Valuable tips to protect you and your clients from cybercrimes.
Reports of serious data breaches and cyber-hacking incidents appear in the news so often that they sometimes fail to raise the level of alarm they once did. But this doesn’t mean that data theft and the incapacitation of entire infrastructure networks for ransom aren’t seriously disruptive and costly. In fact, cybercrimes are being deployed around the world with increasing sophistication, making it more difficult to protect any business or institution.
The information accessible through every online device – from laptops to smartphones – is vulnerable to cyberattacks by criminal elements hunting for confidential personal (and client) data. Banking, credit and investment accounts, social insurance numbers, passwords, birthdates, names and addresses can serve as gateways to damaging people’s lives and finances and demolishing the reputation of businesses that are tasked with protecting that information. In some instances, hackers focus on intercepting and redirecting legitimate electronic transactions, such as transfers of funds to investment vehicles, and devastate people’s accounts in the process.
Safeguarding client data should rank highest on the list of priorities for individual advisors. In addition to multifaceted security measures and programs that can help defend against hackers, these simple yet effective practices can protect devices and data from potential harm.
- Change all passwords frequently using a complex combination of letters, numbers and special characters (e.g., %#$&*). Complex passwords based on phrases are harder to guess but easy to remember. For example, “I exercise 100% every day of the week” may be translated to the complex password “Ix100%edotw.”
- Password managers are an efficient way to help you oversee, store and generate new passwords as needed. Check in with IT experts for recommendations on which apps are particularly reliable and safe.
- Configure your email settings to restrict forwarding messages to unknown accounts.
Social media accounts
- Keep your business and personal social media accounts separate.
- Don’t post your business email address on any public platforms or sites that aren’t directly related to your work.
- Maintain a different password for every site that requires one. Using a single password for multiple sites and platforms increases the risk of breach across multiple accounts.
Advisors can encourage their clients to recognize suspicious signs of fraud or attempts to gain access to their personal and financial information. Integrity and mutual trust are essential to the client-advisor relationship and should be emphasized with clients as a signal that they won’t encounter any form of fraud while working with you.
Data protection at a glance
Use the tips in this convenient infographic to help keep your digital data safe.