Monthly Archives: September 2017

Preparing Your Business for Winter

Category : Preparedness

Preparing Your Business for Winter

It’s only September I hear you cry!

Why are you talking about preparing my business for winter?

Well, it will be October next week and by then the arguments about whether it’s cold enough to turn the heating on will be over and everyone will have agreed that the time has indeed come.

Having spent much of my adult life preparing for things that might go wrong I thought I would pass a few tips on to you.

I’ve also included links to some resources and if you would like a comprehensive checklist to help you prepare just send me your details in the pop up at the bottom of the page and I will send it to you.

Preparing

So with winter on its way now would be a good time to think about planning for it.

It’s too late to plan in November when you find that all the snow shovels have been sold and you’ll have to walk over the icy path to your office to get some grit before someone hurts themselves. Remember, you have a duty of care for your staff and customers coming to your premises so you need to make sure you have done this stuff.

Threats

The main things that affect businesses in winter are snow storms, power cuts and flooding so what can you do now to make sure you are ready?

Keep an eye on the weather.

Sign up to the Met Office Severe Weather Warning Service

Sign up for their email alerts. It’s free! I wouldn’t normally pay much attention to yellow alerts unless you were in a particularly vulnerable area prone to say flooding but when the alerts get to Amber you really need to take some action.  What action you need to take will of course have been thought about and will be written in your plan.

You could also use the British Red Cross Emergency App. It’s free and might help you prepare your home for winter too.

Communications

How will you contact your staff? It may be that the office has no water or electricity. How will you contact your staff to tell them to work from home or other premises?

You may want to think about how you would go about diverting phones so your customers can still contact you, even if your staff are working from home. A VOIP phone service is what I recommend to my clients. It’s the way forward and is so much more resilient than landlines. Mine costs me about £3 a month so it’s also cheap.

How can you communicate with key team members when they are unable to get to the office? Not so much of a problem these days but if you haven’t thought about how you are going to do it before it happens you won’t be able to take advantage of the technology we all carry in our pockets.

What would you do if you and your staff can’t leave the premises because of snow or flooding? Do you have a source of food and water? People do get stuck in their workplace. If that is likely to be a risk for your premises what are you going to do? Remember, you may be cut off without electricity, which probably means no heat or light, or water so you need to think about how you might prepare.

Carry out a Business Impact Assessment. The government has provided some helpful resources here. It will give you an idea of how important your various services are to your business and what you can do without for a while. This allows you to focus on what is really important.

Supply Chain

What happens if the roads are blocked and your supplier can’t get to you?  Do you have plans to increase stock levels for winter? Do you have alternative suppliers?

Do you need fuel for your vehicles? You need to plan to keep them probably at least half full just in case the tanker doesn’t get to your garage.

 

Need help?

If you would like some help with your planning just send me your email address and I will get back to you with a handy checklist that you can use as the basis of your plan.


Can Macs Get Viruses

Can Macs get viruses?

Yes, they can. 

Now you can get on with whatever it is you would rather be doing or you can read on and get some tips on how to avoid it happening to you.

My Mac was attacked last night but it was unsuccessful so I thought I would write a blog to show you how to avoid becoming a victim.

Many people think that because Macs run on Unix code and have inbuilt protection they are safe. The other factor often mentioned is that as there are fewer Mac than Windows machines the bad guys don’t bother creating viruses or malware for them.

The bad news, if you have a Mac, is that this is not true. It may have been once but not anymore. I’m not trying to sell anti-virus software though. This post is to give you some tips on how you can secure your Mac. Most of it is fairly straightforward and won’t cost you anything, other than a bit of your time.

This is a virus detection on my Mac in September 2017

This is a virus detection on my Mac in September 2017

As the screenshot above shows my Mac was attacked by a W97M Trojan, which is designed to steal your banking details. This came embedded in a regular email newsletter from a trusted source.

This came embedded in a regular email newsletter from a trusted source.

The virus scanner caught and quarantined the files which are embedded in a Word file. If you open the file and allow macros to run then the Trojan installs the Spybot software that is designed to steal online banking details.

So, even if I hadn’t installed virus protection there were a couple of actions required before the malware was installed but would you or a member of your staff open a document from a trusted source? I think you probably would and this presents a risk you need to address now before it happens. 

How can I secure my Mac?

Here are some things you can do to make sure your Mac is secure. 

Turn on your firewall.

You may think it will come enabled but by default it is disabled.  To turn it on go to your settings page and select Security & Privacy. You will then click on the padlock at the bottom left of the window, enter your administrator’s password and then turn on the firewall.

It should just take care of itself after you turn it on but if you have any problems getting applications to work then turn it off again and see if that cures the problem. You shouldn’t get any problems but you may be using software that doesn’t want to work properly, in which case you’ll need some help from your software provider.Turn on Mac Firewall

Install some anti-virus software.

I use McAfee because my ISP is BT and they provide McAfee free to install on all of my machines. Your ISP may provide a free one or you can shop around and find one that suits your purpose. Sophos provide free AV software for Macs and it seems to have a good reputation.

Use a strong password.

There are three settings here you should pay attention to.

The first is the one which allows you to set a password for your account.

The next allows you to specify if a password is needed to unlock your Mac when it goes to sleep or a screen saver begins.

If you work in an office with other people, you should consider switching this setting on.

You can specify how soon after sleep or the start of a screen saver the password is required. The most secure setting is ‘immediately’ but, like everything else to do with security, you need to balance security and convenience. So choose a time period that makes sense to you.

If you are using a MacBook then you really do need to set it to lock within a few minutes, just in case you accidentally leave it on the train, like civil servants do. Don’t forget to disable the automatic login or it’s all a waste of time!

Encrypt your hard drive.

In the security and setting section, there is a tab called FileVault. Click it and enable FileVault. Choose whether to unlock your files using your icloud account or with a key.  

Your hard drive will then encrypt everything. It will take a while, depending on how much data you have but it will do it in the background while you work on.  

This is particularly important if you are using an external hard drive or SSD because someone could just pick it up and be away with it. Filevault page

Turn off Bluetooth.

but not if you are using a Bluetooth mouse, trackpad or keyboard. You are probably quite safe using Bluetooth on your desktop Mac but on your Macbook, you are exposing yourself to potential threats if you are out in the world with it switched on.

Enable two-step authentication wherever you can.

Most applications, websites etc will now offer you 2 step authentication that involves them sending you a text or email message with a code to enter whenever you try to access or change anything like a password. This will prevent someone hacking into your account.

It works. Someone tried to hack my wife’s account last week but the 2 step authentication meant she was notified and was able to go and change her password as a precaution.

Use a VPN

If you are out and about with your Macbook use a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

I’m not saying your favourite coffee shop wifi is dodgy but if you connect to any network that isn’t yours, you are at risk.  

There are loads of VPN services available. Most of them are paid for so you can shop around and find one that suits you.

I don’t use a lot of unsecured wifi, preferring to use my phone to tether my laptop and use 4G networks but I do use a VPN called TunnelBear for occasions when I have no alternative. It is free for a limited amount of data.

You could set your own up on your home router if it’s capable of providing a VPN solution and that would be free. You would need to have a reasonable broadband speed at home otherwise your connection would be too slow and that’s annoying.

It’s not that easy to setup if you’re not clued up on it but it’s an option you could explore. You can’t do it with the standard router BT give you.

Turn off sharing.

If you don’t need to have sharing on then turn it off. You may need to share stuff but most people won’t. Make sure none of the boxes on the left are ticked.Mac sharing

Don’t click on links or open documents in emails unless you are sure you know what they are.

As I mentioned at the start of this post you can’t even trust emails from organisations or people you know because their accounts may have been hacked and are being used by bad guys. This has happened to me on 3 occasions in the past few months where a company I have done business with has been hacked and used to send out malware or phishing attacks. When the GDPR comes into force I hope companies start paying a lot more attention to their security.

So that was a quick 9 steps to securing your Mac. I hope you have found it useful but if you need anything more specific please get in touch. If I don’t know the answer then I have associates who can help you.

If you would like to receive regular stuff about making your company more resilient then please complete the boxes and I will add you to the list.


Regulatory Compliance

Category : Preparedness

What is regulatory compliance?

I was helping a startup business get off to a good start by helping them with advice on how to make the company resilient but it soon became clear that they also needed to understand the regulations they needed to comply with.  So I thought I would use my years of experience of compliance to give you the information you need to keep your business on the right side of the law.

This advice is not specific. It can’t be because all I can do in a post is generalize and give you the basics. You will need to seek out specific advice for your own circumstances if you think there may be some other regulations you need to comply with than the ones I am talking about here.

What does compliance have to do with resilience? That’s an easy one. Resilience is about taking a holistic view of your business and managing risks. Compliance is also about managing risk, although these have been pointed out to you by regulators and probably feel like just another burden, although they are there for a good reason. 

Failure to comply.

If you have failed to comply with fire safety regulations for example and your building burns down it may be your own fault. It will certainly be a really good excuse for your insurance company to say ‘NO’ and then the survival of your business is probably in serious doubt.  

So here is a list of the regulations and the documents you may well have to complete but remember my caveat above, this is a generic list and your situation may be different.

Clicking on the links in the tables will take you to simply-docs website where you can find more information and download the template for yourself. Some of the links may break over time but they will take you to the simply-docs website that will guide you to where you need to be.

You’ll have to pay for most of them but it may save you a lot of time. Alternatively, you can ask a consultant to complete them for you if you would rather be doing something more interesting.

Help

If I can help you with any of this just get in touch. 03333 440889 or email me on  iain.campbell@brslimited.co.uk


Sole Trader / Partnership

Essential Documents

Recommended Documents
Health & Safety Policy Statement
Health & Safety Policy
Health & Safety Arrangements and Procedures
Fire Safety Policy
Fire Risk Assessment
Asbestos Register
Risk Assessments
Accident reporting forms
Asbestos (ACM) Initial Damage & Disturbance Inspection

Environmental Policy

Waste Management documents

Manual Handling forms

Safe Driving

 


Small / Medium Sized Company

Essential Documents

Recommended Documents
Health & Safety Policy Statement

Health & Safety Policy

Health & Safety Arrangements and Procedures

Fire Safety Policy

Fire Risk Assessment

Asbestos Register

Risk Assessments

Accident reporting forms

Asbestos (ACM) Initial Damage & Disturbance Inspection

Environmental Policy

Waste Management documents

Manual Handling forms

Safe Driving

 

 

Shops


Essential Documents

Recommended Documents
Health & Safety Policy Statement
Health & Safety Policy
Health & Safety Arrangements and ProceduresFire Safety PolicyFire Risk AssessmentAsbestos RegisterRisk AssessmentsAccident reporting forms
Asbestos (ACM) Initial Damage & Disturbance Inspection

Environmental Policy

Waste Management documents

Manual Handling forms

Safe Driving

 

 

 

Offices


Essential Documents

Recommended Documents
Health & Safety Policy Statement
Health & Safety Policy
Health & Safety Arrangements and ProceduresFire Safety PolicyFire Risk AssessmentAsbestos RegisterRisk AssessmentsAccident reporting forms
Asbestos (ACM) Initial Damage & Disturbance Inspection

Environmental Policy

Waste Management documents

Manual Handling forms

Safe Driving

Display Screen Equipment forms

 


Factories and Workshops

Essential Documents

Recommended Documents
Health & Safety Policy Statement
Health & Safety Policy
Health & Safety Arrangements and ProceduresFire Safety PolicyFire Risk AssessmentAsbestos RegisterRisk AssessmentsAccident reporting forms
Asbestos (ACM) Initial Damage & Disturbance Inspection

Environmental Policy

Waste Management documents

Manual Handling forms

Safe Driving

Display Screen Equipment forms


Automotive

Essential Documents

Recommended Documents
Health & Safety Policy Statement
Health & Safety Policy
Health & Safety Arrangements and ProceduresFire Safety PolicyFire Risk AssessmentAsbestos RegisterRisk AssessmentsAccident reporting forms
Asbestos (ACM) Initial Damage & Disturbance Inspection

Environmental Policy

Waste Management documents

Manual Handling forms

Safe Driving

Display Screen Equipment forms

 


Residential, Nursing and Care Home

Essential Documents

Recommended Documents
Health & Safety Policy Statement
Health & Safety Policy
Health & Safety Arrangements and Procedures Fire Safety PolicyFire Risk AssessmentAsbestos RegisterRisk AssessmentsAccident reporting forms
Asbestos (ACM) Initial Damage & Disturbance Inspection

Environmental Policy

Waste Management documents

Manual Handling forms

Safe Driving

Display Screen Equipment forms

 


Small Hotel/B&B

Essential Documents

Recommended Documents
Health & Safety Policy Statement
Health & Safety Policy
Health & Safety Arrangements and ProceduresFire Safety PolicyFire Risk AssessmentAsbestos RegisterRisk AssessmentsAccident reporting forms
Asbestos (ACM) Initial Damage & Disturbance Inspection

Environmental Policy

Waste Management documents

Manual Handling forms

Safe Driving

Display Screen Equipment forms

 


Transport and Logistics

Essential Documents

Recommended Documents
Health & Safety Policy Statement
Health & Safety Policy
Health & Safety Arrangements and ProceduresFire Safety PolicyFire Risk AssessmentAsbestos RegisterRisk AssessmentsAccident reporting forms
Asbestos (ACM) Initial Damage & Disturbance Inspection

Environmental Policy

Waste Management documents

Manual Handling forms

Safe Driving

Display Screen Equipment forms

 

 

 

Warehouse and Storage


Essential Documents

Recommended Documents
Health & Safety Policy Statement
Health & Safety Policy
Health & Safety Arrangements and Procedures Fire Safety PolicyFire Risk AssessmentAsbestos RegisterRisk AssessmentsAccident reporting forms
Asbestos (ACM) Initial Damage & Disturbance Inspection

Environmental Policy

Waste Management documents

Manual Handling forms

Safe Driving

Display Screen Equipment forms