With cyberattacks on the increase, all businesses need to safeguard their IT systems. Financial Planners aren’t exempt from this. In fact, due to the strict legal obligations around the nature of handling client-sensitive data the financial sector has quite stringent obligations. With both the legal and moral obligation to protect your clients information, it can be daunting to make sure that your data and your business is protected.
We know this can be overwhelming when it comes to compliance and outsourcing your tasks. Just like staff working from home, your clients security is paramount no matter who has access. Which is why having a trusted partner who understands your regulatory obligations is invaluable to help you keep your business secure.
Data security is one of the most important investments any company can make. Here are some practical steps that you to implement to tighten up your data security today. We can also assist you to understand any vulnerabilities through an audit of your business systems and processes.
1) Back up your data and password protection
Creating a backup copy of your data has never been easier with the increased popularity of cloud-based storage. Whether you use Google Drive, One Drive or Dropbox, the options are endless and can often be automated. Most cloud-based CRMs will automatically keep records of changes to data for a period of time. This ensures that if your data is lost, you can restore it easily and efficiently.
If your data us being stored on cloud-based servers, it is more important than ever to use strong passwords across all devices and accounts involved in your operations, including smartphones, laptops, tablets, email accounts, and computers. This applies to you, your staff, and anyone who is accessing your systems and not share accounts between staff.
2) Take care when working remotely
They hybrid business model has made it easier than ever to for you and your team to work from where you want, when you want. It also comes with some risks you should consider when setting-up your team with access to your data. To make sure the devices you use are as secure as possible here are some considerations:
Company issued devices
This is the most secure option, but also the most expensive:
Things you should consider:
- Ensure devices can be supported and updated remotely
- Prevent data loss by installing appropriate software to secure control and ensure compliance
- Using remote access authentication and use multi-factor authentication
Bring your own device, but access company software
This is the most cost-effective option but comes with some security risks:
Things you should consider:
- Using multi-factor authentication for remote access
- Ensure company data can’t be copied onto personal storage or devices
- Prevent compromised security by planning ahead and ensuring operating systems are updated and secure
2) Use your own device
This option comes with the most security risks but is popular for smaller businesses, and especially those outsourcing tasks:
Things you should consider:
- Ensure operating systems (such as firewalls) are up to date to avoid compromise of data
- Keep software updated, particularly those programs that require internet connectivity
- Where possible use separate work devices instead of personal devices
3) Suspicious emails and virus protection
It’s important to educate yourself and your staff on the perils of suspicious emails and phishing attacks. Phishing involves scammers sending communication (usually email) disguised as a trusted sender in order to steal confidential information.
Some tips to recognise these include:
- It is unexpected or creates a sense of urgency for you to do something
- It asks you to click on a link, open an attachment or send you to a website to enter information
- The link suggests a legitimate website but when you hover over it, it is a different website
- It asks for information that the real or legitimate sender would not need to know
Always keep your anti-virus and malware protection renewed and ensure staff only download apps for work mobile phones and tablets from manufacturer-approved stores (like Google Play or Apple Store). Another element to remember is to ensure when setting up a staff account they are provided with only the appropriate access to systems to perform their role.
4) Wi-Fi security and VPN’s
Your private files and information become more vulnerable and open to others using your internet connection easily through an unsecured Wi-Fi connection. VPN’s (Virtual Private Networks) are another option for security purposes by encrypting your connection and securing all your browsing data from unwanted sources. When you use a VPN, your data doesn’t go through your internet service provider’s (ISP) servers. Instead, it goes through servers operated by the VPN company, which changes your IP address to hide your true online identity.
5) Don’t keep data for longer than you need it
Keeping track of both personal and work data can save you time and resources while also assisting to fulfill your data protection obligations. It’s recommended that you only retain the data that you require and for the duration that you require it. This can be achieved by implementing effective digital records management practices and having an electronic document and records management system.
Overall, keeping IT systems secure is a job that requires effort and diligence. It’s important to remember the three key components of security: detection and prevention, risk management, and response planning. Organisations that are looking for offshore possibilities can ensure they are always prepared for any potential security threats, by implementing these strategies. Additionally, having a well-trained team that knows how to respond to security threats, as well as an IT policy is critical in ensuring the safety and integrity of your IT systems.
As part of our onboarding process, we will review your systems and set up to identify any cybersecurity risks. We also have a team of cyber security experts who can review your systems and correct any vulnerabilities. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you to ensure your data and your systems are protected.