Cybersecurity is key to protecting financial security

July 06, 2022

managing cybersecurity threats

You’ve had many conversations about financial security with employers and clients, but have you talked about the potentially devastating implications of failing to consider cybersecurity?

The trends are alarming, especially from ransomware. In early 2022, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), National Security Agency (NSA), Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) and the United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC-UK) issued a joint Cybersecurity Advisory based on growing threats.1 Trends they’ve seen include increased access to networks via phishing, a more “professional” ransomware market and increased targeting from ransomware groups on holidays and weekends.1

The message is clear: It’s crucial for individuals and organizations to remain vigilant against cybersecurity threats at all times.

Why individuals and businesses need to stay on guard

Cybercrime has not slowed down. In fact, the techniques of these malicious actors, particularly regarding ransomware, evolved throughout 2021.2

The abilities of hackers to compromise the personal financial information of millions of Americans continue to fuel fears among corporations and consumers. Those who are concerned about protecting their finances and personal information from online threats might raise questions and concerns about just how safe their investments are in your cyber-care.

How can plan advisors and sponsors help address employers and clients’ concerns?

Create a formal, well-documented cybersecurity program

First things first: put a comprehensive cybersecurity plan in action. Don’t be vague about your protocols. Develop an exhaustive plan that details methods already in place to protect your network, assets, employees, clients and customers.

Document in writing how you’d mitigate attacks, taking all possible methods of cyberattacks into account, including phishing, ransomware and viruses. Be clear and thorough.

Share your cybersecurity protocols

Similar to quelling market volatility fears, it’s wise to get ahead of potential issues or concerns by having proactive conversations with concerned clients or employer contacts about your best practices with regard to cybersecurity protocols. While highly technical conversations are generally not warranted, conveying what steps you’re taking for protection is often reassuring.

In addition, a discussion about cybersecurity double-checks could help give your company contacts or clients a heads-up about what they might encounter during transactions with you. Items on the discussion list might include:

  • Multi-step authentications and authorizations
  • Encryption of email attachments
  • Verbal confirmations that could include voice recognition tools, or the use of other forms of biometrics such as fingerprint scanning

Your particular protocols may vary from those listed, but the point remains the same: Leaning into a discussion about the security measures you put in place can go a long way to help alleviate concerns from employers or individual clients.

Cybersecurity best practices

This conversation may also provide you with an opportunity to remind your contacts that they can take an active role in keeping their personal and financial information safe.

Consider sharing these suggestions:3

  • Limit personal information shared online.
  • Keep software and operating systems up to date.
  • Create complex passwords that contain a combination of numbers, characters and upper and lowercase letters.
  • Don’t share PINs or passwords.
  • Watch out for suspicious activity that asks for action right away or offers something that sounds too good to be true.
  • Only use secure Wi-Fi connections, and change Wi-Fi network passwords regularly.
  • Do not open attachments or click on links contained in suspicious-looking emails or emails from unknown parties looking for personal information. If there’s any doubt, don’t click.
  • Be cautious about sharing personal financial information. Do not use sites with invalid certificates; look for sites that begin with “HTTPS.”
  • Use antivirus software and firewalls.
  • Regularly back up files in encrypted storage.
  • Regularly check account statements for unfamiliar activity.
  • Remember that the government won’t call, text or contact anyone through social media about owing money.
  • Scammers may try to take advantage of financial fears by offering work-from-home opportunities, debt consolidation offers and student loan repayment.

Protecting financial accounts from outside interference is a smart strategy for maintaining strong, trusted relationships.

Keep yourself updated

We encourage you to stay current on trends in the industry by bookmarking our Insights page. There, you’ll find the latest market and industry thought leadership that’s important to your business and benefits programs.

1Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, CISA, FBI, NSA and International Partners Issue Advisory on Ransomware Trends from 2021, February 9, 2022
2 Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, 2021 Trends Show Increased Globalized Threat of Ransomware, February 9, 2022, Cybersecurity, March 15, 2022