New Brunswick city rebuilding its IT system after major cyber attack in November

Saint John, N.B., is rebuilding its computer network rather than submitting to criminals who launched a cyber attack against the city in November.

City manager John Collin updated council Monday on the city’s efforts to rebuild its IT system following a ransomware attack; he said no ransom was paid.

Hackers launch ransomware attacks by infecting computers with software and often demand money in exchange for the attack to end.

Collin said the city’s network was disconnected from the internet as soon as the Nov. 13 attack was discovered, and he said it’s not believed any personal identifying information such as banking details was stolen.

“I’m happy to report we have no indications whatsoever that there was any spread of the ransomware from any city-owned assets or systems to others,” he told council.

Collin wouldn’t say what parts of the network were affected by the attack or provide any information he said could help the “hostile actors.”

“We do not want to give to these criminals any information that could help refine their tactics and techniques, nor do we wish to provide such information to copycats,” he said.

Collin said, however, that the attack penetrated deeply into the city’s IT system, and therefore, he added, rebuilding the network was more cost effective than repairing the damage.

“Instead of repair, we have decided to build an entirely new network,” he told council. “Not only will this afford us the opportunity to take advantage of all the latest innovations in cybersecurity and in network design, it will also remove the risk of any virus remnant that could occur if we took the approach of a repaired system.”

The cost of the network rebuild, Collin said, will be covered by insurance and the city’s IT reserve fund. “We will not need to adjust up any yearly budget or alter our service delivery to our community because of this IT attack,” he said.

The rebuild of the IT system is expected to take a few more months. Collin said the full cost of the attack and the system rebuild is still being evaluated, adding that he’ll report to council when the total amount is known.

No one wins if current rules for financial professionals’ titles remain as is

The excerpted article was written by  The Globe and Mail

Recent efforts from the Ontario government to ensure that only financial professionals with appropriate credentials be able to call themselves “financial planners” or “financial advisors” are being met with resistance from financial services industry associations lobbying to maintain the status quo. If this self-serving push is victorious, it will only benefit the least-qualified providers of financial services and be another setback for professionalization and transparency in the investment industry.

Currently, financial professionals’ titles in any province other than Quebec are borderline meaningless due to lack of standardization and qualifications. These titles do nothing to inform consumers of financial services as to what the financial professional they deal with actually does. Worse yet, these titles give the person providing the service a level of credibility that may be completely unearned and unwarranted.

The provincial government in Ontario – home to the largest population of financial professionals in the country – aimed to rectify all of that when it passed the Financial Professionals Title Protection Act, 2019. (The legislation received Royal Assent in May 2019.) Since then, the Ontario government has entrusted the province’s newest financial services regulator, the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA), to oversee the implementation of the law. Public consultations on the draft regulations closed on Nov. 12.

The proposed regulations would limit the use of the title “financial planner” or “financial advisor” only to financial professionals who hold a qualifying credential. Ontario’s goal is to review the available credentials – such as the certified financial planner and the chartered investment manager – to determine which ones qualify for either title. This will be a substantial improvement from where things stand today, in which anyone can call themselves anything they want.

There are many positive submissions to the public consultations. For example, various investor groups and advocates have argued the proposed rules don’t go far enough because they don’t impose a fiduciary standard. Many have even provided constructive feedback on how the FSRA can make the most of this legislation.

In contrast, some industry associations’ submissions are nothing more than a self-interested preservation of the status quo. They say Ontario’s proposed rules set the bar too high because they would exclude some people who are using either title now from continuing to do so without achieving further designations or credentials.

For example, the proposed rules say that someone who has achieved a licence to sell life insurance products – and no further designations or training – would not qualify to use either the financial planner or financial advisor title. In response, the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association Inc. (CLHIA) and various insurance-centric organizations argue that the existing insurance sales training “meets or exceeds the baseline competency of someone who calls themselves a ‘financial advisor,’” and, as a result, no further qualifications should be required.

Similarly, the Investment Industry Association of Canada (IIAC) argued in its submission on the proposed rules that financial professionals who are regulated by either the Mutual Funds Dealers Association of Canada (MFDA) or the Investment Industry Regulatory Association of Canada (IIROC) should be exempt from any requirement to obtain further credentials or training before using the financial advisor title.

In both cases, the argument is that the existing qualifications are sufficient to merit the use of the financial advisor title and that requiring further training would pose an “undue regulatory burden” on financial professionals. The problem with this approach is that IIROC or MFDA licensing provides people the level of understanding required to sell a product. However, financial advice and financial planning are not focused narrowly on product sales. In fact, they may result in no product sales whatsoever.

Instead, financial planners or financial advisors synthesize information to make well-educated, informed recommendations. Product selection and sales are only a tiny fraction of financial planners’ or financial advisors’ process and are only made after information-gathering, analysis, and synthesis to ensure the right fit.

The FSRA has already singled out the course that qualifies someone to sell insurance in Ontario as falling short of the standard required for the financial planner title. The course leading to MFDA licensing similarly falls short of that standard. In fact, Jason Watt, a full-time instructor at the Business Career College, a financial services course provider that’s recognized nationally, says “the mutual fund licensing course represents a bar of proficiency no better, if not lower, than the standard set by the life insurance sales training course.”

If the submissions from the CHLIA, the IIAC and others pushing for the status quo are accepted, title reform in Ontario won’t amount to anything more than rubber-stamping the entire financial services industry as-is – turning this entire exercise into a perfect example of regulatory capture.

The winners of title regulation will be the least-educated and least-qualified members of the industry – and the companies that rely upon them for sales revenue. Everyone else – especially consumers of financial services, educated and credentialled financial planners and financial advisors, and the entire financial services industry in Ontario – will lose.

Millennials and members of Generation Z already distrust financial services institutions and are looking at digital alternatives like robo-advisors. Turning title reform into a farce is just one more reason for them to continue to shift away from traditional financial services providers altogether.

4 steps to pet-proof your holiday tree this season

4 steps to pet-proof your holiday tree this season

Trees decorated with bright lights and ornaments are key part of many holiday celebrations. It’s important to protect pets from any holiday hazards and make sure everyone enjoys this annual tradition. These four tips can help pet guardians keep their furry friends safe from any accidents involving the tree.

Consider an artificial tree

  • Real trees are considered to be mildly toxic to pets. The tree oils can irritate your pet’s mouth and stomach causing excessive drooling or vomiting.
  • If pets eat the tree needles they can puncture the animal’s gastrointestinal tract. Watch for signs such as excessive vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Tree needles can also get stuck in your pet’s paws. Make sure to vacuum up any loose needles on a regular basis.
  • Make sure your pet does not drink the tree water, which commonly contains chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides and preservatives that can make them sick. Use a covered tree water dish to protect your pet.
  • Remember to avoid artificial trees coated with flocking (imitation snow) or glitter, which is hazardous to pets

Secure the tree

  • Make sure your tree has a heavy and solid base to prevent it from being easily knocked over.
  • Secure the tree to the wall using a cord, rope or chain
  • Prevent access to the tree with a baby gate or exercise pen
  • Close the door to the room to keep pets away from the tree
  • Make cat repellent spray using citrus or essential oils and spray on the tree
  • Don’t put the tree near furniture or tables that cats can use as a launch pad to jump on the tree

Be mindful of decorations

  • Pets can chew on light cords and shock or burn themselves. Use a protective covering for light cords and unplug them when leaving the house or going to bed at night
  • Don’t use tinsel – cats will eat it and tinsel can obstruct their digestive system.
  • Don’t hang shiny ornaments low on the tree where cats will be tempted to play with them
  • Don’t decorate with ornaments made out of glass, porcelain or other breakable materials or put them higher up on the tree where pets are less likely to reach them
  • Use twist ties or plastic hooks to hang the ornaments instead of metal hooks
    Don’t decorate with candy canes, popcorn strings, wrapped chocolates or other treats – pets can eat these and become sick

Wait to put the gifts out

  • Wait until the big day to put gifts under the tree – dogs can smell chocolate or fruitcake through the wrapping paper, chew through and make themselves sick
  • Remember to cleanup soon after presents are unwrapped to make sure pets don’t eat ribbons, string or ties

Source: BC SPCA

Intact Insurance is Offering Solutions for Customers who are Working from Home

Enhanced protections to give customers peace of mind during uncertain times

TORONTODec. 3, 2020, Many trends have emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic; people are travelling less, working from home and spending more time online. Intact Financial Corporation (TSX: IFC) is offering enhanced protection to give customers working from home increased liability and home coverage, the option to add identity theft coverage and cyber protection, at a discount, as well as free access to mental health and well-being programs for a limited time.

“During a time where so many are working from home, customers are searching for added value and thinking about their well-being,” said Louis Gagnon, President, Canadian Operations, Intact Financial Corporation. “We want customers to have peace of mind and we are focused on supporting their changing needs”.

Intact Insurance’s enhanced protection provides customers with increased liability and home coverage for people working from home. Existing and new customers can also add identity theft coverage and cyber protection to their home policy with my Identity at a discount, and for a limited time, enjoy free access to online mental health and well-being programs through LifeSpeak.

Intact also understands that with more people working from home, driving habits and patterns are changing. Usage-based insurance programs give customers more control over their auto insurance premium. Intact Insurance’s my Drive™ offers customers personalized feedback and tips to help improve their safe driving and the opportunity to earn up to 25% off their auto insurance premium. Customers receive a 10% discount just for signing up.

Customers who want to learn more about these solutions can contact their broker.

While these solutions address immediate and emerging customer needs, Intact is continuing to develop other innovative and responsive measures to longer-term trends.

About Intact Financial Corporation

Intact Financial Corporation (TSX: IFC) is the largest provider of property and casualty (P&C) insurance in Canada and a leading provider of specialty insurance in North America, with over CAD$11 billion in total annual premiums. The Company has approximately 16,000 employees who serve more than five million personal, business and public sector clients through offices in Canada and the U.S.

In Canada, Intact distributes insurance under the Intact Insurance brand through a wide network of brokers, including its wholly-owned subsidiary BrokerLink, and directly to consumers through belairdirect. Frank Cowan Company, a leading MGA, distributes public entity insurance programs including risk and claims management services in Canada.

In the U.S., Intact Insurance Specialty Solutions provides a range of specialty insurance products and services through independent agencies, regional and national brokers, and wholesalers and managing general agencies. Products are underwritten by the insurance company subsidiaries of Intact Insurance Group USA, LLC.

SOURCE Intact Financial Corporation

www.intactfc.com

Reminder to all Manitoba License Holders

Reminder to all Manitoba License Holders

In March 2020, Manitoba’s Superintendent of Financial Institutions had approved that the requirement for mandatory Continuing Education (CE) reporting for the 2020 licence renewal was to be deferred to May 2021 for all licensed agents, and deferred to June 2021 for all licensed adjusters. This allowed Manitoba licence holders who were required to report CE credits to renew their licences for 2020 without having to complete or report mandatory CE for the 2020 year.

This is an early reminder that licence holders must complete the required number of CE credits for both the 2020 and 2021 years, and report all of these hours prior to licence renewal for 2021.

The Insurance Council of Manitoba (ICM) thanks industry for the positive feedback we received for the 2020 reporting deferral. We commend all stakeholders involved in the renewal process during May and June 2020.

For the 2021 Manitoba licence renewal, if you are required to complete and report CE in Manitoba, the following number of CE credits will be required to be completed and entered into your online portal before being able to renew your licence(s):

• General insurance agents: 16 CE credits completed and reported prior to May 31, 2021;
• Auto Only insurance agents: 8 CE credits completed and reported prior to May 31, 2021;
• Adjusters (N/A to Hail Adjusters): 16 CE credits completed and reported prior to June 30, 2021;
• Life and/or A&S agents: 30 CE credits completed and reported prior to May 31, 2021.

You will be unable to renew your licence(s) in 2021 if you do not complete and report the 2020 CE credit requirements in addition to the 2021 CE credit requirements.

However, as in each year, licence holders who are resident in another Canadian jurisdiction which has mandatory CE requirements are not required to also fulfil the Manitoba annual CE credit criteria.

For more detailed information on CE requirements in Manitoba, please refer to the Continuing Education Info page on the ICM website.

New Licensees as of June 1, 2020 (July 1, 2020 for adjusters) MUST ensure that their CE is accumulated in the 2020/2021 licence year. Refer to this page on the ICM website for additional information.

Examples of CE requirement scenarios for the 2021 year due to the 2020 deferral:

1. Example #1: If a general or adjuster licence holder currently has 4 credit hours applied/reported in the CE system on May 1, 2020, they would be required to obtain and report 12 additional CE credits to renew their licence in May 2021 (June 2021 for adjusters). Each year thereafter, they would be required to obtain the annual CE requirement of 8.

2. Example #2: If a life licence holder currently has 0 credit hours applied/reported in the CE system on May 1, 2020, they would be required to obtain and report 30 CE credits to renew their licence in May 2021. Each year thereafter, they would be required to obtain the annual CE requirement of 15 within their annual licence period (no carry forward).

3. Example #3: If a life licence holder currently has 19.5 credit hours applied/reported in the CE system on May 1, 2020, they would only be required to obtain and report an additional 10.5 CE credits to renew their licence in May 2021. Each year thereafter, they would be required to obtain the annual CE requirement of 15 within their annual licence period (no carry forward).

INSURANCE COUNCIL OF MANITOBA

Westland Insurance Celebrates 40th Anniversary by Supporting Canadian Charities

SURREY, British Columbia, Dec. 03, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Westland Insurance Group Ltd. (“Westland”) is pleased to announce that it is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2020. Westland is marking this significant milestone by supporting communities with its ‘40 Weeks of Giving’ campaign. Every week for the next 40 weeks, the company is supporting a cause in one of the many communities that it serves across Canada.

Westland Insurance was founded in 1980 with one branch in Ladner, BC. It now has over 150 locations in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario. Throughout the years, the family-owned company has remained committed to supporting local communities. Launched in November 2020, the ‘40 Weeks of Giving’ campaign sees the company supporting a different community organization each week for 40 weeks.

The company’s first ‘40 Weeks of Giving’ donation was made to the Burns Bog Conservation Society. Burns Bog, located near Ladner, BC, is one of Canada’s most fragile and precious ecosystems. Westland’s second donation was made to the Calgary Region of the Canadian Mental Health Association, whose mission is to increase resiliency and reduce the impact of mental illness and addiction in the community. For more information about the charities that Westland is supporting with this campaign, please visit: https://www.westlandinsurance.ca/bc/about-us/community

About Westland Insurance Group

Westland Insurance Group is one of the largest and fastest-growing independent property and casualty insurance brokers in Canada. With a national network of over 150 locations and over 1,600 employees, the company continues to expand coast to coast. Westland’s brokers provide expert advice to home, business, farm, life, and auto insurance clients. Since its founding in 1980, Westland has remained a family-owned company that is committed to supporting its local communities. For more information, please visit www.westlandinsurance.ca

www.westlandinsurance.ca

 

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