Should my business consider cyber insurance?

Posted on 9 September 2021
Should my business consider cyber insurance?

Well Covered
(Steadfast)

Cyber insurance has recently become a highly discussed topic. Cybercrime is on the rise, with criminals becoming increasingly audacious in their attacks.

For instance, the world recently watched on in horror as a large part of the US population was unable to access fuel as hackers infiltrated a utility company’s IT system and shut it down.

Even more recently, in Australia hackers brought down the back end of the Nine Network, which owns major TV and radio stations and newspapers, disrupting broadcasts.

Gerry Power is the head of sales of specialist cyber insurance provider Emergence Insurance. He says large attacks like these mean small businesses can longer ignore cyber threats.

“Every time I pick up a newspaper, somebody’s talking about ransomware or cyberattacks. Smaller businesses can’t say they don’t understand the threat.” He says at the moment the top cyber exposures are business email compromise, ransomware and human error.

In response to the heightened threat, governments have become much more active in stamping out cybercrime, Power explains. “Governments and regulators are acting to control ransomware. In Australia, the federal government is ramping up efforts and regulation to protect personal data. There’s also a push to make it mandatory for companies to disclose if they have paid money in a ransomware attack. So there is massive amounts happening behind the scenes.”

“Cyber insurance also provides cover for the cost of any litigation from affected parties ”

How to reduce cyber risks

When it comes to developing a robust approach to cyber security in small business, start by trying to understand your security controls and security posture.

“The challenge in this space for smaller businesses is they’re so focused on trying to keep the business afloat during what has been a very difficult 12 months, they haven’t addressed their cyber risks in the way they should,” says Power.

To address this, the first thing businesses need to do is ensure they are backing up data properly. “One of the ways that we can avoid paying a ransom is if a business has meticulously backed up their data every single day. That means if there is an attack, we can wipe the system and build it back up from back-ups so we don’t have to pay a ransom,” he adds.

It’s not enough just to have backed up the data, it also needs to be recoverable. Says Power: “Sometimes we find when we go to retrieve the data, it’s faulty or compromised. So test back-ups work before an attack happens to give yourself peace of mind your data is recoverable.”

Automatic updates of the system’s anti-virus software are also a must.

Cyber help for small business

It can be hard for businesses focusing on their day-to-day operations to know how to identify the right sort of cyber health.

“Many smaller businesses put blind faith in their managed IT services provider or consultant. But it’s also essential to invest an appropriate amount in your systems and controls. Your IT expert should be abler to guide you here,” says Power.

Cyber insurance also plays a key role. This cover provides protection for businesses and allows them to transfer losses arising from a cyberattack to the insurer. Power explains there are three main cyber risks SMEs can manage through insurance.

“The first one we call first party costs, such as IT forensics, remediation and public relations and marketing costs to communicate to affected people. If there is a loss of data, there may also be an obligation to report this to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner or the Privacy Commissioner, which also has a cost attached. These costs are borne by the business if there is no insurance policy in place.”

Cyber insurance also provides cover for the cost of any litigation from affected parties and loss of profits if your business experiences a cyber breach.

But it’s important to realise insurance is just one part of the cyber puzzle. Taking a proactive approach to your business’s cyber health is crucial. Staff training and the right IT support and infrastructure can play a critical role in reducing the risk of an attack.

With threats only increasing, now’s the time to take a look at your cyber protocols to ensure if there is an attack, you’re as prepared as possible. Speaking to an insurance broker is a good place to start. They will be able to assist you in identifying cyber related risks and selecting cover that is suitable for your circumstances.

This article provides information rather than financial product or other advice. The content of this article, including any information contained in it, has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider the appropriateness of the information, taking these matters into account, before you act on any information. In particular, you should review the product disclosure statement for any product that the information relates to it before acquiring the product.

Information is current as at the date the article is written as specified within it but is subject to change. Steadfast Group Ltd and Steadfast Network Brokers make no representation as to the accuracy or completeness of the information. Various third parties have contributed to the production of this content.

 

Posted in:News  

How to give your finances a health check

Posted on 12 August 2021
How to give your finances a health check

Money and Life
(Financial Planning Association of Australia)

How healthy are your finances? Isn't it time you put your own financial wellbeing front and centre? You can take control of your financial future quickly and easily, with a simple financial health check.

Just like your physical health, it's worth giving your finances a check-up once in a while. Over time, unhealthy spending habits can creep in, threatening to derail your progress. Here's how to give your finances a health check and find out where you can make some healthy gains.

Step 1: Take your financial pulse

Understanding where you stand with your finances is the first and most important step. It's also the one many people struggle with! Taking a close look at your financial situation can be uncomfortable, but it's a lot easier than you might think, and, essential, if you want to achieve your goals.

Here's how to analyse your spending and put a budget in place:

  • Use a spreadsheet or online budgeting tool to record all of your essential and non-essential expenses.
  • Fill out each category using figures collected from your invoices and bills. Using real figures will give you a more accurate idea of your spending.
  • Check how your expenses add up against your income. Are you overspending? Look for areas where you can cut back. Underspending? Great, you'll have some wiggle room to put towards your financial goals.

Read more: Top negotiating tips to cut your bills now

Step 2: Get the basics working for you

Once you've got your spending into shape, take a look at these financial fundamentals. Do you need to work off any debt or gain some healthy savings?

  • Debt - Like carrying a few extra kilos, debt can creep up and become a burden before you know it. Put a repayment plan in place and stick to it. Be specific about the amounts and timeframes. Check out these smart strategies for paying down debt.
  • Emergency fund - Like health insurance for your finances, an emergency fund gives you a buffer against the unexpected. Aim to build up enough funds in a separate account to cover six months' worth of living expenses.
  • Superannuation If you want to stay financially fit and healthy into old age, you need to lay the groundwork now. You can use the Moneysmart retirement planner to work out how much super you'll have when you retire. If you need to top up your super, you can do so by salary sacrificing or making after-tax payments to your super. Find out how to do a superannuation health check.
  • Insurance It's important to protect your earning ability and assets in case of the unexpected. Make sure you have enough total and permanent disability, income protection and life insurance cover to protect you and your family.

Read more: Why financial wellbeing is a pillar of good health

Step 3: Set yourself some healthy goals

Once your finances are on the path to good health, you can set yourself some bigger goals. This is the fun part, where you get to dream about all the things you'd like to do, have or experience.

Your financial goals could range from the more practical, like buying a house, setting up an investment portfolio or paying off debt, to the enjoyable, like taking a holiday or moving to the beach. Whatever it is you want to do, this is your opportunity to envision it.

Try brainstorming as many goals as you can. Write down each one of your ideas on a post-it note. Give yourself a set amount of time to generate a stack of ideas, then prioritise them using the post-it notes. Select the top two or three to work towards and use them to motivate you.

Related: Shut out the noise for better financial choices

Step 4: Put your financial fitness plan in place

The best goals are ones that are supported by a plan. Now that you've detoxed your finances and identified your goals, you need to work out how to get there. Depending on your goals and your timeframe, saving alone may not be enough. You might need to consider other ways, like investing, to grow your income. This is where a financial planning professional can help. A financial expert can advise you on strategies to achieve your financial goals.

 
Posted in:News  

RBA warns of rise in unemployment rate

Posted on 9 August 2021
RBA warns of rise in unemployment rate

Colin Brinsden, AAP Economics and Business Correspondent
(Australian Associated Press)

The Reserve Bank of Australia has warned the unemployment rate is expected to increase in the near term due to the lockdowns in parts of the country which will see the economy contract in the September quarter.

This is largely the result of the lengthy virus lockdown in Greater Sydney and regional NSW areas.

Last month's lockdowns in Victoria and South Australia will have also left a negative mark, as will the current restrictions in Queensland.

"The economic outlook for the coming months is uncertain and depends upon the evolution of the health situation and the containment measures," RBA governor Philip Lowe said in a statement.

"Beyond that, the bank's central scenario is for the economy to grow by a little over four per cent over 2022."

Dr Lowe also expects the jobless rate will resume its downward trend, reaching 4.25 per cent at the end of 2022 and four per cent a year later.

The unemployment rate fell to a decade low of 4.9 per cent in June.

The central bank left its key interest rate policies unchanged at Tuesday's monthly board meeting, including the cash rate at a record low 0.10 per cent.

Dr Lowe reiterated that in an environment of rising housing prices and low interest rates, the bank is monitoring trends in housing borrowing carefully and it is important that lending standards are maintained.

The central bank may draw some comfort that demand for home loans and applications to build homes are falling.

New Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows the value of new home loans fell 1.6 per cent in June to $32.1 billion. For owner-occupiers, loans fell by 2.5 per cent to $22.9 billion.

"While this was the largest fall since May 2020, owner-occupier commitments remained 76 per cent higher compared to a year ago and 64 per cent higher than pre-COVID levels in February 2020," ABS head of finance and wealth Katherine Keenan said.

The number of home building approvals also fell 6.7 per cent to 18,911 in June, including an 11.8 per cent tumble in private sector houses to 12,037.

This was the third consecutive monthly decline reflecting the unwinding of pandemic stimulus measures, such as HomeBuilder, the ABS said.

Unsurprisingly, confidence among Sydneysiders fell sharply in the past week following the extension of the NSW virus lockdown to the end of this month.

However, Australians have got a spring back in their step in other parts of the country after restrictions were eased in Victoria and South Australia.

Overall, the weekly ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index a pointer to future household spending rose 1.1 per cent after two weeks of hefty falls.

Confidence slumped by seven per cent in Sydney, but was partly offset by a two per cent rise in Victoria and a 2.9 per cent increase in South Australia.

Sentiment in Brisbane was also up 2.7 per cent, but the majority of the survey was completed before the three-day lockdown in southeast Queensland was announced, ANZ head of Australian Economics David Plank noted.

Posted in:News  

Renting out all or part of your home

Posted on 5 August 2021
Renting out all or part of your home

(ATO)

When you rent out all or part of your residential house or unit through a digital platform, like Airbnb, Home Away or Flipkey, you:

  • need to keep records of all income earned and declare it in your income tax return
  • need to keep records of expenses you can claim as deductions
  • don't need to pay GST on amounts of residential rent you earn.

If you are carrying on an enterprise renting out commercial residential premises, such as a commercial boarding house, you will have different income tax and GST obligations. However, just because you provide services in addition to providing a room (for example, provide breakfast or cleaning services) doesn't mean that you are providing 'board' or anything else other than renting out your space. It is rare for someone to be carrying on a business because they are renting out a property.

How GST applies to residential rent

GST doesn't apply to residential rent. You're not liable for GST on the rent you charge, and you can't claim any GST credits for associated expenses.

This applies even if you carry on another GST-registered enterprise. For example, if you're a ride-sourcing driver, you will need to account for GST on your ride-sourcing activity, but you don't need to account for GST from income earned from renting out a room or a house or unit. This is because GST doesn't apply to residential rent.

You have to pay GST if you provide accommodation in commercial residential premises, such as a hotel room or serviced apartment, a bed and breakfast, or if you rent out commercial spaces like a function room or office space. These types of accommodation are subject to GST.

Income and deductions for renting out your home

If you rent out all or part of your house or unit, the payments you receive are assessable income. This means:

  • you must declare the income as rental income in your tax return
  • you can only claim deductions for associated expenses apportioned:
    • for the time the room/property is rented (or occupied for payment), and
    • to reflect only the part of the property that is rented.

It doesn't matter who registers on the platform, income is declared by the owners of the property, according to their ownership or lease interest in the property. For example, if you have a 12-month lease on an apartment and occasionally rent out a room through a digital platform, you will need to declare any income you earn from this.

You may also need to pay capital gains tax (CGT) when you sell the house or unit. Even if the house or unit is your main residence, renting out any part of it usually means losing part of your CGT main residence exemption.

You will need to keep records such as:

  • statements from platforms that show your income
  • receipts of any expenses you want to claim deductions for.

How capital gains tax applies

You make a capital gain if you sell a CGT asset, such as a house, and make a profit. Any gain you make is assessable income and you must include that amount in your tax return for the year that you make the gain. The amount of tax you pay on a capital gain depends on a range of factors including when you bought and sold the asset, the cost of the asset, your other taxable income, and how you use the asset.

A capital gain from the sale of your main residence is usually exempt from capital gains tax (CGT). However, if you use your main residence to earn income, for example by renting out a room on a sharing economy platform, you will no longer eligible for the full CGT exemption on that main residence. You will lose a portion of your main residence exemption based on the floor area rented out, and the length of time it was rented.

There are some circumstances where you won't lose the CGT main residence exemption, for example where you move completely out of your main residence to live in another home for a period of time.

If you use a sharing economy platform to rent out all or part of a property that you don't own, CGT doesn't apply to you.

 

Posted in:News  
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