Being prepared for cybersecurity challenges

September 12, 2016 by Derek Semenas

About the author:

Derek Semenas

Business development representative

Derek began his career at Advicent as a mid-market business development representative after returning from playing professional basketball overseas in Denmark. Derek is passionate about being competitive and developing his career in the financial industry.

With the increasing boom of technology in today’s world comes the risk of cybersecurity and the challenges at keeping your sensitive information protected. I learned this lesson first hand two months ago and it was just as frustrating as you think.

A tale of failed cybersecurity

I logged into my mobile banking application one morning to check on my transactions and stay up-to-date with my outgoing bills and my incoming income, but this morning I noticed something odd.

When scrolling through my bill history I noticed six odd transactions for the same $250 over the past two days at various locations within a three-hour radius. After calling the bank and informing them that I did not perform these transactions, they took a look into it and found out that my debit card had been hacked online.

This individual managed to get my account information, made a duplicate debit card, and went to six different Walmart locations and purchased six $250 gift cards. I then had to go into the bank the next day to fill out a report and wait for six to eight weeks for my account to be refunded. I soon found out that in the past week this bank had five other customers who experienced the exact same situation.

Needless to say it was a hassle and a feeling that I will never forget. It is unnerving to find out how easily people can access sensitive information in today’s increasing technology heavy world. This experience demonstrated to me the hassle it could create for an advisor who is managing millions of dollars for clients. These advisors have the same duty as a bank to ensure their cybersecurity measures are able to keep their clients sensitive information safe and out of the hands of hackers.

Scammers are not leaving any time soon

When it comes to cybersecurity, breaches and hackers are unfortunately the new norm. Therefore, you as a business owner must take the responsibility to keep your clients’ information and identities safe as you manage their wealth.

With that being said safeguarding the vast landscape of security takes commitment, understanding the risk exposure, and investment of time and resources. So where do you start in addressing this vital issue?

In a recent article regarding the 2016 FINRA Cybersecurity Conference, one theme was abundantly clear.  According to the article, “we are all in this together and have a common goal: to protect consumers from the constant onslaught of scams and the bad actors that perpetuate them.”

At the conference, numerous presenters highlighted the multiple scams that financial professionals are seeing and scams advisors may see down the road. The presenters touched on a few best practices and ways to spearhead the attacks by implementing a cyber-risk program, as well as using the resources that are publicly available.

Another key topic presented at the conference was information sharing, which is becoming a necessary lifeline that helps enable advisors to proactively protect their most important assets. The same scams are being launched against us all, but it would be easier to handle if you knew about the risk beforehand and knew the way to go about preventing it from happening.

One research that should be your biggest crutch in preventing such attacks is the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center which financial institutions, broker-dealers, and regulators can use to share intelligence about threats and the scammers associated with them.

Selecting technology while considering cybersecurity

As the technology world keeps advancing in cybersecurity, the issue is only going to increase and advisors must recognize the risks whether the firm is large or small. Firms should assign someone to focus heavily on cybersecurity in the technology and workflows in the organization.

Advisors should be prepared for this issue because it could happen to any client at any firm at any time.  Cybersecurity is a huge issue and is exceptionally threatening to the financial services industry.

With all that being said, I believe security is one of the most overlooked features when selecting a software for the firm. By utilizing proven secure software, firms will easily increase the credibility of the practice and put clients at ease when handing over sensitive personal information. If that is not enough, it will also assist in promoting a strong client-advisor relationship, which helps advisors capture those hidden assets sooner.

Advicent holds the internationally-recognized standard of excellence for information security, the ISO/IEC 27001:2013 Code of Practice for Information Security Management Systems (ISMS). Our products are backed by powerful physical security at a state-of-the-art, SSAE 16, Type 2-certified data center with multiple points of technical defense to protect and secure your client data. We have also implemented an Incident Response Policy and maintain detailed disaster recover recovery plans.

At Advicent, we take cybersecurity very seriously because we recognize its importance to advisors and their clients. Not only do we want to create tools to meet each advisor’s needs including comprehensive planning, lead generation, client-facing collaborative technology, and marketing communications, but Advicent also strives to create the most secure technology for our partners.