As an advisor, you know from first-hand experience that the banks, brokerage firms and
mutual fund companies holding your
clients’ wealth place an extraordinary
emphasis on cybersecurity. And well
they should, considering that more
than 86% of affluent Americans are
very or somewhat concerned about
cyber breaches — with the top concern
being a breach involving their financial
accounts, according to the 2018 Chubb
Personal Risk Services Cyber Survey.
But far more common than a cyber-criminal breaking into the extremely
secure system of a financial institution
is the likelihood of a breach occurring
through a home WiFi network or personal computer, or through “smart” devices
such as internet-connected thermostats,
appliances and even toys. Sometimes,
even an advisor’s remote use of a work
laptop can open the door to problems.
The 2018 Chubb Personal Risk
Services Cyber Survey found many critical areas of cyber vulnerability go unrecognized, and that most of us aren’t taking
even the most basic precautionary steps
to prevent breaches. And few — only
about 7% of those we surveyed — have a
cyber insurance policy.
Based on our research, here are some
important ways advisors can protect
themselves, their firms and their clients
Be alert to ransomware.
Ransomware is an attack on a computer
or network that locks up or encrypts
data, holding it hostage until the attack-
er/extortionist is paid a “ransom.”
Experts agree that prevention is the
best protection because attackers rarely
return the information they have stolen.
Even if you or your clients use a password for a home WiFi network (as did
59% of those Chubb surveyed), don’t
use the original password provided by
the internet service provider (as 20%
did) and update WiFi password regularly (only 15% of those surveyed did
that). Cracking a home WiFi network is
an easy way for cybercriminals to gain
access to personal data, as is stealing a
laptop or tablet — which happens every
53 seconds, according to IT information
provider ChannelPro Network. Advisors
whose laptops or tablets are stolen provide cybercriminals with potential entrée
to a host of firm, advisor and client data.
The best way to prevent the takeover of
information on a network or a computer,
experts say, is to back up data regularly;
make sure antivirus and anti-malware
software are installed and active; and
update systems regularly. Sending reminders to clients to perform these tasks as part
of regular emails or texts makes for a welcome and much-appreciated touch point.
Watch out for phishing scams.
An astounding 90% of all cyberattacks
start from phishing emails, according
to Sonic Wall, an internet security com-
pany. To defend against such scams, do
not click on an email or a link within an
email if the message seems urgent for no
reason, if it’s coming from an unknown
sender, or — if seemingly from a well-
known company — is somehow out of
the ordinary, sloppy or poorly worded,
which means it’s probably a scam.
Beware of smart devices. Security
firm Symantec reports that attacks
through increasingly popular “Internet
of Things” devices such as home thermostats, security systems and even dolls
rose 600% in 2017. For example, whoever thought using a remote garage door
opener could lead to identity theft?
To prevent access through these
devices, security experts advise turning
off internet-connected toys when not in
use, never discussing anything private
in front of home voice-activated smart
speakers or any other internet-connected device, and changing passwords and
updating software regularly.
Advisors, who already follow strict
cybersecurity protocols at work,
should not neglect security when
working remotely or when using home
computers and networks. What’s more,
as clients are equally concerned about
cyber fraud, advisors can help them
by sharing information about cybersecurity, as well as sending reminders
about steps they can take to protect
themselves. It’s a value-added service
they will truly appreciate.
Fran O’Brien is Division President, North
America Personal Risk Services, Chubb.
WEALTH & RISK
By Fran O’Brien
How to Protect Your Clients and Yourself
Most people are worried about cybersecurity, and advisors can help make
sure their money is safe.