Financial planning organizations are too often the target of cyber criminals. The nature of these institutions presents an opportunity to these thieves to take action in the presence of security weaknesses. In effect, financial advisers have the duty to advise their clients on best practices to keep their data safe.
So what are the best practices to keep data in your financial planning software out of the hands of nefarious cyber criminals?
1. Password Protect
Protecting files in your financial planning software with iron-clad passwords gives your data an extra layer of protection. Passwords prompt user familiarity when accessing the file. And if a cyber criminal attempts to crack the code, they’re instantly thwarted. Password protect your entire client database to go the extra mile.
2. Cloud of Suspicion
Nothing beats common sense. Even if your organization deals with cold hard facts, going with your instinct can prevent a major breach. Daily monitoring of data in your financial planning software allows you to stay on top of any sudden change. Understanding client behavior helps as well. For example, if a customer typically calls or prefers to interact in person when dealing with their finances, stop and think if they suddenly begin to email or text. Cyber criminals only require one opportunity to strike, leaving financial planning organizations vulnerable when not keeping an eye out for suspicious behavior. Always have a fail-safe plan once old habits get questionably broken.
3. Risk Analysis
Regardless of your job description, it’s always a good idea to stay on top of the latest phishing and hacking techniques. Make an effort to educate your employees on new cyber threats. If your company is not large enough to hire a dedicated security specialist, assign or have someone volunteer to host monthly sessions informing employees about security concerns. Choose one day of the month to provide lunch catering, thereby, enticing employees to attend a company meeting during lunch. These meetings provide a tremendous ROI with minimal cost to your organization and reduce the likelihood of a financial planning software breach.
4. Limit the Amount of Information Collected
Even with the most state-of-the-art security systems and protocols, clients can’t help but worry about the safety of their financial identity. To mitigate this concern, limit the amount of personal client information collected to first and last name, age, state of residence, and email address. Stay away from collecting social security numbers, date of births, physical addresses, and employment information. Anything that will give away their identity is serious bait for cyber criminals.
5. Limit Access
If your financial planning software allows you to collaborate with multiple users, limit their functionality depending on the user. Sure, this feature allows other financial advisers, attorneys, or accountants to access the files remotely, but it also expands a cyber criminal’s reach.