking Common Misconceptions

By Mike Grant, Director, Technology Practice

clock February 2, 2015 at 10:00 AM

Due to recent data breaches at big name companies, awareness is high when it comes to cyber threats. Yet, misconceptions abound regarding a company’s liability and how insurance mitigates the cost of a breach.

Misconception #1: “Our company outsources critical processes to cloud providers, credit card processors and other specialty vendors. If a breach occurs, they are liable, not us."

The reality: Forty seven states (and many foreign countries) have their own privacy laws that identify the responsible party in the event of a breach.  Even with many different privacy laws, there is consensus when it comes to identifying the victim and responsible party and your company might not be off the hook the way you would imagine.  

For example, in the case of the Target breach, the crime originated with a HVAC vendor that did business with Target.  While hacking into the vendor’s computers, cyber criminals found a password that allowed them to access the Target IT system.  Once in Target’s system, the hackers dropped in malware that grabbed credit card numbers during transactions made at the store.  This data was then sent outside of Target’s system where the hackers could sell the credit card numbers on the black market.

To uncover the responsible party in this case, ask:  Whose customers’ data was stolen? Who was originally entrusted with that data? 

Although there were plenty of parties involved, Target is ultimately accountable because the victims of the attack are Target customers.  Target is responsible for notifying their patrons of the breach and monitoring their credit.  Throw in the high costs of the forensic investigation, legal services, crisis communication and damage to the brand and the potential loss grows.

While it’s possible for Target to recover some of these costs from the other vendors in the chain, it is dependent on the terms of the signed contract and the financial capability of that vendor to indemnify them. 

Make sure to check out our blog on the common misconception that a company’s current insurance program will help them recover from a data breach. To make sure your organization is prepared for a data breach, stream our seminar, on how to avoid a data breach nightmare and download the MMA 2014 Cyber & Data Security Risk Survey Report.  

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Topics: Property + Casualty, Cyber & Data Security, Technology

Cyber Awakening: 2014 Data & Cyber Risk Report Findings

By Mike Grant, Director, Technology Practice

clock January 12, 2015 at 11:07 AM

It’s no secret that cyber security is a major business concern. After all, every few weeks another massive breach makes front page news. While awareness is high, the real impact to middle market firms gets lost in the big name headlines. In order to identify business practices and trends among emerging and private organizations, Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC, Barney & Barney’s parent company, recently surveyed its nationwide client base on this crucial topic.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the nearly 600 responses:

  • 80% of respondents said their business activities include at least five of the following key cyber risk factors:

-  Processing credit card transactions
-  Holding past or present employee records
-  Processing/accessing banking information
-  Using computers connected to the Internet
-  Hosting websites that collect personal or confidential information
-  Holding client, customer or supplier information
-  Using the Cloud
-  Holding information subject to HIPAA
-  Linking employee laptops/PDAs to the employer's network

  • Most respondents indicated that they outsource many of these business activities that expose them to cyber risk.  Nearly 40% of the respondents have no process to ensure their protection in the event the vendor’s data is breached.  Among those companies that have a procedure, most have processes that are inadequate.
  • Nearly 61% of respondents had little understanding of how their insurance policies would respond to a cyber loss. Of that group, 83% had little to no understanding of cyber insurance policies.
  • 60% of respondents do not have a corporate disaster recovery plan in place.
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Topics: Property + Casualty, Cyber & Data Security, Technology

Insurance Claims Spooky Story #3: The Scary Clown Hacker

By Yvette Beaubien, Esq., Director Property & Casualty Claims

clock October 29, 2014 at 10:19 AM

You sell face paint to retailers and online in the United States, but your supplier is located in a foreign country.  You regularly wire payments to your overseas vendor for face paint.  Scary clowns are all the rage this year and your clown face paint kit is selling like hot cakes—your retailers have placed another purchase order for 100 cases by October 1st. Your supplier needs you to pay past due invoices by the end of day in order to make this deadline. However, your accounts payable clerk and CFO are out of the office attending a seminar. 

You receive the email from the supplier with the amount payable and a notification that the wire transfer account information has changed.  You don’t have time to wait for the CFO and accounts payable clerk to return, so you go ahead and make the payment.  Two days later the supplier emails you to request payment and confirm you still want the product shipped for delivery by October 1st. You check your online bank account and see the money has cleared. The bank confirms that the money was transferred, but to an account in New York.  You go back to the email you received and notice that the sender’s email address was not sam@vendor.com but sam1@vendor.com.  You’ve just been tricked in the worst way.  

To avoid this trick in the future, treat yourself to the following smart business practices:

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Topics: Property + Casualty, Cyber & Data Security, Technology

Insurance Update: 2014 – The Cyber Awakening

By Mike Grant, Director, Technology Practice

clock August 6, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Data breach is a hot topic – and for good reason. Stories about businesses getting hacked are in the news almost every day. And it’s not just large corporations or technology companies that are affected. Any business, large or small, is at risk. According to The Hartford Insurance Company, one third of the data breaches investigated in 2012 took place at organizations with fewer than 100 employees. To hackers, any information is good information, so even small companies are vulnerable.

Why should you be concerned about data breaches? Breaches can have tremendously negative effects on your business, both in terms of cost and damaged reputation. The most obvious is the cost of corrective measures needed in the aftermath of the data breach including forensic investigation, legal services, notification costs, auditing and consulting services, public relations services, credit monitoring and more. According to the Ponemon Institute’s 2013 Cost of Data Breach Study, it costs an average of $188 per individual record that has been compromised.

In addition to being extremely expensive, a data breach can destroy trust and customer loyalty. Ponemon Institute’s study pointed out that for healthcare and financial services companies in particular, the risk of customer abandonment is high post-breach. Had the breaches at Target, Neiman Marcus and other retailers been included in the study, the retail sector would have been undoubtedly at the top of the high risk category.

So what can a business do to protect itself against this threat of a costly data breach?

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Topics: Property + Casualty, Cyber & Data Security, Technology

Employee Benefits for Biotech Employers

By Robert D'Angelo, Manager of EB Programs

clock June 9, 2014 at 10:00 AM

With Health Care Reform in full stride, many Life Science employers are finding that even with a healthy employee population, their benefits rates are increasing. Although life science and biotech are preferred risk industries for health underwriters, small companies with younger demographics are seeing the negative impacts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Many employers are seeking ways to lower employee benefits rates while complying with the ACA. One opportunity for small companies to keep their costs low is to join a benefits trust, where multiple employers come together under a common entity. Our Beyond Benefits Trust, designed for Biocom member companies, does just this.

So why join? What’s in it for you? With more than 2,500 enrolled employees, Beyond Benefits delivers major advantages for Biotech employers. Specifically:

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Health Care Reform, Technology

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