How are my assets protected from cyber attack?
If I asked you the question: How have computers, mobile devices, and the Internet benefited you in your life, you probably would have no trouble answering. These tools have become such a part of everything we do, that we often take them all for granted. The fact is – technology has completely upended how we view the world, how we share information, how we do business, and how we communicate.
There is, however, an undesirable side to the technology revolution that seems to reveal its depths daily. The alter ego to the Internet’s free-flow of information is the creature called “cybercrime.” And as long as we are wired together, the network we all enjoy will include the criminal element from around the globe.
Case in point, the Internal Revenue Service announced on March 26, 2015, that a Russian crime syndicate fraudulently filed more than 100,000 tax returns after obtaining personal information (including social security numbers) from other sources. With the stolen personal information, these cyber-crooks filed false tax returns, requesting more than $50 million of refunds be sent to bogus bank accounts. While the IRS will pay for credit report monitoring for the victims, there’s a whole lot of explaining to do to Congress and to the American taxpayers. How did this happen?
At SJS, we know that cybercrime is becoming more prevalent, and we recognize that no business is immune. We are aware that client accounts may be targeted, and email fraud can be a real threat.
Cybercrime is Common
According to a Securities and Exchange Commission report from February of 2015, 74% of Registered Investment Advisors like us reported they have experienced cyber-attacks, primarily involving malware and fraudulent emails. Our core value of “Continuous Improvement” comes into play as we work vigilantly to keep up with an ever-changing landscape.
Our custodians, including Schwab Institutional and TD Ameritrade, are deeply committed to safeguarding client assets. Both custodial web sites use advanced encryption technology, including 128-bit Secure Sockets Layer (SSL3) encryption. This allows us and you to communicate and share information more safely with them. Both custodians also maintain advanced firewalls, which separate public web servers from the servers that contain account holders’ personal data, to keep unauthorized parties from accessing your personal information. Additional measures, including security certificates, token technology, anomaly detection, and restricting access to client information further help to protect the privacy of your information.
There are several other steps you can take to help protect your personal, private information:
- Make sure that SJS has updated contact information for you, especially email and telephone numbers – including an emergency contact, if you so desire.
- Update your computer’s operating system and browser.
- Activate your computer’s firewall.
- Install antivirus and anti-spyware software.
- Be cautious using public computers.
- Use wireless networks you trust.
- Don’t use sensitive information in your log-in ID or password, and especially avoid using your social security number and date of birth.
- Create a unique password and change it at least every six months, and DON’T share it with others.
- Never respond to an email that asks for your account number, user ID, PIN, password, or other personal information, even if it appears to be from a source you trust or recognize.
So the next time we ask you to provide a verbal confirmation before we act on an email request, know that we require this extra step with your best interests in mind. Our goal is to make sure any attempted fraud is unsuccessful. It’s important to be aware and prepared, but we are hopeful this information will reassure you, not raise additional concerns.
If you want to learn more about our privacy and security policies, or those of the custodians we use, please ask. In the meantime, we’ll continue doing our best to safeguard your information, leaving technology a true enhancement to our lives.