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

Courtesy of BPT

How to think like a buyer when getting your property ready to sell

The house is finally done after a whole lot of “blood, sweat and tears”, and now it’s time to get your wholesale flip “retail buyer ready”. Real estate investors all have the same question at this point; how can I make my house stand out from the other homes for sale in the neighborhood? The answer is quite simple. Your home has to make a better first impression than your competition. Your potential buyer has to want to come inside from the moment they drive up to the house. So how do you do that?

Learn to think like a buyer!

Curb Appeal Is Everything!

Pay special attention to the landscaping and keep the grass cut and trimmed while your house is for sale. If you are selling during the summer months, extra watering may be needed to keep the lawn in tip top shape.

    Give your yard a manicured look. It will really pay off to spend a few dollars to have the plants neatly trimmed, the planting beds weeded, and fresh mulch put down. A great touch is to put brightly colored flowers near the front of the house. You might even want to add a couple of pots of flowers at or near the front door well give it an extra touch. Be sure to pick plants that don’t need daily watering.

All your windows should be sparkling clean on the exterior as well as the interior.

Take a good look at your front door. Does it need a fresh coat of paint or maybe just a good cleaning?

Spend a few dollars and replace your old mailbox, then add some attractive house numbers. These simple things will give your house a polished look.

Make sure your deck or patio in the back yard is neat and inviting. You want your buyers to be able to imagine entertaining or just relaxing in this space at the end of the day. A power washer can be rented for about $40-$50 dollars if heavy duty cleaning is needed. Go ahead and power-wash any siding on your house at the same time.

Store all garden equipment and trash containers out of sight.

Look at the interior of the house through “buyer’s eyes”

Have a professional do a thorough house cleaning when the house is finished, paying special attention to the kitchen and the bathrooms. Remember these are the rooms that sell houses!

Make sure all floors have been cleaned and are in good condition. This also applies to any carpet that hasn’t been replaced.

Give the house the “sniff test”. Does it smell good?

Buyers don’t want to have to paint before moving in, so be sure the house is painted in neutral colors. Painting the trim a crisp white makes the home look modern and inviting.

Home staging always pays big dividends! Consider doing some simple home staging so that prospective buyers can imagine what the home will look like with furniture in it.

Does the basement have a “musty” smell? Figure out what the problem is and correct it.

Does everything in the house function properly? Make sure all the light bulbs are working, and all of the cabinet handles and doorknobs are securely attached. Walk through the house and give it the same scrutiny that a buyer will, double checking the smallest details in the home.

Be sure to change your filters. If the furnace or AC filter hasn’t been replaced during the rehab, clean or replace it.

Author: Sharon Vornholt

Sharon’s Website:

Land lease your new home to save money

The most traditional ways to call any home your own is to rent or buy it. Another option, however, is quickly gaining recognition in Canada. It’s called land lease and it applies to both permanent and recreational homes. No matter whether you are downsizing, searching for a seasonal home, or are a first time buyer, the land lease option is one way to save a significant amount of money on your home purchase.


Land lease as a real estate model isn’t new; it’s been embraced in the United States where it’s a $14 billion a year business, as well as in the United Kingdom and other European countries. The idea is simple: you purchase a residence and rent the land it sits on. So you own the home and the land is owned by a larger company and leased out to you. Residents share common areas and amenities and outdoor maintenance is taken care of by staff. In fact, land lease neighborhoods often become close-knit communities with regular activities and social events bringing everyone together.


“The land lease option offers Canadians the opportunity to own a home they can afford, in a setting that is well-maintained and in a neighborhood that fosters community spirit,” says Andrew Blair, president and CEO of Parkbridge Lifestyle Communities Inc. Parkbridge is reported to be the largest owner and operator of residential land lease communities and resorts in Canada with 92 properties in B.C., Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick.


“On average, home owners in our residential communities spend 20-40% less on a land lease sale than a traditional home sale, and the saving is even greater when it comes to resort properties. New park models start at $20,000 and cottages at $100,000. You can’t buy a summer home for that price that also includes beach access, lake views, tennis courts and pools.”


Blair says that Parkbridge offers several types of land lease options including traditional, modular and mobile home communities for those aged 50 plus as well as for residents of all ages, and resort properties such as park models, chalets or cabins that can be used almost year round. The company also offers marina rentals on Georgian Bay and Lakes Scugog and Simcoe. “Land lease really offers peace of mind and pride of ownership to many Canadians who otherwise would be stuck with a higher mortgage or increased debt.”

Courtesy of Newscanada

Learn the details of counter depth refrigerators

If you are unsatisfied with the space in your kitchen, but need lots of room in the fridge, you should consider counter depth refrigerators. This kind of appliance does not stick out any farther than your kitchen cabinets, which means that it takes up less room than a traditional fridge. However, it is often a bit taller than most refrigerators so that you do not lose much space when it comes to storing your food. Think about the details to consider before you start browsing counter depth refrigerators.

This kind of fridge usually has different measurements than most types, as it usually sticks out into the walkway a few inches less than most, but is a few inches taller. This means that you need an appropriately high ceiling in order to fit this fridge into your home, so be sure that you measure the height as well as the depth. Of course, you should also consider the width like you would before buying any fridge, but the width of most counter depth refrigerators is typically the same as other types.

If you want to add style to your kitchen while adding space, you should consider counter depth refrigerators that blend into the cabinetry. If you go this route, you will need a custom fridge company, but the results are often worth it since having matching cabinets and appliances is certainly unique. Keep in mind that many of the popular counter depth refrigerators on the market come in the French door style, adding to the classy appearance that most homeowners crave.

Of course, you can expect to pay a little more for this kind of fridge than most others, as the style is unique and up-to-date. Consider how important your kitchen's image is to you. If you rarely use it or show it off and want to save money, you might be better off sticking to traditional top freezer or side-by-side styles. However, homeowners who spend a lot of time in their kitchen and enjoy showing it off to guests will likely find this a worthy investment in their home.

Counter depth refrigerators are not for everyone, and if this style does not appeal to you, remember that there are several other types of fridges on the market. Before you browse counter depth refrigerators, you should first decide if this is the style you really want and can afford. The next step is to measure your kitchen and make sure that it will fit, and then determine whether you want a counter depth fridge from the store or from a custom refrigerator builder. Thinking about these details first can ensure that you are satisfied with this major purchase.

by: Heather Mills 

Four fast fixes for a fabulous shower

For many people, the shower is an escape from reality … perhaps the only ‘me time’ in an otherwise hectic day. But if your current shower isn’t living up to your relaxing expectations, it may be time for a facelift.- Don’t think you have the time or money? Don’t throw in the towel just yet – an improved shower is within your reach. Simply follow these four quick and easy fixes that will make an amazing improvement to the everyday enjoyment of your shower.

Curves ahead

Shower curtains may keep water where it should be, but they also have a tendency to make a shower feel smaller, dark and cramped. An easy solution to this problem is to install a curved shower rod. These unique rods add an elegant and luxurious look to the room while also moving the curtain away from your body, creating a more comfortable experience and adding up to 7 inches of elbow room. –Moen offers a variety of styles, including a double curved shower rod that can be used to separate the decorative curtain from the liner – or to provide an additional bar to hang towels. Whatever curved shower rod you choose, be sure to coordinate the finish to match the rest of your bath fixtures.

Downsize and organize

Fewer people are living alone these days, reports the National Association of Home Builders, which means you likely share your shower with others. A shower shelf is an ideal solution to provide adequate storage and keep everyone’s everyday essentials neat and easily within reach. The Moen Home Care Designer Grab Bar with Shelf adds the storage capabilities of a straight or corner shelf with the safety of a grab bar – all with a stylish design in the latest finishes.

Chance of showers

A simple showerhead update can dramatically improve your showering experience. With several styles available, the only difficult part is figuring out which one will suit your needs the best.

Rainshowers – If you’re looking for relaxing, full-body coverage, a rainshower is the right choice for you. These showerheads are often larger than their standard counterparts, allowing the user to receive all-over coverage rather than a concentrated spray.

Handheld showers – With a handheld shower you’re able to bring the water flow directly to you. This type of shower allows for any family member – no matter the size or age – to safely and easily shower.

Standard showerheads – Standard showerheads are far from basic. With many collections offering multi-function spray settings, it’s easy to create a personalized showering experience.

Hang it up

The final step to a fabulous shower experience is to ensure you have a place nearby to hang a warm robe and towel. Adding a robe hook or towel bar just outside the shower is a simple solution that can also add a stylish accent to your bathroom. If you currently have a Moen faucet, be sure to select the matching Moen accessories to ensure complete coordination throughout your bath. Moen also offers several non-matching collections, such as the Parlor Collection, which coordinate with a variety of bath faucet styles.- The Moen Parlor Collection features a unique pullout robe hook, which allows each hook to be used traditionally, or extended to hang multiple items. And, once you’ve added new accessories, finish off the renovated space with a plush robe and matching towel set.

By following these simple and inexpensive fixes, your shower can become an everyday retreat for relaxation and enjoyment. For more information visit

Courtesy of BPT

Help your child reach their full potential

(NC)-We aren’t born with a sense of identity. This develops over time as we learn about ourselves by interacting with our parents, teachers, relatives, and other adults who care for us. The messages — both spoken and unspoken — that we take and learn from the important people in our lives determine how we feel about ourselves. To grow into healthy and strong adults, all children need a positive sense of themselves — what experts call high self-esteem. Self-esteem means being proud of who you are, whatever your gender, skin color, or physical ability; whatever language you speak, culture or class you are from, or religion you practice. It’s the foundation for developing successful relationships as children and adults.


Children who feel capable and good about themselves are more likely to:

• Do well in school and to have a more optimistic outlook;

• Be more open to people from other backgrounds;

• Be less fearful of differences;

• And are less likely to put others down.


Sometimes kids need activities outside of school to excel and shine, and that’s where after school programs can come in. These programs, often offered by community-based organizations, provide structured and supervised activities such as computer instruction, sports, literacy tutoring, music and art lessons, nutrition guidance, and help with homework.


“After having funded hundreds of Canada’s best after school programs, we’ve learned that kids enrolled in these programs develop enhanced social behaviors and are more motivated to excel and stay in school,” says Jasmina Zurovac, director of corporate donations at RBC. “This in turn has a positive impact on a child’s self-esteem.”


The RBC After School Grants Project supports programs that help kids learn, grow and reach their full potential. Visit school for more information.

Courtesy of Newscanada