Monday, December 29, 2014

Business Disaster Recovery: Are You Ready?

Disasters tend to be one of two types: natural and human caused.  Do you know the types of disasters that are likely to threaten your business directly or indirectly?  Do you know what your insurance covers and does not cover?  Do you have a disaster recovery plan?

No place on Earth perfectly safe.  Every place can be systematically characterized using the Geographic Systems Model (GSM).  This can help you to identify the natural and human kinds of disasters unique to your business.  The GSM divides the world into 4 basic realms: Air, Land, Water, and Living Organisms.  Each one can be the origin of some kind of disaster.  The forces of nature are such that combinations are possible.  For example.  The realm of Air is the source of storms.  Storms can produce rain, snow, ice, hail, winds, and lightning.  These can all vary in duration and intensity.  Each poses a different kind of threat to your business.  Combined with Land, some sites are prone to flooding, flash flooding, landslides, mudslides or slope failure.  You should be aware of the seasons as well as the frequency and duration of these hazards.  The same hazards can affect your suppliers and vendors whose goods and services you depend on for your business.

After you have identified the type of disaster and its possible frequency, consider the range of impact to your business and its operations.  Here are some of the possible considerations:   

1. Physical Damage / Physical Security: The direct and indirect impacts to your business can result in varying degrees of damage to the building.  A major concern is your business records, especially accounts receivable and payable.  How often do you back up your data and where is the backup kept?  It may seem obvious that the backup should not be stored in the same facility.  If a fire burns out your office, having the data and the backup data in the office won’t help at all.  If the damage in less severe (e.g. broken windows or doors), how quickly can these be repaired or temporarily fixed to secure the premises?  And at what cost?  Who will do the work and how will you pay them?  These considerations should be in your disaster plan.  

2. Direct & Indirect Impacts: Direct impacts of a disaster pertain to your specific business facility.  This means the storm or fire affected your business.  An indirect impact would be a storm that disrupted one of your suppliers.  Without the goods or services you get from them, you cannot produce your goods / services to deliver to your customers.  Without supplies, your production declines.  So storms in other parts of the world can adversely affect your supply chains.  

3. Access Issues: Do you know the main and secondary routes to your business?  Can you and your workers get to your business to assess damage, clean up, and effect repairs to resume business?  What about access to your vendors / suppliers?  Can supplies be delivered and / or can orders be shipped out?  Do you have alternative work sites to resume operations?  What about alternative vendors and suppliers if your primaries are incapacitated by the disaster?  

4. Emergency Notifications: Do you have a way to notify you insurance company, customers, vendors, suppliers, etc. to inform them of you status?  When things are good, others may take your goods and services for granted.  When disaster strikes, they still have their business to run.  Their customers still expect to receive goods and services.  Their vendors, suppliers, and employees still expect to get paid.  If you are no longer operating, it is a good opportunity for your competitors to erode your customer base and erode your market share.  This can seriously reduce or eliminate your ability to recover.  

5. Financial Resilience: Anticipating the hazards, impacts, and costs are just ideas and words.  The reality of being able to pay for the clean-up and recovery can be painful.  If you don’t have financial reserves in place, you should at least have fast access to credit lines for this purpose.  In addition to repairs, you have your bills and employees to pay.  What will it cost to keep operations going under these circumstances?  Do you have a backup plan for telecommunications, data processing, and other critical business functions to get through the crisis?  If you use proprietary data processing software, do you have backup copies and computer equipment capable of running it?  And where is the data (and how up-to-date is it)?
The loss of your business data can expose you to financial risks that can ruin you.  1) Do you have updated Accounts Receivable data?  If not, you stand to lose valuable income needed to keep your business afloat.  2) What about your Accounts Payable?  Falling behind on your payments could result in collection action against you that multiply your liabilities. The Legal Eagles can help with all of these things. We know disaster relief is difficult. Our experienced business consultants are here to help guide you through the process of being prepared for situations that can impact your business. We can also help you after the fact when you need to take action against vendors or clients that didn’t keep their word. 

The Legal Eagles Inc.

Friday, December 12, 2014

8 Things to Know Before Engaging in an Office Romance

Before you do anything in terms of asking that hot girl or guy in your department out its pretty important for you to know several things about your company. Same thing goes for you ladies that want to ask that hunk over in sales out as well. Remember your job, career and reputation can all be severely in jeopardy just from engaging in a “simple” office romance.
1) Be sure to know what are your companies policy toward office flings and romances word for word. Some companies purposely write this policy to be vague.  When the time comes to reprimand someone for such acts they have more leeway. In some cases companies that find out about an office romance can move to fire one or both employees or they can transfer one or both employees.  So unless you’re willing to accept these potential consequences, you might want to think twice about your office fling. Remember, when in doubt, don’t.

2) It’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new relationship. But make sure to keep that out of the office. While you are at work you are on company time. For this reason you should make sure to refrain from touching, kissing, or any other kinds of public displays of affection. This is especially important when you work in the same department. You’ll be thankful you’ve maintained your professionalism in the long run.

3) If you are engaging in an office romance it’s safe to assume that everyone in the office most likely knows. But, that doesn’t mean can you flaunt it and make a big deal of it. The more discreet you remain about your romance the more likely you will say out of the gossip circles. Believe me that’s the last place you want to be. Plus, lot of people really don’t like the office romance shenanigans. So even though their opinion doesn’t really matter to you, it can potentially count down the line. Be aware that most gossips never want to be confused with the facts.

4) Probably the number one thing to remember and do if you choose to engage in an office romance is to Let your Boss know. Do NOT just leave it for them find out through the grapevine or some random gossip session. Do the mature thing and let your superiors know so they can handle things appropriately on their end as well. This will not only solidify their respect for you, but it will also build a trusting relationship. But don’t forget the company policies.  Your boss may not have a choice in the matter and may have to enforce company policy.

5) Think ahead. What do you plan to do if your relationship doesn’t work out? By engaging in an office romance you could be potentially changing or sacrificing a lot of things you’ve planned for in terms of your career. This isn’t a decision you make lightly. If you aren’t willing to potentially make serious changes, then do not enter into this kind of relationship.

6) Be respectful to one another as well as to your co-workers. They don’t want to get caught up in your relationship, drama, subterfuge. Give people space to come to terms with your relationship status and how it affects them in the work place. You might think it’s nothing, but for them it could be very uncomfortable. Be mindful of the feelings of others.

7) Don’t mix your romance with a business trip. Keeping it professional means just that. Going on a business trip together could put you in a situation where you risk crossing the line between business and romance.

8) This is probably the most important: NO means NO. This is true whether you’re a man or woman. If the other person says no leave it at no. Be respectful of their choice to not engage in a romance with you. In this situation pushing the envelope is not only unprofessional, but creepy and potentially grounds for reprimand.

Here’s the bottom line.  Avoiding workplace romance is one way to dodge the many potential problems, pitfalls, and land mines to your career.

The Legal Eagles Inc.

Password Protection: How Protected are you?

Think about how many accounts you need to have passwords for. It’s probably at least 5 right? How many of these passwords are reused or just duplicated so that all of your accounts have the same or VERY similar passwords. I can bet you you’re sitting there thinking, “uh oh all of them.” Well here are some ideas about how to secure your accounts with passwords that are (at the very least) they are better than what you currently have.

So let’s get started. First off choose some words that make sense to you. If they make a sentence that’s fine, but make sure this sentence isn’t “normal” in terms of being an often used combination of words. It should also not be something you may say randomly to someone. Make it something special, just for you. Now take the first letters of each word and create an acronym. Once you’ve done this add in either numbers that you can remember (but that don’t signify birth years, social security numbers or so on). You want to use a number combination that is not obviously linked to you in anyway. Now use the acronym you came up with and the numbers you’ve chose to create your more secure password. If you can add in some kind of symbol be sure to
do so. Make sure your number and letter spacing does not have a pattern. It’s essential that your password seem as random as possible. One example of such a password would be: The Grocer Is Down The Street 8106. So now my password can be: TGIDTS8106 or it can be T8GID10TS6 or any number of other combinations that make sense to me. But this combination of letters and number are not easily “crack-able” nor are they in any way directly related to me. So when it comes to someone trying to get into my personal password protected accounts, they are going to have to try a lot harder.

Here are some other links that may be help to reference when creating a secure password:

 The Legal Eagles Inc. 

5 Key Points to Maintain Your Online Security

Now and days our lives are firmly based in the online world. We manage our finances, social media, communications and so on all from online platforms. This can be risky business considering the number of things out there just waiting to get into your system. Here are a few things to maintain your computer security, your online security and ultimately your personal information:
1) First and foremost, do not open emails from people you do not know or don’t trust. These emails may contain viruses or malware that can enter your computer and gather then transmit your information back to the original source. Even when getting emails from people who know, if there is no subject or the subject heading or attached file name looks odd do not open it. These are a red flags that the email can be potentially dangerous. Their account may have been hacked.

2) Never respond to an email that says it’s urgent and requires your account information or any identifying information like name, address, ssn, birth date and so on. Also, do not send donations via email. If a company is requesting a donation from you, go to their website and make sure it has all the security features to protect your information.

3) If a link in your email or social media seems questionable do not click it. The link may appear to come from someone you know, but their account may have been compromised. When in doubt don’t click it. This is an especially important thing to remember as many of these sites have malware or viruses attached to the website so when you click it those things flood your system. 

4) Do not open attachments or download software from sources you don’t know. These attachments and software’s are being downloaded directly to your system, and therefore have direct access to everything. When downloading software you want, click on the “custom” installation option and unselect any unwanted additional programs which may be bundled with it.

5) The most important thing about online security is to make sure you are constantly vigilant about what is happening on your browser pages. Sometimes pages we normally go to can be hijacked and hacked. This will change the look of the page and the functionality of it. Be sure to leave the page by closing your browser. Then after a minute go back and try again. Chances are this time you will get to the correct page.  

The Legal Eagles Inc.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Defamation: Libel vs. Slander

If you had to guess the number of times your reputation has come into question due to defamation what number would you say? Defamation is the all-encompassing term that describe how a person’s reputation can be impacted by other people in a negative way. Most people will encounter situations where defamation comes into play at one point or another in their career or jobs. But, the big questions, in terms of the severity of the situation are as follows:

1. Was the defamation due to a false statement verbally,that was relayed as a fact by another person to a third party?

2. Was the defamation due to a false statement published in writing?

3. Did the individual(s) who made the statement verbally or in writing do it intentionally or negligently to cause harm?

4. Was harm caused to the person or entity who is the subject of the statement?

5. Another big question to ask yourself before jumping to a defamation conclusion is: Is any of this statement true in any way?

One of the biggest things that come up in defamation cases is how factual the defaming statements are. In some cases even if there is some factuality to the statement but not totally factual it can still work against you.

Defamation consists of two aspects, Slander and Libel. Slander is when someone negatively affects your reputation when they speak falsely about you to a third party. Libel occurs when a statement is published about you in writing that is false. In situations where there is blatant libel or slander it is much simpler to pursue a case of defamation against the defaming individual. What makes more defamation cases difficult is that the statements made are often not completely false. They are often based somewhat on at least a little bit of truth that has been skewed into the statement made by the other party. At that point the person or entity that has been defamed must demonstrate that despite the small percentage of truth the factuality of the statement itself is false. Another major factor when establishing your case of defamation is proving that there was an intention to, or there was negligence involved in purposefully releasing false information about you. Finally you would also have to prove that you have suffered negatively from the defamation.

An example of libel is if someone posts a statement on social media that is blatantly false about an individual or an entity of some sort. Due to this the persons or entities reputation greatly suffers. This type of blatant situation would make it possible to pursue a case of defamation. An example of slander would be if a co-worker says something blatantly false about you to another co-worker which therefore gets to your boss or other employees and as a result greatly affects your reputation in the company. This would be a situation where defamation based on slander would come into play.

The Legal Eagles Inc.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

RFID Cards: Will you take the risk?

Cards with RFID chips are being issued more frequently as more consumers are looking for the easier, more convenient payment option. RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification Device. Although this seems really convenient I have to wonder how much the convenience factor is really worth. I would really think the more important factor is the security. When you look at the first two letters in the acronym RFID, it’s Radio Frequency. When you figure that these chips are being placed on U.S. passports, credit cards and other payment and identification cards it would seem that you’d stay with the traditional payment methods. But no more. With more card issuers, sending you cards equipped with this chip then you can easily see that your information is potentially out in the open. The fact of the matter is that it doesn’t matter how much security the RFID chip companies claim to have on the chip. What matters is that there are people out there who like to make easy money by stealing and taking from others. With information being transmitted through radio frequency it’s a no brainer to see that there is potential out there for someone to develop a device that would pick up information from their RFID signals.

If you have a card that is RFID equipped, it may be a good idea to consider either creating or purchasing a wallet that will create a barrier around those cards so that the signal cannot be picked up in passing. It’s also good to know that if you have more than one card in your wallet that’s RFID enabled they may cancel each other out. So whatever you have in your wallet just know RFID is what’s in the now. So be prepared to protect yourself and your personal information.

The Legal Eagles Inc.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The FDA Expands Their Regulations on Displaying Nutrition Information

Things are always changing in the food industry, especially when it comes to “fast food.” Many people consider this term to be directed toward major chains like McDonalds, Burger King, Carls Jr. and many others that aren’t named. In this specific niche of the food industry there have recently been a lot of changes in regards to nutrition information and public health. For this reason under the Affordable Care Act there is a little known provision that states all fast food places (bakeries, coffee shops, convenience stores, fast food restaurants, etc.) that have 20 or more locations (as a company not as a franchise owner) will be required to post and list “clearly and conspicuously” the calorie counts of each item by November of 2015. This is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s way of making sure that people know what they are putting in their mouths.

It may come as a surprise but local grocery stores that have in store and take out dining will also be required to post the calorie counts of the fast foods they are selling. This includes the fruits and salads you have access to at the fruit and salad bar areas of the store. But, under this provision the stores are require to list the calorie content for the “raw” cut fruit in the salad but not for the whole fruit sold in the produce section. To make it simple, anything sold in stores, restaurants, cafes, etc., that are prepared for immediate individual consumption are required to have the calorie content listed clearly and conspicuously. Exempt from this Act are meals served on trains, airplanes, or food trucks.