The Time to Prioritize Cybersecurity is Now

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, small businesses have quickly adopted contactless payments and online ordering to accommodate the safety and convenience concerns of their customers. With this adoption comes increased risks. According to a 2022 report from Barracuda, a cloud and networks security company, small businesses with fewer than 100 employees receive 350% more social engineering attacks— like phishing, scamming or email compromise as compared to larger businesses.

Moreover, small businesses may have fewer resources to dedicate to cybersecurity, leaving them vulnerable to cybercriminals and cyberattacks. Dealing with the consequences of a cyberattack can be seriously detrimental to a business’s bottom line, costing approximately $25,000 per year.

As a business owner, what can you do to protect your operation against a cyberattack?


Before a business can effectively protect itself from cyberthreats, it should have a complete review and understanding of its computer operations. Business owners should understand where their data lives and classify what types of data they store. This may include internal and external data such as names, addresses, Social Security numbers, and credit card records.


Make sure your computer operating system, browser, and applications are set to receive automatic updates. Ensure all software is up to date. Get rid of software you no longer use. Your business should have clear, concise rules for what employees can install and keep on their work computers. When installing software, pay close attention to the message boxes before clicking OK. Make sure all store(s) computers are equipped with antivirus software and anti-spyware (update regularly). Limit access to data or systems only to those who require it to perform the core duties of their jobs.

Business owners can implement basic security and hygiene practices, such as:

  • Installing firewalls to prevent unauthorized access to the firm’s networks.
  • Using antivirus software and ensuring that it is updated regularly.
  • Regularly backing up data and storing it offline or in another location, not just in the cloud.
  • Creating strong passwords and not using the same password across different accounts.
  • Requiring multi-factor authentication, which asks for two identifying factors, like a password and a code, to access accounts and systems.

Keep in mind that applications and software may already include these security features. However, they will not necessarily be turned on by default. Be sure to enable these features to add an extra layer of security quickly and easily.


You and your employees are your first line of defense in protecting the business from cyberattacks. According to the 2022 Global Risks Report by the World Economic Forum, 95% of cybersecurity issues can be traced to human error. Through basic cybersecurity training, you can help your employees learn to identify common threats, such as phishing emails or suspicious downloads, as well as develop online best practices, like safe browsing and strong passwords. For guidance, visit

Additionally, the Federal Communications Commission offers a free online tool to help businesses create a customized cybersecurity plan based on a company’s unique business needs.



Cyber insurance can help protect a business from financial losses caused by incidents such as data breaches, ransomware attacks, and hacking. Contact AHLI at for a FREE cyber quote for your business.

Hurricane Season is HERE.

Are You Prepared? 

Plan, prepare and practice. These three words are critical to any business, especially when used as a tool to diffuse the impact of a hurricane. By taking the initiative to plan, prepare, and practice, you can work toward building a successful strategy in the event of a disaster.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends the following checklist for storm preparation.

Step 1: Protect property

  • Invest in and install shutters or plywood to protect windows and doors from wind borne debris.
  • Have the roof of your building evaluated to ensure it can withstand a storm.
  • Remove any branches or trees adjacent to your building that could potentially fall and damage it.
  • Sandbag any area that is subject to flooding.
  • Anchor and brace any large furniture (bookcases, shelves, filing cabinets) to wall studs.
  • Relocate any valuable or fragile possessions.
  • Secure all utilities including water heaters, gas tanks, and heaters and if necessary, raise them to higher locations to avoid water damages.
  • Secure electronics such as computers and other office equipment with straps or Velcro.
  • Turn off all the utilities prior to a hurricane making landfall if possible.

Step 2: Protect important documents and information

  • Designate important contacts to save that are crucial to business operations, such as employees, banks, lawyers, accountants, suppliers, etc.
  • Back-up documents that are not easily produced such as insurance documents, legal contracts, tax returns, and accounting statements to avoid water damage.
  • Seal these documents in waterproof containers onsite.
  • Save all your designated contacts and documents in an alternate, accessible off-site location.

Step 3: Keep a preparedness checklist

The below items should be gathered in one location at your place of business should a storm hit while you are on premises. This will help protect the safety of your employees should disaster strike during regular working hours and without ample notice.

  • Battery operated radio or television
  • Non-perishable three-day food supply for you and your employees
  • Three-day supply of water for you and your employees (one gallon of water per person, per day)
  • Coolers and containers for water and washing
  • Blankets, pillows, cots, and chairs
  • First aid kit and manual
  • Flashlights, batteries, light-sticks
  • Tool kit (basic tools, gloves, etc.)
  • Camera and film for documenting damages
  • Whistle/signal flare to signal for help
  • Tarps, plastic bags, duct tape
  • Cleaning supplies, including mops, towels, and garbage cans
  • Smoke alarms and fire extinguishers
  • Electric generator
  • Gas for vehicles, generators, and other equipment
  • Cash, ATM cards, and credit cards proper identification
  • Emergency contact information including the nearest hospital and police station
  • Small Business Administration (SBA): 800-359-2227
  • FEMA hotline: 800-462-9029
  • Insurance company and agent’s contact information

For more information about your business’ survival guide, download FEMA’s Business Toolkit for further steps you can take to prepare your business. Additionally, download the FEMA mobile app -- in English and Spanish -- to help users take charge of disasters. The app is available for download on iOS or Android.

Protect Employees from the Heat

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), millions of U.S. workers are exposed to heat in their workplaces. Although illness from exposure to heat is preventable, every year, thousands become sick from occupational heat exposure, and some cases are fatal. Most outdoor fatalities, 50% to 70%, occur in the first few days of working in warm or hot environments because the body needs to build a tolerance to the heat gradually over time. The process of building tolerance is called heat acclimatization. Lack of acclimatization represents a major risk factor for fatal outcomes.

Occupational risk factors for heat illness include heavy physical activity, warm or hot environmental conditions, lack of acclimatization, and wearing clothing that holds in body heat.

Hazardous heat exposure can occur indoors or outdoors and can occur during any season if the conditions are right, not only during heat waves. Employers should create plans to protect workers from developing heat-related illnesses.


Heat-Related Illness

In a warm environment, especially when physically active, the human body relies on its ability to get rid of excess heat (i.e., heat dissipation) to maintain a healthy internal body temperature. Heat dissipation happens naturally through sweating and increased blood flow to the skin. Workers cool down more rapidly if the external (environmental) heat and physical activity (metabolic heat) are reduced.


If heat dissipation does not happen quickly enough, the internal body temperature keeps rising and the worker may experience symptoms that include thirst, irritability, a rash, cramping, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke.


Heat stroke is the most severe heat-related illness. Workers suffering from heat stroke experience mental dysfunction such as unconsciousness, confusion, disorientation, or slurred speech. Cool these workers immediately and call 911!


How Can Heat-Related Illness Be Prevented?

Heat-related illness is preventable, especially with management commitment to providing the most effective controls. An effective heat-related illness prevention program is incorporated in a broader safety and health program and aligns with OSHA's Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs core elements.


Workers who have not spent time recently in warm or hot environments and/or being physically active will need time to build tolerance (acclimatize or less frequently used, acclimate) to the heat.

During their first few days in warm or hot environments, employers should encourage workers to:

  • Consume adequate fluids (water and sport drinks)
  • Work shorter shifts
  • Take frequent breaks
  • Quickly identify any heat illness symptoms

Engineering controls such as air conditioning, with cooled air, and increased air flow, leading to increased evaporative cooling, can make the workplace safer. Other options for keeping body temperatures down in warm environments include making changes to workload and schedules. For example, empower supervisors and workers to slow down physical activity like reducing manual handling speeds or scheduling work for the morning or shorter shifts with frequent rest breaks in the shade or at least away from heat sources. Supervisors can encourage workers in warm environments to drink hydrating fluids. At a minimum, all supervisors and workers should receive training about heat-related symptoms and first aid.


Heat-related illnesses can have a substantial cost to your business. Heat stress can cause fine motor performance (like rebar tying or keyboarding) to deteriorate even in acclimatized individuals. Heat illness can contribute to decreased performance, lost productivity due to illness and hospitalization, and possibly death. OSHA encourages water, rest, and shade as prevention as well as treatment for heat-related illness.


OSHA offers a heat safety tool. With this app, you have vital safety information available whenever and wherever you need it - right on your mobile phone. The app allows workers and supervisors to calculate the heat index for their worksite, and, based on the heat index, displays a risk level to outdoor workers. Then, with a "click," you can get reminders about the protective measures that should be taken at that risk level to protect workers from heat-related illness-reminders about drinking enough fluids, scheduling rest breaks, planning for and knowing what to do in an emergency, adjusting work operations, gradually building up the workload for new workers, training on heat illness signs and symptoms, and monitoring each other for signs and symptoms of heat-related illness. The OSHA app is available in English and Spanish for Android and iPhone devices. To access the Spanish version, set the phone language to Spanish.

For additional risk management tips for your business, email us at

Wildfire Preparedness is Year-Round

The McKinney Fire in Northern California is becoming the state’s largest wildfire so far this year. The blaze is only the beginning of the West’s fire season, which traditionally peaks between mid-July and October. While the region’s dry vegetation has always made it prone to fires, climate change is intensifying wildfires and lengthening fire season making fire preparedness year-round.

As the climate crisis makes wildfires in the United States more frequent, longer, and more intense, preparedness can help businesses minimize damage and prevent loss.

  • Develop an emergency plan for your business that includes fire safety and preparedness and share those plans with all your employees. This emergency plan should meet the requirements under 29 CFR 1910.38; see Evacuation Plans and Procedures eTool for more information.

  • Identify ahead of time what critical items you will take in an evacuation and know evacuation routes for your location for the safety of your employees and customers. Make sure to have multiple evacuation routes identified in case the primary exit is blocked or inaccessible.

  • Part of being prepared is setting yourself up for recovery after a disaster. Your business should always have adequate insurance to prepare for disasters. Talk to your insurance agent about your insurance policy and levels of coverage.

  • Your employees are your number one business asset, and they need to be fully prepared for disasters. As a minimum, they should have a 72-hour survival kit at the ready. Contact your local American Red Cross Chapter to have them present the “Prepare” program to all of your employees. The Prepare Guide can be also downloaded for free from the Red Cross.

  • The free Ready Rating program from the American Red Cross is an easy-to-use online tool for any business to establish an Emergency Action Plan for their business. OSHA requires that any business with more than ten (10) employees have a written Emergency Action Plan. FEMA also maintains an online library for business owners: Emergency Preparedness Resources for Business.

  • FREE disaster apps: The American Red Cross has a free app for your mobile devices called the Emergency! App. The Emergency! App is available through the app store and provides information on health and safety tips, emergency preparedness, disaster relief shelter locations, pet preparedness, and more. You can also text: "GETEMERGENCY" to 90999. The FEMA App gives you the tools you need to prepare and recover after a disaster. The FEMA App is available for both Android and iOS. You can download the FEMA App on Google Play and on the Apple App Store. You can also download the FEMA App via text messaging. On an Android device, text ANDROID to 43362 (4FEMA); On an Apple Device, text APPLE to 43362 (4FEMA).

Parking Lot Safety Begins with You

Slip and falls are one of the most common types of liability claims for retailers year after year. Each year, a large number of slip/trip and fall incidents occur in parking lots and adjacent walking surfaces that result in serious and, in some cases, fatal injuries.

Consider these statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • Over one million Americans suffer a slip/trip and fall injury and over 17,000 people die in the U.S. annually because of these injuries.
  • Slip/trip and falls make up 15% of all work-related injuries, which account for between 12% and 15% of all Workers' Compensation expenses.
  • The CDC estimates that 20% to 30% of people who experience a slip and fall will suffer moderate to severe injuries such as bruises, hip fractures, or head injuries.
  • Slip and fall accidents are the common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and these account for 46% of fatal falls among older Americans.
  • Accident studies indicate that almost 80% of slips and falls due to snow and ice occur in parking lots or on sidewalks; more than 50% occur in the morning between 6:00 a.m. and noon.

Now that you know the statistics, what are the most frequent hazards in parking lots that lead to slip and fall accidents?

  • Poor lighting
  • Wet, snow-covered surfaces
  • Ice
  • Potholes and/or uneven pavement
  • Cracked surfaces
  • Standing water
  • Debris

Effective slip and fall accident prevention methods go beyond just clearing away clutter or placing a "Wet Floor" sign at a slippery entrance. Establish a program that addresses prevention, as well as employee response if someone does get injured. Property owners and businesses have a duty to keep their properties safe and to alert customers and employees of any dangers. This duty extends to parking lots and walkways.

As a business owner, ask yourself these questions:

When was the last time you parked your car on your property and did not park behind the store or in your special spot?

How long has it been since you or someone else did a physical inspection of the parking lot? This is the very first point of physical contact that every one of your customers will have with your business so make sure its condition is just as important as your retail space.

Here are 10 tips that can help your business create a safe space for pedestrians and drivers alike.

  1. Importance of physical inspections and checklists. Initiate physical inspections and use a checklist to document the condition and any details of repairs on a regular basis. A monthly inspection would be good place to start.
  2. Potholes/broken concrete or asphalt. Areas of elevation change are the primary cause of parking lot related falls. Make sure that your parking lot is as level as possible and complete repairs as they arise (do not wait until you must have the whole parking lot replaced). If any large holes are discovered, and repairs are not immediately made, be sure to use barricades or other devices such as safety cones to block off the area to prevent someone from walking through or driving through the area.
  3. Paved lots. If your lot is paved, be sure that all areas are free and clear of any oil or gas that may have leaked out of a car as these areas can become slippery.
  4. Snow and ice removal. Make every effort possible to limit snow and ice accumulation. Start a wintertime inspection protocol that increases the frequency of physical inspections. Inspections every three to four hours would be a good start. However, in some cases of severe inclement weather, it should be increased to every hour or two. Use a checklist to document the inspection times and to what extent you went to (for example, how much salt was used). Note the times of the inspection and the times all parking areas and sidewalks were plowed, shoveled, or salted. If your snow and ice removal is completed by a third party, ask them to provide you with a certificate of insurance and keep records of when and how long they were working on your lot.
  5. Parking space maintenance. If you have designated parking spaces, make sure all parking spaces have highly visible painted lines. Having actual parking spaces painted leads to a more organized traffic flow which is safer for those already out of their car and walking as well as those still in the car.
  6. Importance of lighting. If your business is open during low light periods, be sure that the area is adequately illuminated.
  7. Debris removal. Make sure all trash such as soda cans, bottles, shopping bags etc. are picked up on a regular basis. Make sure all bands and empty pallets have been removed as they can become a tripping hazard.
  8. Parking curbs or wheel stops. Make sure all damaged or dislodged curbs are removed or replaced and if possible, marked with yellow caution paint.
  9. Speed bumps. Install speed bumps to help reduce traffic speed.
  10. Crosswalks. Provide pedestrians with safe travel areas by painting in crosswalks and using crosswalk signs to notify drivers of who has the right of way.

Make sure you have adequate business liability insurance coverage for slip and fall accidents to cover customer and non-employee claims, as well as workers compensation coverage to protect employees. In addition, a business umbrella policy adds an extra measure of protection if the liability exposure exceeds the limits of the base policy.

For additional information, email

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