Safety Tips for Exercising Outdoors and Brain Health

Woman exercising outdoors

As we move into summer, many will want to exercise outdoors to stay active and get some fresh air. That’s great news, as health experts recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week. Also, moving your exercising outdoors can boost your mood and improve your concentration.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that walking is the most popular type of exercise

Trails, exercise parks, sports fields and stairs provide endless opportunities to switch up your workout. However, working out in hot and humid weather can put extra stress on your body, so consider the following tips to safely exercise outdoors:

  • Avoid the hottest part of the day. If possible, plan your workout before 10 a.m. or after 3 p.m. to dodge strong sun rays.
  • Wear light-colored clothing. Dark colors absorb the heat, while light colors reflect the sun. Lightweight, loose-fitting clothing will help air circulate and keep you cool.
  • Apply sunscreen. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that’s at least 30 SPF. Reapply every two hours, even if the label says it’s sweatproof. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat can also protect your face from the sun.
  • Stay hydrated with water. Drink water before you head out and try to take sips every 15 minutes during your workout—whether you’re thirsty or not.
  • Replenish your electrolytes. Instead of reaching for a sports drink after a workout, consider replacing your electrolytes with foods like chia seeds, kale, coconut, or fruits and vegetables.
  • Listen to your body. If you’re feeling dizzy, faint or nauseous, stop exercising immediately. Sit in the shade and drink water until you’re feeling better.

How Nutrition Impact the Brain

Nutrition plays a critical role in brain function, as the brain is one of the most metabolically active organs in the body. The brain requires a constant supply of nutrients to maintain its structural and functional integrity, and a deficiency in any of these nutrients can significantly impact brain health.

Certain nutrients have been shown to have a positive impact on brain function. For example, omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish (e.g., salmon and tuna), nuts and seeds have been shown to improve cognitive function, memory and mood. The B vitamins in leafy greens, legumes and whole grains are important for producing neurotransmitters that regulate mood and behavior. Antioxidants, which are found in colorful fruits and vegetables, protect the brain from oxidative stress and inflammation. Overall, a well-balanced diet rich in nutrients and low in processed foods and sugar is essential for optimal brain health and function.

Talk to your doctor if you have questions about brain health.

Cybercriminals and Artificial Intelligence

Cybercrime Hand holding Artificial intelligence sign

The past few years have seen artificial intelligence (AI) surge in popularity among both businesses and individuals. Such technology encompasses machines, computer systems and other devices that can simulate human intelligence processes. In other words, this technology can perform a variety of cognitive functions typically associated with the human mind, such as observing, learning, reasoning, interacting with its surroundings, problem-solving and engaging in creative activities.
Applications of AI technology are widespread, but some of the most common include computer vision solutions (e.g., drones), natural language processing systems (e.g., chatbots), and predictive and prescriptive analytics engines (e.g., mobile applications). While this technology can certainly offer benefits in the realm of cybersecurity—streamlining threat detection capabilities, analyzing vast amounts of data and automating incident response protocols—it also has the potential to be weaponized by cybercriminals. In particular, cybercriminals have begun leveraging AI technology to seek out their targets more easily, launch attacks at greater speeds and in larger volumes, and wreak further havoc amid these attacks.

As such, it’s crucial for businesses to understand the cyber risks associated with this technology and implement strategies to minimize these concerns. This article outlines ways cybercriminals can utilize AI technology and provides best practices to help businesses safeguard themselves against such weaponization.

Ways Cybercriminals Can Leverage AI Technology

AI technology can help cybercriminals conduct a range of damaging activities, including the following:

  • Creating and distributing malware—In the past, only the most sophisticated cybercriminals were capable of writing harmful code and deploying malware attacks. However, AI chatbots are now able to generate illicit code in a matter of seconds, permitting cybercriminals with varying levels of technical expertise to launch malware attacks with ease. Although current AI technology writes more basic (and often bug-ridden) code, its capabilities will likely continue to advance over time, thus posing more substantial cyberthreats. In addition to writing harmful code, some AI tools can also generate deceptive YouTube videos claiming to be tutorials on how to download certain versions of popular software (e.g., Adobe and Autodesk products) and distribute malware to targets’ devices when they view this content. Cybercriminals may create their own YouTube accounts to disperse these malicious videos or hack into other popular accounts to post such content. To convince targets of these videos’ authenticity, cybercriminals may further utilize AI technology to add fake likes and comments.
  • Cracking credentials—Many cybercriminals rely on brute-force techniques to reveal targets’ passwords and steal their credentials to then utilize their accounts for fraudulent purposes. Yet, these techniques may vary in effectiveness and efficiency. By leveraging AI technology, cybercriminals can bolster their password-cracking success rates, uncovering targets’ credentials at record speeds. In fact, a recent cybersecurity report found that some AI tools are capable of cracking more than half (51%) of common passwords in under a minute and over two-thirds (71%) of such credentials in less than a day.
  • Deploying social engineering scams—Social engineering consists of cybercriminals using fraudulent forms of communication (e.g., emails, texts and phone calls) to trick targets into unknowingly sharing sensitive information or downloading harmful software. It repeatedly reigns as one of the most prevalent cyberattack methods. Unfortunately, AI technology could cause these scams to become increasingly common by giving cybercriminals the ability to formulate persuasive phishing messages with minimal effort. It could also clean up grammar and spelling errors in human-produced copy to make it appear more convincing. According to the latest research from international cybersecurity company Darktrace, social engineering scams involving sophisticated linguistic techniques have already risen by 135%, suggesting an increase in AI-generated communications.
  • Identifying digital vulnerabilities—When hacking into targets’ networks or systems, cybercriminals usually look for software vulnerabilities they can exploit, such as unpatched code or outdated security programs. While various tools can help identify these vulnerabilities, AI technology could permit cybercriminals to detect a wider range of software flaws, therefore providing additional avenues and entry points for launching attacks.
  • Reviewing stolen data—Upon stealing sensitive information and confidential records from targets, cybercriminals generally have to sift through this data to determine their next steps—whether it’s selling this information on the dark web, posting it publicly or demanding a ransom payment in exchange for restoration. This can be a tedious process, especially with larger databases. With AI technology, cybercriminals can analyze this data much faster, allowing them to make quick decisions and speed up the total time it takes to execute their attacks. In turn, targets will have less time to identify and defend against such attacks.

Tips to Protect Against Weaponized AI Technology

Businesses should consider the following measures to mitigate their risk of experiencing cyberattacks and related losses from weaponized AI technology:

  • Uphold proper cyber hygiene. Such hygiene refers to habitual practices that promote the safe handling of critical workplace information and connected devices. These practices can help keep networks and data protected from various AI-driven cyberthreats. Here are some key components of cyber hygiene for businesses to keep in mind:
    • Requiring employees to use strong passwords (those containing at least 12 characters and a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols and numbers) and leverage multifactor authentication across workplace accounts
    • Backing up essential business data in a separate and secure location (e.g., an external hard drive or the cloud) on a regular basis
    • Equipping workplace networks and systems with firewalls, antivirus programs and other security software
    • Providing employees with routine cybersecurity training to educate them on the latest digital exposures, attack prevention measures and response protocols
  • Engage in network monitoring. This form of monitoring pertains to businesses utilizing automated threat detection technology to continuously scan their digital ecosystems for possible weaknesses or suspicious activities. Such technology typically sends alerts when security issues arise, allowing businesses to detect and respond to incidents as quickly as possible. Since time is of the essence when it comes to handling AI-related threats, network monitoring is a vital practice.
  • Have a plan. Creating cyber incident response plans can help businesses ensure they have necessary protocols in place when cyberattacks occur, thus keeping related damages at a minimum. These plans should be well-documented and practiced regularly and should address multiple cyberattack scenarios (including those stemming from AI technology).
  • Purchase coverage. Lastly, it’s imperative for businesses to secure adequate insurance and financially safeguard themselves from losses that may arise from the weaponization of AI technology. It’s best for businesses to consult trusted insurance professionals to discuss specific coverage needs.


Looking forward, AI technology is likely to contribute to rising cyberattack frequency and severity. By staying informed on the latest AI-related developments and taking steps to protect against its weaponization, businesses can maintain secure operations and minimize associated cyberthreats. Contact us today for more risk management guidance.

This Cyber Risks & Liabilities document is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice. © 2023 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

Lightning Storm Safety

It is important to know what to do when a lightning storm is in your area, they are incredibly dangerous, with the potential to cause serious harm to you or your family. In fact, getting struck by lightning could cause severe burns, brain damage or even cardiac arrest. That’s why it’s crucial to be prepared and respond appropriately if a storm approaches your area. Here are some steps from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that you can take to protect yourself and your family when lightning strikes.

If you’re at home during a lightning storm

  • Make sure all windows and doors are shut.
  • Try to avoid using any plumbing features in your home (e.g., sinks or baths).
  • Don’t use any electrical equipment that plugs directly into the wall (e.g., a corded phone, computer or television).
  • Avoid resting on concrete floors or walls.

If you’re outside during a lightning storm

  • Get as close to the ground as possible without placing your hands or knees on the ground—never lay completely flat on the ground.
  • Avoid seeking shelter underneath trees.
  • Stay away from elevated areas—such as hills, cliffs or mountain ridges.
  • Get as far away from bodies of water or objects that could conduct electricity (e.g., wire fences or power lines) as possible.
  • If you are swimming, boating or fishing, seek shelter on land immediately.

If Someone Gets Struck

If someone you know is struck by lightning, contact 911 immediately. If you have the proper medical training, administer CPR to victims who do not have a pulse and treat conscious victims for burns, fractures and other wounds while you wait for help to arrive.

For more additional home safety guidance and homeowners insurance solutions, contact us today.

5 Potential Retirement Obstacles

Whether you’ve been working hard for 30 years or are just three months into your first job, it’s always wise to plan ahead for retirement. After all, one day you will close the chapter on your career and start the next adventure. But what you get out of tomorrow depends on what you put into it today — and how you handle any bumps along the way.
So, while you’re keeping one eye on that retirement prize, make sure to keep the other on the lookout for pitfalls, like:

  1. Short-sighted savings
  2. Career interruptions
  3. Illness or injury
  4. Debt
  5. Unexpected life demands

Here’s a look at how to possibly prepare for these situations.

  1. Short-Sighted Savings -This is where proper planning plays a big part. Savings take time to grow, so you may wish to consider saving and investing early to take advantage of compound interest and long-term stock gains if the U.S. stock markets continue their historical upward trend.1 Also be sure to consider multiple avenues for your savings dollar, including:
    • 401(k) ― Employer-sponsored 401(k) plans can often be a good way to invest in your future. Many employer-sponsored plans also offer a matching contribution feature. 401(k) plans typically enable you to make contributions out of your paycheck on a pre-tax basis, so you can defer taxation on your income while growing your retirement savings on a tax-deferred basis.
    • Individual Retirement Account (IRA) ― Many smaller employers offer an IRA option, or you can open your own IRA.
    • Personal Savings ― Many banks offer automatic withdrawals from a direct deposit paycheck into a savings account. Interest rates are a lot higher now than they have been in recent years.

So how much money do you need to save for retirement? Well, the answer is different for everyone. Individual risk tolerance goes a long way in determining how — and how much — to save. Talk to a financial professional to develop a savings strategy tailored for you and your specific circumstances.

2. Career Interruptions

In today’s economy, you can never be sure of your job stability — or of your ability to quickly find a new job. That’s why many believe it’s critical to maintain an emergency fund to cover 6-12 months of living expenses like rent or mortgage and groceries.

If you withdraw money from your retirement savings, especially a qualified retirement plan, you may incur tax penalties on the withdrawals (depending on your circumstances) while also cutting into the account’s value over time.

3. Unforeseen Illness or Injury

According to the Social Security Administration, about one in four 20 year-olds working today will become disabled before they retire. It’s a startling statistic with serious consequences. If you get sick or hurt and have to go on long-term disability, your employer may have the right to terminate your position — and with it, your ability to continue contributing to your 401(k). This can potentially have a considerable impact on your retirement savings.

Many people who become too sick or hurt to work are forced to tap into their retirement savings to meet the expenses of everyday life. A disability income insurance policy not only helps replace a portion of your income when a disability occurs, but it can also be designed to help you continue saving for retirement.

4. Debt

From credit cards to home loans to paying off college education, debt has the potential to derail your retirement plans. When not properly managed, it may lead to low credit scores, depletion of your retirement savings, or even bankruptcy. Unmanaged debt may also make achieving your foundation of retirement planning more difficult and potentially more expensive. The key is to pay down debt while properly balancing it with your other financial priorities.

5. Life Events

You can save early and save often for retirement, but something may happen that puts that savings at risk. Maybe your daughter’s college scholarship falls through. Or your home value unexpectedly declines when you are ready to sell. At that point, you can either toss up your hands and say “That’s life!” (and it certainly is), or you can be thankful you prepared for this obstacle.

Consider planning for the unexpected with a life insurance policy that builds cash value. Of course, one of the most important parts of life insurance is the death benefit, which protects your loved ones by providing a financial benefit when you die. But, instead of digging into your retirement savings to pay for unforeseen expenses, you may be able to access the cash value in the life insurance policy to cover some of these costs.3 Or, later in life you may use your cash value to supplement a shortfall in your retirement income.

Taking the steps ahead of time to prepare for potential and real obstacles can help you enjoy life’s next adventure — retirement.