November 24, 2020

Is Your Password Policy Strong Enough to Outsmart Cybercriminals?

Implementing a password policy in your company is an easy first step in protecting against costly cyberattacks. Modern hackers are using advanced password software that can use a variety of methods to gain your login information. To combat these hackers and protect your data, strong password guidelines is key.  Below are password policy best practices you can easily implement across your organization to act as the first line of defense against a data breach.

Password Policy Best Practices

Having strict password standards in your company lowers the chances that hackers will be able to get access to your network. Implementing a strong password policy and revisiting it regularly will make sure you are staying on top of the latest hacking strategies. An effective password policy will include guidelines around:

Password Lockout

Lockout rules will cause an account to be inaccessible due to too many failed login attempts, usually after a period before the account will self-reenable. Setting the password lockout to three or four attempts will slow the process of a password being guessed and potentially flag an account as being under attack.

Password Age

Creating guidelines around password age will require a periodic password change for all users. We recommend changing passwords every 60 days. Keeping a password for a long period of time allows a hacker to have a prolonged amount of time for identifying a password. Additionally, there is a higher probability that the password will be reused or identified on the dark web.

Restrictions of Reusing Passwords

Reusing the same account password that was used previously on an organizational account is an extension of the password age parameter above, the longer a password is in use, the more time a hacker has to crack the password.  We recommend your system remembering the last 24 passwords so an account is not able to reuse.

Password Complexity Requirements

Password complexity slows the process of a password being identified. Complexity requirements should include using uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers and symbols for every password created.

Password Length Requirements

Password length also slows the process and lessens the odds that a password would be guessed. We recommend using passwords of 14 characters or more.

Many of these policies are all within the same place on your network server. If your environment is large enough that it has centralized management, such as a domain controller, you can enforce the settings among your group all at once. If a domain controller is not present, applicable settings will have to be applied individually.

Anders Technology can help you develop a strong password policy and implement cybersecurity best practices to protect you and your organization. Contact an Anders advisor to see how we can help you mitigate security risk and defend against a costly cyberattack.

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November 19, 2020

RECORDED WEBINAR – The PPP Loan Forgiveness Gates Have Opened: Are You Equipped to Apply?

Download our recorded webinar to hear from the Anders CARES Act Research and Response Team on new details of PPP loan forgiveness you need to know before applying.

The recorded webinar covers the recent Small Business Administration (SBA) guidance on PPP loan forgiveness and insights on:

  • How to work with your bank now that the application portals are open
  • SBA Necessity Questionnaires Forms 3509 and 3510 
  • Strategies for achieving maximum loan forgiveness

Download the webinar below.

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November 17, 2020

Helped Local Private High School Obtain Forgiveness for $1.5 Million PPP Loan

A St. Louis private high school was looking for help navigating the changing regulations of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan they had received to retain over 100 employees. By partnering with Anders, the organization received guidance and assistance from their advisor and our COVID-19 Resource Center that helped them navigate the nuances and requirements. Anders worked with them to track expenses and submit their $1.5 million PPP loan for full forgiveness.

Learn more about Anders COVID-19 Business Recovery services.

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November 17, 2020

Making Your Business Valuable During COVID-19: Pivoting a Service to a Product

Service companies are disproportionately impacted by the economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. While consumers are cutting back on services to save on costs and avoid human contact, they are still buying products that solve problems and meet their needs. Businesses are purchasing products like Microsoft Teams for teleconferencing and internal communications. Individuals are purchasing home gym equipment instead of a service like a personal trainer. This has caused many service-based businesses to throw away the usual playbook and are pivot to provide a product to their customers.

Pivoting in Action

Rather than having customers visit their restaurant, we have seen restaurants have neighborhood deals to deliver to the consumers. By turning a “Taco Tuesday” into an “emergency burrito with a margarita kit”, customers can have the safety of their own home, but still have a product they desired. After spending all day in the home with their new co-workers (aka children), the taco and a margarita is answer to their unique need.

Making this pivot from a service to a product can help make your business more valuable and should be done strategically. Finding your product’s niche, identifying what problems it will solve and stating expectations to customers are important first steps.

Find Your Niche

One of the first steps is to determine your companies’ niche. This can be counterintuitive because your instinct in a down economy is to need more customers, not less, but it is a critical move in creating a product. Picking your niche helps you focus on a single type of customer and design a product to efficiently reach the target audience. Services are adapted and customized for a variety of customers while a product typically fits one type of buyer.  

Identify the Problem You’re Solving

Rank your services and focus on which can solve a problem. Be clear about what problem your product solves for your niche then brand it. With a service, you are hiring the right person for the job. With a product, you are selling a “thing”, so having a solid brand with a clear purpose is essential for turning your service into the product.

Clearly State Expectations

In order to turn your service into an everyday product, it must have the feel of other products. When you run a service you typically price everything out by the hour. A product has the price tag on it upfront. When you pick up any tangible product at the grocery store, there is a list of their ingredients. Show an itemized list of what your customers get when they buy from you.

Service providers have been hammered by the global pandemic. If you can pivot your service to look and feel more like a product, you can move your company into more stability in these uncertain times. Anders can help your business add value to build a more durable business coming out of the pandemic and help transition the business when you’re ready. Learn more about our Business Transition Planning or COVID-19 Business Recovery services or contact an Anders advisor below.

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November 10, 2020

Flexible, Secure and Cost-Effective Strategies to Build into Your 2021 IT Budget

Year-end budgeting is going to look a lot different this year in the midst of a global pandemic. Business objectives have undoubtedly changed over the past year and innovation is more important than ever to address these changes and recover from the effects of COVID-19. Making the case for flexible, secure and cost-effective technology platforms will be vital going into 2021.

Flexibility

Remote work was forced upon many companies this year, and if virtual work options were not already part of the company’s technology strategy, it caused a lot of time, money and frustration to implement quickly. Being flexible became the name of the game, and the need to be agile is here to stay. In the coming year, businesses will want to build their technology strategy with a focus on flexibility, so as business goals or environmental factors evolve, they can easily adjust using technology. Going into 2021, three flexible strategies to consider are:

Along with having a flexible IT strategy, keeping it secure should also be top-of-mind.

Security

Continuing to maintain and build a robust cybersecurity strategy is another vital focus going into 2021. Cybercriminals are getting more and more sophisticated, and breaches are getting larger and more costly. Now is the time to review your cybersecurity architecture and develop a road map going into the new year that includes:

  • Governance, Risk and Compliance Measures
  • Vulnerability Management
  • Information Protection and Privacy
  • Cybersecurity Training and Testing

Even with the best cybersecurity safeguards in place including backups, firewalls and software patches, it takes one click by an unknowing employee to cost your business a lot of time, money and important data. Employee cybersecurity training can equip everyone in the company with the tools and knowledge needed to do their part in avoiding a data breach.

Flexibility and security are important pieces of every technology strategy for 2021 but coming out of a pandemic, companies also need to be mindful of budgets.

Cost-Effectiveness

With cost-cutting being a reality amidst a global pandemic, business owners and CIOs need to decide which parts of their IT strategy need to be done in-house, and where they can find cost efficiencies by outsourcing.

Anders Technology specializes in bridging the gap in technology needs, from co-managing alongside internal IT staff to supplement expertise, to being the entire IT team, we can step in as much or as little as needed. Below is an example of ways we partner with our clients.

Bridging the Gap in Your Technology Needs | Anders Technology

Anders Technology can help be flexible by taking on more when needed and pivoting the strategy with supplemental resources. With a team of advisors with in-depth knowledge in several areas, we can help you develop a technology strategy that helps you meet business goals while staying secure and cost-conscious. Learn more about Anders Technology or contact an Anders advisor below to get started.

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November 5, 2020

Secured $150,000 in Missouri Small Business Grants for St. Louis Restaurants

With local pandemic restrictions taking a toll on St. Louis restaurants, our CARES Act team helped restaurant clients evaluate and secure much-needed funding. Missouri Small Business Grants were one of the funding options available for eligible food service businesses. Our CARES Act team helped three local restaurants apply and obtain $50,000 each in Missouri Small Business Grants that helped keep their staff employed and doors open.

Learn more about Anders COVID-19 Business Recovery services.

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November 3, 2020

Blues Captain Leaves for Sin City: How State Income Taxes Played a Role in Alex Pietrangelo’s Departure

On January 3, 2019, no one could have predicted that the then St. Louis Blues captain, Alex Pietrangelo, would be hoisting the Stanley Cup at the end of the 2019 season. In early January 2019, the Blues were in last place in the NHL, but the team turned their season around with the help of the song “Gloria”. A little over a year later, Blues fans could not imagine Alex Pietrangelo wearing anything but a Blue Note as he headed towards unrestricted free agency. But in October 2020, the former Blues captain inked a seven-year, $61.6 million contract with the Vegas Golden Knights.

NHL Salary Cap Takes a Hit

It is presumed that one of the major sticking points in the Blues negotiation with Pietrangelo was the amount of signing bonuses included in any potential contract. The ongoing pandemic has limited the cash flow of many businesses throughout the world, and the NHL is not immune to that reality. Before the pandemic hit, the NHL salary cap was anticipated to increase substantially for the upcoming season, but the league decided to keep the salary cap flat for the foreseeable future. The flat salary cap put the Blues in a bind when it came to fitting Pietrangelo in under the salary cap for the upcoming season, which further complicated negotiations. In his deal with Vegas, he will receive $35 million of signing bonuses throughout the life of the seven-year contract, which likely has major tax benefits for the former Blue.

State Income Tax Comes into Play

Nevada is one of nine states that does not have any state income tax. Athletes’ are generally subject to a “jock tax” in states and cities in which they work.  The athletes’ salaries are commonly apportioned to various states and cities using the “duty days” method. This jock tax is levied by states and cities on athletes who play or practice while in town. Assuming Pietrangelo becomes a Nevada resident rather than remaining a Missouri resident, the structure of his contract provides major tax benefits. This means that half of Pietrangelo’s games will be allocated to Nevada, a no income tax state. In addition, signing bonuses are exempt from the Duty Day calculation provided certain criteria are met. Instead, signing bonuses are allocated to an athlete’s resident state. In this case, all of the $35 million in signing bonuses will be allocated to Nevada and not be subject to state income taxes. If he had remained a Missouri resident and signed a similar contact with the Blues, Pietrangelo’s signing bonus would result in Missouri state income taxes of roughly $1.9 million.

For professional athletes, tax compliance and planning can be an issue when it comes to filing in the proper tax authorities. The Anders Sports, Arts and Entertainment Group has the knowledge to help athletes with tax compliance and planning. Contact an Anders advisor below to learn more.

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