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Personal Cybersecurity

10 Tips for the Affluent to Stay Cybersafe

5 Minute Read

As the pandemic moved us from the workplace to the home, it created an environment where cybercrime was able to thrive. In fact, the FBI reported receiving a record-breaking 69 percent rise in cybercrime complaints over the course of the pandemic, amounting to more than $4.2 billion in losses.

While this uptick puts all digital users at greater risk, cyberattacks are increasingly being directed at more affluent individuals. This is due to both their wealth, making them high-value targets, but also their social standing, making them more searchable online. According to a Campden Wealth Research study, more than a quarter of ultra high-net-worth (UHNW) families, family offices and family businesses, with an average wealth of $1.1 billion, have been targeted by a cyberattack. Even more alarming, more than a third of respondents to the study indicated they do not have a cybersecurity plan in place.

As a high-net-worth individual, it is increasingly important to keep cybersecurity top of mind. Here are the top 10 tips to help protect your assets and keep you cybersafe, and they don’t just involve technology. Some risks can be reduced by just changing behaviors and being more vigilant.

  • Be cautious about the amount and type of information you and your family share online. Cybercriminals can use this information to create targeted phishing attacks (fraudulent attempts to obtain sensitive information by disguising themselves as a trustworthy entity, typically via email). It’s best to take the “better safe than sorry” approach and pick up the phone to verify the email is actually coming from the person you believe it is. 
  • Be extra wary when opening links or downloading attachments in emails or clicking links in text messages. Attackers are very adept at using phishing techniques to steal sensitive data to access your accounts. Again, when in doubt, contact the sender via a known number (don’t rely on phone numbers in the messages) to confirm the content in the message.
  • Use strong passwords (at least 8 characters) on all of your accounts and do not use the same passwords on your financial accounts as you do on your personal accounts (e.g., personal email, shopping sites). Do not save your passwords in your browser when promoted to do so (e.g., save password for this site?)
  • If you think your account might have been compromised, immediately change your passwords and alert the entities involved.
  • Leverage multi-factor authentication whenever possible. This typically includes a password and a second type of authentication, such as a one-time passcode sent to your phone via text.
  • Make sure to check your devices (e.g., smartphones, tablets, laptops) periodically to ensure each is patched/upgraded with the latest available software from the manufacturer. Software updates often include stronger security measures to better protect you.
  • Use separate devices to log into financial accounts, preferably via your personal wifi connection. Don’t use business devices to access personal accounts.
  • Be extra cautious when conducting financial transactions, such as processing wire transfers.  Confirm the identity of the contact/receiver by using other trusted sources (a known contact number or company website).
  • Put dollar thresholds in place for approvers responsible for money transfers/payments.
  • Consider encrypting and backing up your data. Doing so provides a strong defense against a ransom-based attack and protects your data in case you lose control of a device.

In addition to the above, one of the best ways to protect your family and your business against cyber-attacks is to educate all members/employees so they clearly understand the risks and threats. Check out NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) publications for information and resources.

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