Posts Tagged ‘business tips’

What Would You Do If The Internet Went Dark?

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016
Data Security Planning - Ohio CPA Firm

Once again, weak usernames and passwords were to blame although, unlike in the past, individual users weren’t the primary culprits. According to United States security researchers, hackers utilized common electronic devices, such as DVRs, webcams and digital recorders, to execute a complex internet-wide attack. Read on to find out what you can do to protect your devices, your cloud-based data and yourself.

These days it’s not uncommon for our lives and our businesses to be managed almost entirely online. From our communications and calendars to our thermostats and security systems, while the internet may have made us more efficient, it has also made us more vulnerable. And these days, the safety of our networks and databases are never guaranteed – a lesson that was made abundantly clear after last week’s massive cyberattack.

Weak Usernames, Passwords Are (Once Again) To Blame

As most of you already know, some of your favorite websites took a hit last week. And as much as you may have wanted to take to Twitter to vent your frustration – you couldn’t. So, what happened? Once again, weak usernames and passwords were to blame although, unlike in the past, individual users weren’t the primary culprits. According to United States security researchers, hackers utilized common electronic devices, such as DVRs, webcams and digital recorders, to execute a complex internet-wide attack. The massive distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attack was made possible thanks to weak default usernames and passwords found in the internet-connected hardware. This attack was the result of a Mirai botnet attack, which is specifically designed to scan the internet for poorly secured products and then access them through easily guessable passwords like “admin” or “12345.” Earlier this month, after security experts gained access to the botnet’s source code, which was released to the hacker community, it was discovered that the botnet was designed to try a list of more than 60 combinations of user names and passwords. Officials with Level 3 Communications, a provider of internet backbone services, estimates this recent attack was also the result of a Mirai malware attack that infected more than 500,000 devices.

Read Also: Cloud-Based Data Storage Solutions Aren’t Risk-Free

Unlike botnets that typically rely on PCs, Mirai malware targets internet-connected devices that have weak default passwords, making them easy to infect, said Michel Kan a correspondent for PCWorld. More botnets like Mirai will appear unless the hardware industry can move away from default passwords. Hangzhou Xiongmai Technology Co Ltd, a Chinese electronics component manufacturer, said because its products inadvertently played a role in last week’s cyberattack the manufacturer will recall some of the products it sold in the U.S. The Chinese company said the security flaws associated with its products were patched in September 2015 and that its devices now ask customers to change the default password when used for the first time. However, products running older versions of the firmware are still vulnerable. Users with older versions of the company’s products can still protect themselves by updating their product’s firmware and change the default username and passwords or simply take their products offline by disconnecting them from the internet.

Protect Your Devices

Do you own a device that connects to the internet? Take the following precautions to prevent a hacker from infiltrating your system:

  • Check for updates regularly.
  • The first time you pull your device out of the package, change the password.
  • Disable features and services that you don’t need or won’t use.
  • Turn off your devices when they aren’t in use.
  • Pay close attention to your privacy settings.

Protect Your Cloud-Based Data

A lot of times, individuals and businesses will consider cloud-based data storage solutions to be more secure, but the way I see it, if it’s online, it can be hacked – regardless of how many safety protocols you may have in place. Criminals continue to look for new ways to infiltrate our online devices therefore, it is reasonable to assume, that they are looking for cracks in the cloud-based security solutions as well. This article will give you more insight into the risks you may be taking on if you were to move all your data to the cloud.

Protect Yourself

For more information and insight about protecting yourself online, read my comprehensive whitepaper: Cybercrime: The Invisible Threat That Haunts Your Business. By Joe Welker, CISA (New Philadelphia office)

Check out these articles for more helpful cybersecurity insight:

Top 5 Reasons Why Every Business Should Have A Business Continuity & IT Disaster Recovery Plan

How To React To A Data Breach

Can A Cybercriminal Crack Your Company’s Network?

Share Button

Building Bridges

Monday, July 18th, 2016

Closing The Gender Gap In The Workplace

Closing Gender Gap - Ohio CPA Firm

The percentage of women in the workforce increases every year, but that’s not necessarily reflected by the percentage of women in leadership positions. Additionally, women are often being paid less to do the same job as men, despite having equal qualifications and experience. Regardless of your gender or position within the company, we all have a responsibility to help close this gap.

We’ve certainly come a long way from the old days, when women in the workforce were expected to be seen and not heard. As anyone who has ever watched an episode of “Mad Men” (or worked during that era and lived to tell about it!) can attest, the workplace was exclusively a man’s world.

But despite our progress, the gender gap in the business community continues to be a hot topic these days. Shouldn’t men and women be paid the same to do the same job? Haven’t women proven that they are just as skilled, intelligent and driven as their male counterparts? Why does a gender gap still exist, anyway?

I’d like to think that no one intentionally denies their employees equal opportunities and fair pay for any reason, including gender. But, unfortunately, it does happen – even if it’s just on a subconscious level.

An organization is only as strong as its employees. Men and women are equal and integral parts of the equation. Successful companies recognize that diverse opinions and skill sets are invaluable assets to the modern business, and they have begun to hire and promote accordingly.

The percentage of women in the workforce increases every year, but that’s not necessarily reflected by the percentage of women in leadership positions. Additionally, women are often being paid less to do the same job as men, despite having equal qualifications and experience. Regardless of your gender or position within the company, we all have a responsibility to help close this gap.

LEADERSHIP: You Hold the Keys to Change

Even if your intentions are pure, your actions may fall short. Remember, your employees are following your lead, so be sure you’re setting the proper tone at the top. For help, survey your employees to find out how you’re doing in this area. You can also take the following steps to help close the gender gap in your business:

  • Ensure that women are represented at all levels of the company, and keep them involved in management decisions.
  • Pay women equally as their male counterparts.
  • Don’t assume that a woman with family obligations isn’t up for the challenge of a promotion or increased responsibility.
  • Take time to listen to the concerns of women within your organization and foster an environment of open communication.

MEN: You Play an Important Role, Too

It’s the job of every man in the company to respect and treat their female colleagues as equals. You can do this by:

  • Becoming aware of communication differences between genders and encouraging women to participate and offer their ideas.
  • Actively working to include your female colleagues in the same way you do other men.

LADIES: Support One Another

Women in leadership positions have a unique opportunity to support other females in the organization, both by serving as mentors and acting as “spokeswomen” for gender issues with upper management. Additionally,
women can:

  • Organize and participate in groups that address common issues women face in the workplace.
  • Be visible. Make sure company leadership sees your work ethic and initiative, and ensure your opinions are heard.
  • Find ways to connect with your male colleagues.

Men and women bring different yet equally valuable perspectives to the workplace, and all contributions should be respected. We’re on the same team, working toward the same goal — let’s ensure we always act accordingly.

By Lesley Mast, CPA, MAcc-Taxation (Wooster office)

Want more insight into this topic?

Check out Lesley’s podcast episode, “girls & glass ceilings: the gender gap,” on unsuitable on Rea Radio. You can listen to the podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud and at www.reacpa.com/episode-20.

Share Button

What’s Hotter Than Summertime Tax Prep?!

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

You don’t have to answer that. And also don’t be fooled into believing the the famous Porgy and Bess lyric: “Summertime and the living is easy.”  In fact, can we all just agree that summer can be just as hectic (if not more so) as the other three seasons. But in your hurry to balance kids, vacation planning and your other daily responsibilities, try to make time get your finances in order and prepare for the upcoming tax season.

No, we are not delirious from too much sun. Summertime tax prep can actually save you a ton of work later on while effectively easing your tax burden. Don’t believe me? Here are four posts that might make summertime living a little less stressful!

  1. The Do’s and Don’ts of Summertime Tax Prep: Frankly, who has time to think about itemized deductions and tax-free distributions when you would rather be grilling out, soaking in the sun, or enjoying your family vacation? But now is a great time to look at your taxes and make necessary adjustments to effectively sidestep any potential problems that might cause problems when tax season does arrive.
  2. School’s Out For Summer, But Tax Credits Are Still In: Summer is an exciting time for families. It’s a time to get outside and have fun hanging out by the pool or to catch fireflies in a jar at the end of a long day. For many parents though, the summer holiday is overshadowed by the need to find affordable childcare during your work hours. The good news is that your opportunity to claim the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit doesn’t end at the last day of school.
  3. Does Your Vacation Home Provide Tax Relief? Oftentimes, successful business owners choose to acquire real estate, which serves as a tangible representation of their success. For many, the prospect of buying a second home is a desirable investment, not just because it’s useful, but because it can bring added tax benefits.
  4. Business Travel or Personal Vacation? So you decided to attend that business convention in California over the summer and are rounding up your expenses to turn in to your tax preparer. Oh, you decided to take the entire family along? Here’s a quick guide to help you determine what is a tax deduction and what is not.

Contact the tax team at Rea & Associates for even more tips to help you ease your tax burden all year long.

Share Button

Last Minute Tax Tips, Financial Stress and Cybercriminals …

Monday, May 2nd, 2016

April’s Top Posts Had Readers On Edge

So our month was pretty intense … how was yours? The good news is that we made it through another tax season, the bad news is that business owners are clearly still on high alert due to continuous influx of hacker activity. Take a look at our top five blog posts in April for some useful tips and insight you can use all year long.

Top 5 Blog Posts For Business Owners In April

  1. Can A Cybercriminal Crack Your Company’s Network? Small and midsize businesses are not immune to becoming the target of a crippling cyberattack and without the proper procedures in place business owners risk the very real threat of a large-scale assault on their company’s data. Would you be able to recover if your organization was attacked?
  2. How Flexible Is Your Company’s Management Style? Never before has the American business owner had to manage a workforce consisting of employees whose ages span five generations. And because each generation is unique, your company’s leadership team is left with the impossible task of adopting a management style to accommodate an incredibly diverse workforce. Keeping reading to learn more.
  3. What Tax Liabilities Accompany Inherited Real Estate? So you just inherited some real estate. You’re probably now wondering – is this a blessing or a curse? From the tax perspective, of course. And that’s a good question to ask. Just because you inherit something doesn’t mean that you’re free and clear of any potential tax liabilities. Depending on how you use the property and if you sell it will determine if you have a taxable situation. So here’s what you should know about taxes and inherited real estate. Read on to learn more.
  4. Increased Financial Stress Hurts Your Company’s Bottom Line Earlier this month, in a proclamation that reiterated the importance of equipping everybody with the “knowledge and protections necessary to secure a stable financial future for themselves and their families,” President Obama declared April to be National Financial Capability Month. While the timing of the proclamation makes this a great time to raise general awareness about the importance of financial fitness, businesses have a great opportunity to educate their employees about the importance of financial wellness all year long.
  5. How Can You Track Use Tax in QuickBooks? Now that you have filed for use tax amnesty and are all set up with an account, how are you going to track it daily going forward? If you use QuickBooks, the answer is as simple as 1-2-3.

April was great, but we are excited to see what May brings. More tips for business success? More financial news and updates? Personal finance advice? Of course! Stay tuned.

Don’t want to miss a post? Make sure you have subscribed to our blog so you don’t miss a single post.

Share Button

Celebrate Six Years’ Worth Of Business Tips With Drebit

Thursday, April 28th, 2016
Print

Today Drebit is turning six! Check out his top posts from over the years.

Drebit turns six today and we couldn’t be more excited. Over the years the Rea team has helped this intuitive frog provide readers with a wide variety of helpful business tips designed to help drive results in your organization as well as current business and financial news and we have certainly enjoyed the journey! This birthday isn’t about Drebit, it’s about you, our readers, for spending a few minutes with us each week or for checking in for answers that will help you confront a challenge facing your business. You are the reason Drebit continues today!

To celebrate, we are going to list Dear Drebit’s top six blog posts. Which one did you find to be the most useful? Let us know in the comment section!

Drebit’s Top 6 Blog Posts

  1. How Far Back Can The IRS Go For Tax Auditing? Taxes can be scary word and accountants are often asked, “How far back can the IRS audit tax returns?” Before you start to panic, rest assured that the IRS has a statute of limitations in place that generally puts a limit on the time allowed to audit you and assess additional tax. Keep reading to learn what those limitations are.
  2. How will selling a house from an estate impact my taxes? My mother passed away Oct. 30, 2009. She left my brother and me her house, which has just been released from probate court. We have someone wanting to buy it and we would split around $140,000. What kind of taxes do we face? Find out the answer in this blog post.
  3. Theft Safeguards To Cause Tax Return Delays In Ohio If time is money then the new security measures to protect Ohio taxpayer’s returns and prevent identity theft comes at a price. The Ohio Department of Taxation (ODT) said that in an effort to boost security and prevent tax-fraud in the state, Ohio will implement an “up-front filter to all tax-refund requests to analyze the demographic information reported on the return.”
  4. Do You Need to Send an Annual Notice to Your 401k Participants? If your company sponsors a calendar year 401k plan, don’t forget about participant notice requirements. They must be furnished by Dec.1, and may impact the operation or qualification of your plan. Here is a checklist that may be helpful, but check with us if you are not certain which of these requirements apply to your plan.
  5. What Happens if My 401(k) Plan is Out of Compliance with an IRS or DOL Rule? In this article we will explain the statute of limitations if your 401(k) plan is out of compliance with an IRS or DOL rule and how you can work to rectify any issues you may have with your business’s retirement plan.
  6. How Can You Track Use Tax in QuickBooks? Now that you have filed for use tax amnesty and are all set up with an account, how are you going to track it daily going forward? If you use QuickBooks, the answer is as simple as 1-2-3.

Is there a financial or business question you need the answer to? Let us know by contacting the Rea team today! We would love to answer it!

Share Button

Environmentally Friendly Tax Savings

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

For the last 46 years the global population has come together to channel “human energy toward environmental issues.” On April 22, 2016, the world will once again celebrate Earth Day. You can find a wealth of information on the official Earth Day website, including information about this year’s theme, Trees for the Earth. You can also find some great tips to help you become more energy efficient or help you spread the word about climate change and other topics.

Businesses Can Go Green And Save Green

For business owners, going green can result in significant tax savings as well, which can make environmental responsibility that much more desirable. Take a look at this slide show and find out how green certain eco-friendly initiatives can help strengthen your company’s bottom line.

Environmentally Friendly Tax Cuts For Business Owners from Rea & Associates

Do you want to start saving on your 2016 tax bill? Email Rea & Associates to find out how you can use environmentally friendly tax planning initiatives to ease the tax burden on your business.

By Brian Kempf, CPA (Millersburg office)

Are you looking for more tax tips? Check out these articles:

Go Green For The Planet And Pocket The Savings

Can Making Your Building Green Save On Taxes?

5 Tax Deductions To Ease Your Business’s Tax Burden

Share Button

16 Resolutions For Business Growth In 2016

Monday, January 4th, 2016
Be Accountable In 2016 | Rea & Associates | Ohio CPA Firm

Might we suggest 16 resolutions to help your company prosper in 2016?

New Year’s resolutions aren’t just great ways to set personal goals; they can help keep us on track professionally as well. This year, instead of worrying about which goal you are going to pick from the New Year’s Resolution menu, why not consider committing your energy and resources into ways that will improve the overall health of your business?

Might we suggest 16 resolutions to help your company prosper in 2016?

1. Celebrate your amazing team.

If you’ve been in business for a while, chances are you wouldn’t be where you are today without your team. Just remember that if you don’t work to retain your top performers, you run the risk of losing them. Start celebrating your human capital.

2. Make a gift, but make sure it’s effective.

When we give a monetary gift to a not-for-profit organization, we want to know that it’s going to be used in the best, most effective way possible. Make sure your money is well spent.

3. Design a better retirement plan.

The way your company’s retirement plan is designed can be a huge motivator for your employees. If your plan has a good plan design, participants will be more willing to invest in it. Work with a retirement plan expert to find a retirement plan design that works for you.

4. Review your will, estate plan and buy-sell agreement.

Legal changes over the last few years may have made updating these documents necessary, not to mention any personal changes that may have taken place. It’s just good practice to make sure this important paperwork gets updated regularly. It could get messy if you forget.

5. Develop a line item in your budget for continuing education.

Investing in yourself and your employees is a good way to engage your workforce. One way is to add dollars to the budget for training and continuing education. Find out what else you can do to promote employee retention.

6. Improve your company’s cash flow.

Easier said than done, right? Just remember that you can’t spend the bottom line profit, but you can use the cash flow to reinvest in your business and community. A sustainable cash flow model will ultimately increase the value of your business.

7. Know what your business is really worth.

Your business is easily your most valuable asset. So, how can you nurture its growth if you don’t know how much it’s worth? Discover why it’s so important to know the value of your business.

8. Develop a wellness program.

Healthcare costs are high and one way companies are taking control is by introducing a wellness program. As with any new plan, several factors will greatly increase your company’s success.  Start planning your wellness program implementation and soon you will be saving money.

9. Upgrades for the business.

It seems like there are always better ways to get things done. Perhaps 2016 is a good time to make a few upgrades. In the process, your purchase could be good for a deduction at tax time.

10. Schedule a family vacation.

A successful business has the understanding and support of your family. Long hours … late suppers … numerous emails and a 24/7 mentality have become just another part of the routine. Reward yourself and your family with a family vacation. A vacation isn’t just good for your peace of mind, it’s good for your business.

11. Save more for retirement.

It’s always a good idea to keep your retirement goals top-of-mind, which is why you should evaluate your current retirement plan situation and determine if you need to make any changes to get further ahead in 2016. Ask your advisor if you are setting aside as much as you could (and should) be.

12. Defend your cyber space.

Hackers and fraudsters are stopping at nothing to get to your data. Whether they have plans to steal your system’s information to sell to other criminals or are trying to make a quick buck by holding your data for ransom, if you don’t have a disaster recovery plan you and your business could be in serious trouble. Make 2016 the year you get your data security plan in place.

13. Meet with all your advisors at least once a year.

You work with a lot of people over the course of your career and it’s important to maintain those relationships – regardless of whether you will need their services or not. Set aside some time to meet with your accounting, legal, estate planning, investment, banking, retirement and other advisors, even if it’s just to chat. An impromptu meeting could reveal opportunities you didn’t know were there.

14. Establish a fraud hotline.

The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners has found fraud hotlines to be the most effective way for detecting and preventing fraud. Don’t let occupational fraud destroy your businesses.

15. Stay organized … for real, this time.

Every year it happens. You promised yourself that this year would be different. Now, once again, you are rushing to your gather receipts, remember how much money you spent at last year’s company retreat, and backtrack through balance sheets. Wouldn’t it be nice not to have this year-end stress anymore? By implementing a few simple procedures, you can avoid another crunch-time crisis.

16. Trim the fat.

If you are really looking for a way to make a significant reduction this year, take a look at your inventory. If you are carrying around some extra weight, chances are your business is feeling the pinch. This simple 3-step program will get you back on track.


Be Accountable In 2016

Have you identified a few resolutions to begin implementing over the course of 2016? Great! Need help holding yourself accountable? Send your list of 2016 New Year’s Resolutions to Rea & Associates and one of our business consultants will work with you to make this your best year in business yet!

Share Button