Hills Bank knows firsthand that disasters can happen, which is why we encourage our customers to have a Business Continuity Plan. Preparation is the key to keeping your business functioning after a disaster. These resources will aid in any disaster recovery process, and Hills Bank is available to help make your recovery as quick and smooth as possible.
Partner in Preparedness
Hills Bank and Trust Company was recognized for preparedness efforts as a 2013 Partners in Preparedness from Safeguard Iowa. To become a Partner in Preparedness, criteria are divided into two primary categories: Get Ready and Give Back. Get Ready covers business continuity plans to stay in business, talk to employees, and protect investments. The Give Back criteria ensures that companies volunteer within the community on preparedness efforts. The Partners in Preparedness standards were developed by Safeguard Iowa partners.
Hills Bank and Trust Company also received a plaque from Safeguard Iowa for dedication in making staff more prepared for emergencies during Iowa Preparedness Month 2013. To learn more, or contact Safeguard Iowa for assistance with your business continuity, please visit safeguardiowa.wildapricot.org.
Business Continuity Plan
Follow these steps for a smoother recovery in the event of a disaster:
Review Insurance Coverage:
Inadequate insurance coverage can lead to major financial loss if your business is damaged, destroyed, or simply interrupted for a period of time. Find out what records your insurance provider will want to see after an emergency and store them in a safe place.
Prepare for Utility Disruptions:
Examine which utilities are vital to your business's day-to-day operations, and if necessary, identify back-up options such as portable generators.
Identify any production machinery, computers, custom parts, or other essential equipment needed to keep your business open. Plan how to replace or repair vital equipment or supplies and what to do if your building, plant, or store is not usable.
Back-up Financial Records:
Regularly back-up financial records and other vital information stored on computers. Files should be stored in a portable lockbox, at least 500 miles away.
These Business Continuity documents are available courtesy of the Safeguard Iowa Partnership. Download them today, and make plans so you can stay in business.
Tips for Avoiding Man-made Disasters
As a business owner, you most likely rely on technology to run your business. Even if you don't have a full time IT staff, there are many resources available online that provide information to protect your customers, data, and networks.
Encrypt Your Confidential Information
Encryption is a process designed to protect confidential information by making it unusable/unreadable by parties without the secret code, or "key". It is especially important for businesses to keep their non-public information private. One way is to encrypt any transfer of company or client information before it's sent electronically.
Secure Your Wireless Network
Along with encrypting your confidential information, be sure to encrypt your wireless network with a WPA2 encrypted router. Be sure to change the default name and password of the router, and limit access to your network. If you have a wireless router, turn it off when not in use because hackers can't access it when it is turned off.
Back-up Your Files
To help ensure you don't lose your files even if your device fails, you should back them up regularly with an external hard drive or an online resource. There are many free or low-cost online resources available. A quick online search shows countless options that could work for your specific business needs.
Use Security Software that Updates Automatically
Computer hackers are constantly finding new ways to gain access to financial information, so it's important to have security software up-to-date against the latest threats. Most security software automatically updates against those threats, check to make sure yours is set to automatically update. It's also a good idea to set your operating system and web browser to update automatically.
Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personal information like name, social security number or financial account information online, or by stealing your personal documents. Awareness is your best weapon against many forms of identity theft.
Use Strong Passwords.
Educate employees to use a password that has a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters that would be difficult to guess. Remember to change passwords frequently and never share passwords with anyone. Employees should never store their password on their computer, but if the password needs to be written down, it should be stored in a secure and private place.
Use WiFi Connections with Caution.
Wireless networks usually don’t provide the same level of security as a wired connection, especially in public places like airports and hotels, in order to make it easier to access the network. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, it’s probably best to avoid checking financial account information or accessing company networks through a public WiFi connection.
Protect Smartphones Against Attack
New cell phones with internet capabilities (aka smartphones) essentially are lower-end personal computers. Many rules and practices applied to your computer carry over to your PDA or smartphone. Use these security tips to defend your cell phone and PDA against attacks:
- Do not leave devices unattended in public or easily accessible areas.
- Make use of password protection.
- Beware of unsolicited or suspicious text messages and emails, especially when soliciting personal or financial information.
- Do not download games or other software from sites you do not trust.
- Disable functions such as Bluetooth and WiFi when not in use.
- Take advantage of security features on your smartphone or PDA.
Internet Browser Security.
Never allow browsers to remember your username and password. When finished, be sure to logout completely to terminate your online session. If employees are using a shared computer, educate them on clearing out the browser history and deleting temporary files and history after logging out of accounts. When browsing the internet, employees can double check https websites by verifying the padlock icon on the status bar to view the security ticket for the site. In the “Issued to” popup window, the name should match the intended website. If it doesn’t match, it could be a spoofed site.
Monitor Your Accounts.
Hills Bank makes it easy to monitor your accounts with online banking and mobile banking. Alerts can be set for various types of account activity. Wouldn’t it be better to get a text message or email within hours of an account withdrawal to ensure the transaction was authorized rather than waiting to discover fraud up to a month later on an account statement?
For more information on arming yourself and your employees with knowledge against ID theft, please view hillsbank.com’s ID theft video. It’s a great resource that provides information on ID theft and how to prevent it, and the steps to take in case you or your employees become a victim.
Other online resources to protect your business online:
- Department of Homeland Security
- Federal Communications Commission
- Federal Trade Commission
- Small Business Administration
Hills Bank and Trust Company and Safeguard Iowa Partnership Co-sponsor Upcoming Business Continuity Workshops
With all of the priorities faced by businesses, emergency and continuity planning is not always at the top of the “to do” list. That’s why Hills Bank and Trust Company has partnered with the Safeguard Iowa Partnership to provide useful tools to help businesses prepare for the worst. “We typically hear that customers know it’s important, but can’t find the time,” explained Jay Allpress, Information Security Officer for Hills Bank. “We want to provide tools to make the process easier.”
“We have a plan in place and this gave us a chance to review and update it,” explained Pam Jaben, Executive Officer with the Iowa City Area Association of Realtors. Jaben said she would “absolutely recommend” the workshops to other businesses. She stressed that plans should be regularly reviewed rather than filed away.
David Kacena started his planning at the beginning of the year and viewed the workshop as a chance to learn more about the process. Kacena, who owns a property management firm, wanted to be sure his business was not part of the 40% that typically do not survive a disaster. He was motivated in part because of his sister’s experiences during the recent Joplin, Missouri tornadoes. “I was headed in the right direction, and this provided me with more encouragement,” he said. In addition to the useful templates and tools, Kacena said he is considering a disaster’s impact on key employees who might be affected. He is developing procedures to hire temporary workers to fill that void. Kacena would “strongly recommend” the workshop to other business owners.
The workshops have been so successful that Hills Bank is planning to offer them again later this year. If your business or association is interested in attending a future business continuity lunch-and-learn, workshop, or seminar, contact Carrie Ebel at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 319-358-2272.
Additional Online Resources
Below are additional Business Continuity resources.
|American Red Cross Ready Rating||http://readyrating.org|
|Disaster Resistant Business (DRB) Toolkit||http://www.drbtoolkit.org|
|FEMA Independent Study Program||http://training.fema.gov/IS/|
|Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety Open for Business Basic||http://www.disastersafety.org|
|Iowa Contingency Plan||http://www.blr.com|
|National Federation of Independent Businesses||http://www.nfib.com|
|U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Civic Leadership Center||http://bclc.uschamber.com|
|U.S. Small Business Administration Prepare My Business||http://preparemybusiness.org|
To contact a local Hills Bank Commercial Deposits Representative, call 1-800-445-5725 (HILLSBK).
Businesses can contact their local FEMA, or SBA office, or contact a Hills Bank Commercial Lender at
Business Credit Card and/or Merchant Processing Assistance
Business credit card customers who need to discuss credit options may call a Hills Bank Commercial Lender at 1-800-445-5725(HILLSBK). Merchant Processing customers experiencing difficulties with accepting credit cards after a disaster should call Hills Bank Commercial Support at 1-866-890-3109. For all other Commercial Services, call 1-866-890-3109.
For additional questions about Business Continuity feel free to contact Hills Bank's Security Department at