Internet Security for Family Offices: 10 Steps to Protect Online Information

More than 552 million identities were exposed in data breaches during 20131. According to Symantec’s Internet Security Threat 2014 report: “Attackers will often use both the personal and professional accounts of the individual targeted, although statistically the victim’s work-related account is more likely to be targeted.”
The Internet has brought connection, communication and efficiency to the business world, including family offices. However, conducting business online without proper security and knowledge of risks can endanger the family and its data. The right level of expertise, planning and effort is required to safeguard sensitive information. It is an organizational effort, but employees and family members also benefit from using best practices to protect personal information online.
Today’s biggest threats occur unknowingly as we can easily pick up stealthy viruses and malware while using the Internet. They function like sleeper agents, scanning networks for prey once they are activated. Home computers may be used as a conduit to break into other machines, but they are seldom the target. Finding who and what you are connected to online is the goal of the intruder.
What should family offices do to protect themselves?
We are at risk every time we hop on the Internet. Thankfully, there are significant steps that both individuals and family offices can take to protect information.  Here are 10 essential security practices to consider:

  1. Hire a trustworthy IT administrator.

  2. Map out data traffic and identify elements to secure.

  3. Set up a secure wireless network and limit access.

  4. Encrypt devices.

  5. Secure data in transit with Virtual Private Networks (VPN) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL).

  6. Make it easy for employees to participate.

  7. Establish best practices.

  8. Plan for accidents or breaches.

  9. Create a clear process for granting and removing access to company information.

  10. Develop an Employee Handbook.

Security is not just about technology. It is also about the relationships family offices nurture. By encouraging employees to contribute ideas, share knowledge and highlight potential issues, family office management can set the precedent and execute a plan. Developing technical talent in-house and connecting with reliable outside technology partners helps the organization stay up-to-date. Internet crime continues to grow daily, but awareness is a family office’s best defense.
More in-depth information is available in a white paper we recently developed that provides an overview of the expertise, planning and effort required to safeguard sensitive information along with best practices for Internet use.
1 Internet Security Threat Report 2014, Symantec
Dennis Mangalindan is Vice President of North American Sales and Marketing for Archway Technology Partners(Archway), a software company whose products support the accounting investment management and reporting functions for Single Family Offices, Multi-Family Offices, Investment Advisors and Hedge Funds.

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