As cyber threats continue to grow, developing a robust cyber security system is becoming more and more important. Financial firms, in particular, need to consider potential threats and take actions to protect against those threats. For, the financial sector consistently ranks among the most-targeted sectors that cyber criminals try to exploit. If you run a financial firm, here are some practical ways to improve cyber security at your firm.
What Are Some Cyber Security Improvements My Financial Firm Can Make?
Establish Password Guidelines That Employees Must Follow
Passwords continue to be one of the first and most effective lines of defense against cyber criminals. Passwords, however, are only as strong as they’re made to be.
While most people recognize the benefits of creating strong passwords, many people are lazy and fail to use truly great passwords. Instead, they create ones that are shorter and less complex, and they often use the same password across multiple platforms. These factors make passwords easier to remember, as well as easier to crack.
Establishing guidelines for what constitutes an acceptable password will help make sure employees use strong passwords. Consider making it an official policy that all passwords used for work must:
Contain at least one lowercase letter, uppercase letter, number and special character
Be a minimum length (e.g. 8 characters)
Not be used for personal accounts
Be changed regularly (e.g. quarterly)
Although this may make it harder for employees to remember their passwords, remembering even difficult passwords is easier than dealing with the aftermath of a hacked password.
Confirm All Money Transfers Verbally
Many of the scams cyber criminals run try to get money directly from financial firms (as opposed to stealing personal data that can be sold).
There’s actually a fairly easy way to safeguard against many of these cash-seeking scams. Financial firms can simply confirm all money transfers verbally with clients. Verbal confirmation can be attained through an in-person meeting or a phone call, both of which are much harder to forge than an email or letter.
Clients may not want to be contacted about every purchase and sale of assets that’s made on their behalf, but most clients won’t mind getting a phone call when they go to transfer funds into or out of an account. After a firm explains that such calls serve as a way to improve cyber security, many clients will actually appreciate the extra step.
Outsource Security to an IT Firm
Cyber security has become extremely complex, to the point that it’s beyond the resources of most financial firms. Even one IT person will have a hard time keeping up with all of the advancements in cyber security.
For this reason, most financial firms should outsource their cyber security work to an IT firm that specializes in protecting businesses from online threats. A specialized IT firm will be able to set up a strong firewall, provide 24/7 monitoring and update a business’ system when necessary.
Purchase Cyber Security Insurance
In addition to precautionary measures, financial firms should also obtain cyber security insurance. A cyber liability policy helps protect a business from online threats not by actually thwarting them (as an IT firm’s services do) but rather by providing the resources necessary to recover from a successful attack. If a business succumbs to a covered cyber security issue, cyber insurance may help pay to remedy the security problem, compensate clients and restore the financial firm’s good name.
For help finding a cyber security insurance policy that meets your business’ needs, contact an independent insurance agent who specializes in this type of insurance. After reviewing the precautionary measures your business has in place, an agent can help you consider the potential online threats financial firm is exposed to and how insurance may help protect your firm from those threats.