Marsh & McLennan Agency Blog

A New Stance on Dietary Cholesterol: What you need to know

In the past, you may have read or even heard from your doctor to limit your dietary cholesterol. That advice is now changing. In the U.S. government’s 2015-2020 “New Dietary Guidelines for Americans” the limit on cholesterol has been removed. Previously, American adults were advised to limit cholesterol in their diet to 300 milligrams a day, which is the equivalent of two eggs.

WHY HAS THE LIMIT BEEN REMOVED?

A good amount of scientific research suggests that there isn’t a strong connection between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol. In fact, the cholesterol in your diet is only responsible for a small fraction of your total blood cholesterol. Your body naturally produces most
cholesterol on its own. Other factors that contribute to blood cholesterol levels include smoking, obesity, physical activity, age, family history and even certain medications.  So, all of these elements must be taken into account when it comes to maintaining healthy blood cholesterol.

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Four Ways to Prepare for Another Active Hurricane Season

Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Irma all had substantial effects on the US and Caribbean in 2017 and now rank among the top five costliest on record, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). With the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasting a similarly active 2018 hurricane season, businesses must take steps now to prepare.

What We Learned in 2017

The sheer number of devastating storms, along with simultaneous earthquakes and wildfires, challenged organizations, their employees, insurers, claims adjusters and consultants, governments, utilities, vendors, and suppliers in 2017. Obtaining qualified expertise, equipment, labor, power, and fuel proved difficult for many organizations without adequate and tested risk management and business continuity plans. Companies also experienced delays in loss assessments, reporting, claims filing, and funds distribution.

Some of the delay was attributable to the varied terms and conditions in insurance policies, which had not been fully vetted prior to sustained losses and were open to interpretation by insureds, insurers, and legal counsel.

If you could be affected by this year’s hurricanes, whether you are located in US regions prone to storms or reliant on suppliers and vendors in such regions, you should consider taking the following preparatory steps. Continue reading…

Four Connected Car Challenges Facing the Auto Industry

The future of the automotive world is currently focused around connected vehicles. A connected vehicle is equipped with access to the internet. This allows the vehicle to share access to the internet with other devices and other technologically-based devices outside of the vehicle, such as traffic signals or weather satellites. As is common with leading edge technologies, connected vehicles are causing new, unforeseen challenges within the industry.

 

Here are 4 of the greatest challenges facing the automotive industry in the era of connected cars.

  1. Big data storage

As the complexity of connected cars grows, especially when it comes to autonomous vehicles, the amount of data required is mind-blowing. For example, BMW has stated that a single vehicle on their autonomous platform generates 16-40 terabytes of information per day! Auto engineers need to figure out how much of the data generated is essential, what data requires storage on board the vehicle, and how much can be off loaded to cloud storage systems.

  1. 5G data systems

The demand for data systems will continue to expand with the advent of connected vehicles. One possible solution to this exploding demand is to transition to 5th generation (5G) wireless networking architecture built on the 802.11ac IEE wireless networking standard, which is expected to increase data communication speeds by up to three times the current 4G architecture. While 5G technology may be the answer, it will increase the cost, which goes against current automotive goals of keeping costs down. The industry as a whole will need to address this issue as the data requirements for connected cars continues to escalate. Continue reading…

Is your router infected by VPNFilter Malware?

It is estimated that about 500,000 routers are infected by malware linked to the Fancy Bear hacking group. This malware, VPNFilter, has the ability to spy on web traffic, collect personal information, disable devices, or hijack them to use for other malicious purposes.

Devices that are known to be affected by VPNFilter include Linksys, MikroTIk, NETGEAR, and TP-Link small office/home routers and QNAP brand NAS (Network Attached Storage) devices. Here is a full list of models impacted.  However, because this malware infects your edge devices (the ones that connect directly to the internet) we still recommend taking additional steps to be secure if you own one of the devices mentioned above.

What should I do to keep secure?

  • Reboot your router immediately
  • If VPNFilter is still present after step 1, perform a hard reset of the device
  • Ensure that your router device is updated to the latest firmware
  • Change router and QNAP storage device admin passwords to a secure password
  • Turn off remote-management settings

For more information, please contact MMA today!

25 Most Commonly Stolen Passwords

How clever is your password? If it’s on the list below, your password is just as easily stolen as it is remembered. Protect yourself by making sure you’re not using one of the top 25 most commonly stolen passwords of 2017, as determined by IT security firm SplashData.

To create a more secure password, make sure you are not relying only on numbers, and try to avoid simple keyboard patterns. You may also want to avoid easy-to-find information such as birthdays, favorite sports teams and addresses.  Attempt to create a password that is eight or more characters long, and avoid using the same password for multiple access points.

  1. 123456
  2. password
  3. 12345678
  4. qwerty
  5. 12345
  6. 123456789
  7. letmein
  8. 1234567
  9. football
  10. iloveyou
  11. admin
  12. welcome
  13. monkey
  14. login
  15. abc123
  16. starwars
  17. 123123
  18. dragon
  19. passw0rd
  20. master
  21. hello
  22. freedom
  23. whatever
  24. qazwsx
  25. trustno1

Contact MMA today with any questions you have concerning cyber security!

Why Personal Cyber Security is Vital Today

The concept of cyber security is becoming well known today. Many people are more concerned than ever about protecting themselves from online threats such as terrorism and espionage. What is cyber security and why is it so important today? What does the future of cyber security look like? What can be done to protect all of us from these online dangers? The paragraphs that follow will answer these important questions.

What is Cyber Security?

Cyber security is a modern term describing a wide variety of techniques designed to protect individuals from online attacks that threaten various aspects of their well-being. Therefore, cyber security could refer to actions taken to prevent online terrorism, espionage, or warfare.

While cyber related threats can be launched on a personal level, in their most severe form, they can attack an entire infrastructure of a country or government. This serious type of threat is one reason why advanced technologies relating to cyber security are consistently sought by government officials all over the world.

Cyber Terrorism

Cyber terrorism occurs when terrorist groups gain access to information through technological sources that further their agenda and allows them to launch terrorist attacks on unsuspecting people.

Cyber Warfare

In a similar vein, cyber warfare refers to gaining access to secure information through technological sources that allow one country to stage a war against another nation. These security breaches are often performed by computer hackers who have advanced technical skills that allow them to bypass security features effectively.
Continue reading…

How Consumers, Enterprises and Insurance Providers Tackle Cyber Risk

The number of instances of hacks, data breaches, system compromises, ransomware and cyber fraud keeps ballooning and shows no indication of stopping.

As the number of instances of hacks, data breaches, system compromises, ransomware, and cyber fraud keeps ballooning and shows no indication of stopping, the insurance industry is striving to keep pace by offering products that will meet the demand for cyber insurance.

The consumer perspective

In many ways, private individuals can have a much easier time deciding to get cybersecurity insurance than businesses.

For one, many have already personally experienced inconveniences, or have seen someone close to them having problems due to comprised personal data. According to the 2017 Identity Fraud Study from Javelin Strategy & Research, there were over 15 million incidents of identity theft in the US in 2016—and that was before the Equifax breach, which resulted in the compromise of names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers of some 143 million US individuals, i.e. 44% of US consumers!

Martin Hartley, Chief Operating Officer, PURE Group of Insurance Companies, predicts that with the increase of fraud, cyber extortion and ransomware attacks, cybersecurity insurance will become a much more standard part of homeowners’ policies in the coming years, as consumers find themselves liable for resulting costs.

“The risk of consumers’ exposure will continue to increase and similarly, consumers can no longer solely rely on financial institutions, retailers and credit card companies to protect their customers’ data,” he says.
Continue reading…

Five Digital Trends in Education

Educators are coming to realize the tremendous opportunity digital technology offers student learning in the U.S. Traditionally, the education sector can be resistant to change, holding on to conventional methods and practices. However, the digital revolution has impacted educational technology; teachers are making significant progress in their use of technology in their instruction, testing and even the physical environment of their classrooms, at a much faster rate than expected. These current trends are making headlines in education because of the impact they are having on student learning and development.

  1. Personalized instruction

Every student is a unique learner, with their own strengths and challenges. In the past, educators often had to apply the same teaching approach to all students in their classroom.

Today’s technological advances have made it possible for teachers to evolve beyond this limiting paradigm. In the classroom of today, teachers are using a “blended learning” approach, that enables them to allow individual students to move through the materials at their own pace and with personalized learning opportunities. While traditional instruction will continue where appropriate, teachers have many more learning techniques that can be employed to better fit the learning style of each unique student.

  1. Augmented and virtual reality

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are game-changers in the world of education. Students are no longer expected to sit at their desks all day long. Education technology has facilitated collaborative and interactive learning opportunities. AR and VR are being used to enhance instruction while simultaneously creating immersive lessons that are fun and engaging for students. Examples include:

  • Giving students the opportunity to choose their learning setting
  • Providing first-hand creative learning experiences (i.e. traveling in a historic time-period)
  • Enabling students to interact with teachers and other students within a virtual reality setting

Current learning applications that are being used in the educational industry include Unimersiv, Cospaces and Magic Leap. While the full impact of VR and AR in the classroom is still not understood, it is clear that these technologies have the potential to increase visual literacy, technological literacy and attention to audience. Continue reading…

Recent Advancements in Solar Energy

The efficiency of solar energy is exceedingly important when it comes to generating power. When it comes to solar cells, the efficiency of the cell not only affects the amount of solar energy that is generated, but also the price per watt.

The efficiency of solar cells has improved over time. When Bell Labs first developed the silicon solar panel in 1954, the efficiency level was a mere 6 percent. By the 1970s, the efficiency had been raised to 14 percent. Today, most solar panels have an efficiency level of between 14 and 23 percent, depending on the model.

Recent advances in solar cell technology has reduced costs and created an increased competitive market among solar panel manufacturers. Every successful development not only improves the efficiency of solar cells, but also improves the reliability and lowers prices. In the last year, several advances have been made that will likely change the future of solar energy, making it more affordable for the average homeowner. Continue reading…