How Prepared Is Your Board for Cyberspace?

While cyber security is an important issue for boards, it has not always been top of mind. Because a major corporation like Equifax had a breach in its IT system, many companies are rethinking how to secure cyber security.

Boards around the world are examining the Equifax case to determine how to best secure their organizations valuable information stored in their IT systems. So who is responsible? Since the CEO has stepped down, it is apparent he was being held accountable. However, where was the board of directors?

In today’s world of cyberspace, corporate boards have to think about more than governance, CEO compensation and strategy.

As it stands, it is in the board’s best interest to ensure the company is not exposed to debilitating risks. Companies have workplace safety standards and sexual harassment policies to mitigate lawsuits. They even have disaster recovery plans in the event of natural disasters or occurrences like the World Trade Center plane crash. These plans and policies are in place to keep business running smoothly and perpetually. It protects customers and employees.

However, with sophisticated computer hackers around the world, it is no news that computer systems and valuable information can be breached and stolen. There are hackers who breach computer systems as a business. They ask for ransom in the amount of tens of millions of dollars. If it is not paid, they threaten to release the companies secure information, which sometimes could contain private email communication from top executives.

While many enterprises as large as Equifax may have disaster recovery plans for their physical operation, they may not have the same plan for cyber breach. The disaster recovery policies would include immediate action steps based on size of the breach, who made the breach, what information was taken, were company smart phones breached, what to communicate to employees, the public and shareholders as well as other important factors.

In some cases, it may make sense to inform the FBI. In other cases, it may be better to pay the ransom. The challenge with calling the FBI is that the hackers could be in countries like Russia. In Russia, the FBI may not pursue them. Why? Because the Russian government is always looking for good hackers. If the FBI exposes the hackers in Russia, the government may hire them, which can present long-term problems for the US. When it comes to paying ransom, it’s tricky. If you pay, they may hack you again as though you are an ATM machine. If you don’t pay, they may expose confidential information. These are also the kinds of challenges that directly involve the board.

What’s most important is that the board is talking about cyber security before there is a problem. There should be constant audits of the cyber security system to mitigate any risks. In addition, as a board, they should hold the CEO accountable for that security. Furthermore, there should be clear policies to guide the board and the executive team on how to handle the various moving parts in a delicate situation. Boards with disaster recovery plans and high accountability with the CEO are more likely to be forward thinking about cyber vulnerabilities and proactive about updating the security system.

Using A Broker For Your Business Mobiles: What Are The Key Benefits?

It is the question on the minds of procurement managers and business owners nationwide and one that could significantly impact the productivity of a business, “is it better for me to go direct to a major network for a business phone contract or use a broker?”

Often businesses operate under the misconception that going to a network directly will garner them the most cost-effective prices and ultimately the most ‘secure’ deal due to the fact that they are dealing with a big name in the telecommunications industry. But is this always this case? Below we explore some of the benefits that a business mobile broker could bring to your business.

Why should businesses use a mobile phone broker?

Contract range
With extensive marketing budgets and overall market share it may appear that a network will have anything and everything your business needs from a mobile contract, but the packages that networks offer to businesses tend to be rather rigid in their offering and therefore a business may end up with a deal that is not necessarily the best package for the requirements of each individual. The end result of this is multiple contracts with multiple networks that not only leads to an administrative nightmare but also increases costs exponentially.

Moreover, a business may not even fully understand the intricacies of their requirements, with which the business is able to run efficiently. Where a broker can assist is in the negotiation of these contracts due to the strong connections they have with these large networks, developed over many years of working alongside each other and due to the sheer volume of potential custom they can bring. This ultimately leads to the brokers effectively negotiating the ideal contracts to suit a business model.

Their effective negotiation skills and their ability to identify the most suitable packages for a business is precisely the reason why a broker is a much more cost-effective solution. Many perceive that a broker’s cost is simply added on top of an already established cost structure, however, the buying power that a broker will bring to the table is second to none and therefore effective negotiation is part and parcel of their role. Furthermore, as brokers aren’t supplementing substantial marketing budgets or operating their services with a specific profit target to maintain their share price, they are able to offer these cost-effective solutions without adding an astronomical fee on top.

Account management
Now a business has a contract in place, what happens when something goes wrong, they have a query or they simply need some support with a mobile device? For those dealing directly with large networks this usually means waiting on hold for an inordinate amount of time and subsequently being passed from pillar to post until you reach the right person. The fact of the matter is that large networks are simply inundated with these type of queries, and more often than not your first contact will not have adequate training to provide you with the support needed and don’t know one business from the next.

Mobile brokers will have a strong team behind them, with decades if not centuries of expertise between them in the mobile communications industry. These teams will know a business, know their requirements and will ultimately be able to regularly assess that their current mobile contract meets the ever-changing needs of a business. This investment in high quality customer service is one of the major factors that entices businesses to use a broker each and every time they require a mobile contract.

As we have demonstrated, the use of a mobile phone broker can be an invaluable asset to any business looking for the right mobile solution. Whilst deciding to go with a broker is a fantastic first step, choosing a poor broker is on a par with a poor network, therefore choosing that ideal broker for your business is essential; check their reviews, their finances, ask for referrals, anything so that you feel confident that they will provide your business with the best service.

Palm Oil Plantation Business in Indonesia: How to Get Started

Palm Oil Plantations are a very lucrative agricultural business for agriculture entrepreneurs and companies to invest in. The potential in this business makes palm oil one of the largest revenue streams in Indonesia. After the President of Indonesia Mr. Joko Widodo (Jokowi) imposed a moratorium on the land available for plantations, the value of palm oil plantations has increased dramatically.

The process of acquisition or take over of plantations, especially oil palm plantations, is not as easy as imagined. There are a number of important factors that are key to success in the take-over of oil palm plantations that must be followed and implemented based on the principle of gentlement-agreement by each party.

Considering that transactions in the property sector, especially the take-over of oil palm plantations, contain very high capital business and involve many parties as mediators, the government in this case the Minister of Trade of the Republic of Indonesia feels the need to make rules to safeguard the rights and obligations of the parties involved through the Minister of Trade Regulation of the Republic of Indonesia no. 33 / M-DAG / PER / 8/2008 concerning Brokerage Company of Property Trade.

However, even though there are regulations governing trade transactions, it is not uncommon for a transaction to be too convoluted and less cooperative between mediators, so that the take-over process actually becomes unsuccessful or completely void.

The following are steps to acquire a palm oil plantation in Indonesia

First, contact a trusted brokerage firm and ask if they have palm oil plantations to sell. Do not contact individual brokers as they may not have the complete detail on specific plantations, and generally they are not clear with the actual relation to the available plantation. Such cases often occur in Indonesia and you should make sure that the plantations have no legal issues.

Second, ask the brokerage firm to do the due diligence so that you avoid future legal issues in Indonesia. A trusted brokerage firm must have qualified survey tools such as drone mapping and a reliable agronomist / business analyst team. Thus, there is a match between the plantation legal documentation and the actual physical plantation.

Third, make sure the selling price of the plantation is fair. Almost all individual brokers markup the original price up to 30%. You should be careful in doing business with these types of individual brokers because of this type of lack of transparency. In this case you need to appoint a trusted agent to represent you in the take-over process. A typical commission fee of 1-3% should be expected from the plantation selling side.

Visual Arts-As Old as Civilization

For as long as man has been alive, he has observed the aesthetics and beauty of life. It seems that it is innate in us to create and change and this has been demonstrated throughout the ages. Even the cave man recreated his vision and told a story via stonewalls.

All art is a communication! The artist is creating his/her vision via any artistic outlet such as drawing, painting, sculptures, photography, graphic design or filmmaking etc.

It’s any art we see! The natural landscape is a powerful tool artists have used throughout time. We seem to want to recreate what we are looking at and at the same time change it to put our own nuances and character into it.

Art is not limited to drawing, painting, sculptures etc. There are the living visual arts such as the painstaking shaping of the Bonsai tree or creating the next beautiful hybrid rose. We started with the incredibly gorgeous vintage rose and now we literally have hundreds of different kinds of roses in various sizes, colors and fragrance.

Dancing, figure skating, gymnastics, ballet, and even acting are also considered visual art forms.

You are basically taking something that has been done before, or a piece of life, and are making it new by changing or adding your own character to the piece. That’s all imagination is!

Just in the 20th century alone we have created new forms of art such as art nouveau, pop art, ethnic art to name a few. The subject of art is so vast that there is literally no ceiling to creativity and that is what makes this subject so incredibly interesting.

Steinbeck Hitchcock and Yes, Lifeboat

What on earth do Steinbeck and Hitchcock have in common? Well, nothing except that they made a film together called Lifeboat. They did not even share any common interests in terms of their work. John Steinbeck created novels such as Grapes of Wrath which is still considered as a literary masterpiece even by modern critics. The novel was highly controversial at the time it was first published in 1939 due to the anti-capitalist sentiments. But it also won the Pulitzer Prize. This and his work later were instrumental in getting John Steinbeck his maiden Nobel Prize for literature. Steinbeck also wrote some comedies such as Cannery Row and Tortilla Flat but thrillers, not any that I know of.

Alfred Hitchcock lived thrillers and absolutely thrillers. However, he did take some diversions into other genres such as comedies in Mr. and Mrs. Smith and also some nonfiction films just before the Second World War. After the war, he mostly stuck to what he knew best and that was making thriller movies. I don’t know what Steinbeck was thinking about while writing Lifeboat. Was he intentionally making a thriller or just an interracial film with a hypothetical situation about people from various communities of German and allied forces getting together and having to do battle together? I think it’s later and that’s where Steinbeck came into the picture.

Originally the screenplay of Lifeboat was credited to John Steinbeck. But after the film was released Steinbeck requested his name to be removed from the credits because he felt the film had unkind words against organized labor. However, the British and American press at the time thought the film glorified German characters and denigrating the US and British characters. Modern critics see things differently though. Hitchcock defended his characterization because he respected his movie villains. Characterization of a villain has been the hallmark of Hitchcock films over the years. The moral of the story in his opinion was to get the allies together to fight against Nazis.

Lifeboat was nominated for 3 Oscars but received none and it was not commercially very successful either due to the negative publicity and controversies surrounding the film. It was Hitchcock who came up with the idea for the film and considered several top writers at the time for the project including Ernest Hemingway and A J Cronin. Hitchcock didn’t use music in the film as he thought it was imprudent to do so. Where would music come from in the sea? He retorted when asked about it. He was countered with where would the cameras come from in the middle of the sea?

I am a diehard Hitch fan and have seen all his best work and more. I never felt him being racist or unkind to any community unless it is for the characterization. The very fact that he chose Steinbeck for this project confirms this fact for me. But it is a strange combination all the same. After so many years of Hitchcock, it is difficult to associate him with a writer who is not at all a thriller writer. It is a lonesome but great alliance all the same.