Are small businesses protecting themselves from a data breach?

A data breach can be a challenge for any business, but this is especially true for smaller businesses. Not only can it be more difficult for a smaller business to recover from a data breach, but criminals may also be more likely to target smaller firms.

When a data breach occurs at a large firm or government agency, it winds up all over the news. If one occurred at a small business down the street, those unaffected would probably never hear about it. But a recent report released by Verizon found that nearly three-quarters of data breaches analyzed last year involved businesses with 100 employees or fewer. 


“Most small-business owners simply do not believe they are at risk,” says Lynn LaGram, assistant vice president of small commercial underwriting for The Hartford. “The reality is that small businesses are often more vulnerable – making them easier targets.”

LaGram says part of the reason may be that small-business owners often don’t have the time or resources that larger companies may have to assist them in protecting data. However protecting data may not be as difficult as one would think.

Steps to help prevent a breach

For a business or organization that must handle sensitive customer, patient or employee information, it’s important to take measures that decrease the likelihood of a breach. “A data breach can involve electronic or paper records,” says LaGram. She shares eight data protection “best practices” for a business:

* Lock and secure sensitive customer, patient, member or employee information.

* Restrict employee access to sensitive information.

* Shred or otherwise securely dispose of all sensitive customer, patient, member or employee information.

* Use password protection and data encryption for sensitive files.

* Have a privacy policy.

* Update systems and software on a regular basis.

* Use firewalls to control access to sites that could compromise your security and lock out hackers.

* Ensure that remote access to your network is secure.

If a breach occurs

While it’s important to take proactive steps to help prevent a data breach from occurring, there’s no way to eliminate the risk entirely, so it is also important to have data breach insurance.
According to LaGram, a business owner should consider insurance that provides:

1. Coverage for expenses associated with responding to and recovering from a breach. “Business owners may not realize that they must comply with various notification requirements, which can be costly,” says LaGram. Additional advertising expenses to help a business restore its reputation after a breach would also fall into this category.

2. Legal expense and liability coverage. A customer or employee whose personal data is compromised may sue the business owner for damages. This insurance provides coverage for defense costs, civil awards, settlements or judgments that a business owner may be obligated to pay.

3. Access to data security experts to help the business owner navigate the various notification requirements as well as determine the cause of the breach and take steps to prevent it from happening again.

“A data breach can happen to anyone, so it’s important for business owners to be prepared,” says LaGram. For more information about protecting your business from a data breach, visit
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E-tools assist with heart health

(NC)-We use our phones for just about everything – why not use them to help our heart health too? The Heart and Stroke Foundation (HSF), in partnership with Desjardins Financial Security, has added a new free mobile app to its suite of e-tools to help Canadians do just that, literally putting health at our fingertips.

Called the 30 Days Mobile App it is an easy tool to help us make important lifestyle changes that could add healthy years to our lives. Users get a customized risk profile showing the long-term impact of daily health choices – then guides them to break bad habits and adopt a healthier lifestyle in 30 days or less.

“Diet, physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, being smoke-free and reducing stress are just a few of the keys in taking control,” says Dr. Beth Abramson, cardiologist and spokesperson for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. “This app is a virtual trainer, nutritionist and cheerleader wrapped up together. It gives you one healthy action a day. This quickly adds up to 30 healthy actions – putting you on the path to a lifetime of healthy choices.”

This is the fourth smartphone app developed by the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and the third time it has partnered with Desjardins Financial Security to develop an e-tool to help Canadians manage their health.

“We’re proud to support another tool that has the potential to have a huge impact on the health and lives of Canadians,” says Denis Berthiaume, president and chief operating officer of Desjardins Financial Security.

HSF also partnered with Desjardins to develop the My Heart&Stroke Risk Assessment, which helps users determine their risk for heart disease and stroke by answering confidential questions, and My Health eSupport, which sends out regular emails to support and encourage Canadians to achieve healthier lives.

Other tools in the foundation’s suite of e-tools include the My Blood Pressure Action, designed to help users track their blood pressure readings, set goals and receive appointment and medication reminders, and the My Healthy Weight Action Plan, a free, easy-to-use 12-week program for getting to and keeping a healthy weight.

The free app is currently available in English or French for iOS devices only (iPhone, iPad and iTouch) and can be downloaded at Apple App Stores, or at

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Rest easy: Expert advice on choosing a mattress

Everyone likes to save money, but some purchases it just doesn’t pay to skimp on. If you’re buying an item that affects your well-being – like shoes or a mattress – it’s smart to buy the best you can afford.

Your mattress directly affects your ability to get a good night’s sleep, according to experts. Poor sleep has been linked to a host of physical and mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, hypertension, memory loss and appetite changes.

If you’re not resting as well as you know you should and it’s been 10 years or more since you bought a mattress, you may need to take advantage of summer mattress sale season. The summer holidays – Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day – and the weeks in between are a great time to find a new deal on a mattress, as retailers tend to ramp up discounts and promotions at this time of year.

“The Better Sleep Council recommends that you replace your mattress every five to seven years,” says Jim Ruehlmann, a mattress expert with mattress-maker Simmons. “If you haven’t gone mattress shopping in a while, you may be surprised and a bit overwhelmed by the variety of choices, advances in technology and plethora of sales you’ll find this summer.”

Ruehlmann offers these tips for making your next mattress purchase:

* When it comes to comparison shopping, patience pays off. Watch the sales fliers that will be arriving in your mailbox or tucked into your local paper. The “red, white and blue” holidays are prime sale time for mattress sellers. If you have an idea of what you want, chances are it will go on sale this summer.

* Play the pricing games to your advantage. Stores near each other rarely carry the exact same make and models of mattresses, so it can be difficult to do a direct price comparison. To get a fair comparison, note the construction of a model you like, including the types of foams, coil count, etc. Then take that information to a competing store and see if they have a bed of similar construction and quality that feels just as good – but for less money.

* Brush up on new technology. If it’s been 10 years or longer since you bought a mattress a lot has changed. For example, if you tried memory foam years ago and didn’t like the hot, quicksand sensation older foam types created, you may be pleasantly surprised at how new technology has eliminated that problem. For example, some mattresses feature memory foam that provides the supportive sleep, contouring comfort and pressure relief of traditional memory foam, but helps dissipate heat and has quick recovery – meaning the foam doesn’t make you feel hot when you lay on it and springs back to shape quickly as you move.

* Coils count. In traditional coil mattresses, those coils are what make a mattress comfortable – or uncomfortable. Quality coil construction equates to better sleep. Coils should provide motion separation, comfort and back support. The top section of the coil, which is tapered, conforms to your shape for comfort and pressure relief. The firmer barrel-shaped bottom section reacts to body weight and sleeping position for individualized back support and alignment. 

* Never settle. You’ll spend more hours in bed than on your couch, so keep searching until you find one that you feel good about. When testing in the store, lay on the bed however you normally sleep and stay that way for a few minutes. Be sure to try the bed with your sleeping partner beside you, so that you can feel the level of motion when one of you moves around.

* Ask about the store’s policies for delivery charges, returns, testing periods and removal of your old mattress. Every store is different, and the policies may affect where you decide to buy.

Finally, says Ruehlmann, “Buy the box spring.”

A mattress and foundation complement each other. Buying just the mattress may reduce its comfort and support – and shorten the bed’s lifespan.

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BreathWorks Supports Ontarians with COPD


Largely caused by smoking, COPD is a respiratory disease that results in lung damage and obstructs, or ‘blocks’ the airways, making it difficult for a person to breathe.

In recognizing the growing number of people looking for information and answers to their questions, The Lung Association created the BreathWorks Lung Health Information Line – a free confidential service offering practical information and support for people living with COPD, their families and caregivers.

“Often when someone is diagnosed with a new illness such as COPD, they feel that they are alone and that no one else understands what they are experiencing,” says Chris Haromy, Certified Respiratory Educator. “The BreathWorks Lung Health Information Line can help individuals feel more at ease after learning their diagnosis and provide continued support as they begin treatment.”

The Lung Health Information Line is staffed by health care professionals with special training in COPD who are ready to answer questions regarding symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.

“In addition, callers can learn about support groups or education centres near them, as well as information about joining a COPD rehabilitation program,” adds Haromy. “We want to give as many people as possible the opportunity to better manage their symptoms and continue to improve their quality of life.”

COPD is treatable at any stage of illness. For more information call The Lung Association at 1-866-717-COPD (2673) or speak with your health care provider.

Attention editors: This article is for distribution in Ontario only.

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Meningococcal meningitis cases peak in winter months; help protect your children by getting them vaccinated today

School nurses are urging parents to vaccinate their preteens and teens against meningococcal disease, a rare but potentially life-threatening bacterial infection that can cause meningitis and take a child’s life in just a single day. Cases of meningococcal disease begin to peak during the late-winter and early-spring months, so now is a perfect time to be sure children have been vaccinated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that preteens and teens get vaccinated beginning at age 11 with a booster dose by 18 years of age. Despite this recommendation, more than a third of teens 13-17 years of age in this country have not been vaccinated against meningitis, leaving far too many children unprotected.

“Parents may be unaware about the importance of meningococcal vaccination, and that public health officials now recommend a booster dose by 18 years of age,” said Linda Davis-Alldritt, MA, BSN, RN, FNASN, FASHA, and President of the National Association of School Nurses (NASN). “School nurses nationwide have joined with families affected by meningitis and public health officials to educate communities about the dangers of meningitis and the need for vaccination.”

Gaitley Batton knows all too well the dangers of this disease – she contracted meningitis on New Year’s Day as a child. Gaitley was fortunate to survive, but not without consequence – she had to have her leg amputated below the knee due to tissue damage caused by the disease.

Gaitley and her mother Heidi Moody have joined the NASN’s Voices of Meningitis campaign, in collaboration with Sanofi Pasteur, to raise awareness about the disease and the importance of vaccination for preteens and teens.

“I continue to live with the lasting effects of this disease every day,” said Batton. “No one should have to go through what my family and I did, which is why I’m sharing my story. Vaccination is the best way to help protect preteens and teens from this disease.”

About 10 percent of the 1000 to 1200  who get meningococcal meningitis each year will die. Like Gaitley, many who survive this disease – one in five – are left with serious medical problems, including amputation of limbs, brain damage, deafness, and organ damage.

Adolescents are thought to be at increased risk for meningitis because of common, everyday activities they engage in with other teens, like sharing drinking glasses and kissing, since meningococcal bacteria are spread from person to person through close contact. Not getting enough sleep can also increase their risk of getting the disease. A national telephone survey found that nearly 82 percent of teens engage in many of these activities. The result? Teens put themselves at risk for getting meningitis every day, making vaccination all the more important.

“Winter break is a great time to get preteens and teens vaccinated, and parents need to know that any health-care visit is an opportunity to discuss vaccination,” said Moody. “Parents should make it their priority to schedule a vaccination appointment. Don’t wait, do it today.”

Visit, or Raise Your Voice Against Meningitis on Facebook for more information.

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Tips for the hockey parent

(NC) The unsung heroes in Canadian hockey are – without question – the parents. It takes dedication, encouragement, and a whole lot of time and energy to be a hockey parent. Here are some things to keep in mind for all hockey parents, ranging from cost-savers to stress reducers.

  • Take the carpool lane – Connect with other parents on your child’s team and make plans to share the driving to and from games. Not only will carpooling give you a much-needed break a few days a week but it will save you money in gas.
  • Get the right equipment – Suiting your child up for the hockey season is the most important step in preparing them for the game and keeping them safe.
  • Visit for a hockey equipment checklist that outlines everything needed to protect your child from head-to-toe.
  • Be prepared – Save money on last-minute stops to the grocery store or drive-thru by planning ahead. Keep snacks such as crackers, juice boxes and granola bars in the car and pre-program your coffee maker to brew first thing in the morning. This will ensure your hockey player has a chance to eat amidst the busy morning rush and that you stay energized.
  • Have fun – Your child shouldn’t be the only one enjoying the hockey season.
  • If the daily trips to the arena are becoming too much, alternate attending games with another family member.
  • Participate in your own extra-curricular activities – sign up for a class on “hockey-free” days or, if you can’t get enough of the sport, look into an adult hockey league.

Keep these tips in mind to help you and your family thrive this hockey season.

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