Bolstering information security

Bolstering information security

by Julie Cournoyer, Marketing Advisor

Information security is a key issue for any company and can quickly become a matter of life or death for your operations. This threat is particularly relevant to financial firms. When a breach occurs, the department in charge of applying security measures frequently takes the blame, but in actual fact, information security is everyone’s responsibility. The three main components of information security are: confidentiality, protecting data from individuals who should not have access to them; integrity, protecting data from individuals who should not modify them; and availability, ensuring that data is backed up to allow you to keep operating.

As an investment advisor, it is your duty to protect your data and those of your clients. Due to the nature of your role, you have a significant influence on the financial future of many individuals. Regardless of the size of your organization, several initiatives can be implemented to raise the level of security within your firm and mobilize your staff. Below are some examples.

Analyze the risks

First, list the assets you want to protect. What would happen if you misplaced your laptop? What would the repercussions be if you lost your data?

Take a moment to identify the imminent threats and think about the intruders’ possible motives. Who are the intruders? What are they looking for? Is the danger digital or physical? List and group your potential threats by category. Knowing who and what you are dealing with will help you determine how to respond to attacks and limit intrusions.

Last but not least, identify your vulnerabilities. Are your software versions up to date? Do you use a default password or the same password for all your accounts? Are your office spaces secure?

Create documentation

Documentation is the key to successfully implementing a security program. It provides direct support to the different initiatives by formalizing the decisions made in relation to the governance of information security. Documentation must include elements that explain the security program’s how (procedures), what (technical standards, sub-policies), and why (strategic direction).

Restrict access

Given that your information and resources are valuable, you should limit access to sensitive information to the strict minimum. Regardless of your team’s size, require everyone to lock their computer before leaving their workstation. This simple task is often overlooked. You can also secure your office spaces by introducing photo ID access cards. Make sure not to include your company name or logo, however, as a lost card could fall into the wrong hands and lead to an unwanted surprise visit. An employee’s access card could also be forged using a photo or video from the Internet. Be sure not to share images or documents where your access card is visible.

In terms of IT resources, limit licenses and IDs to a single person. Measures like two-step verification can strengthen access protection by requiring a password and an additional action to confirm the user’s identity.

Educate staff

Inform your employees of the procedures to follow by having them sign the documents relating to your security policy. These documents should be updated and reviewed annually by all staff and should include your information security objectives, contacts, procedures, regulations, and any other relevant information. Also organize meetings with your staff to explain the issues and risks involved when there is a security threat, and encourage them to report all incidents to your security manager without delay.

Phishing emails and “CEO fraud” are becoming more common. Notify your employees to ensure they stay alert and look out for emails from unknown senders. When in doubt, they should forward the suspicious message to the head of security without clicking the attachments.

Equip yourself

Antivirus software is a simple and inexpensive tool for limiting cyber attacks. Encrypting your devices is also very effective for limiting leaks. Your data will remain unreadable until the encryption key is entered at startup. With a password manager, you only need to remember a single password to access the password manager and easily organize and save other passwords securely. Password managers can be installed simultaneously on multiple devices for greater mobility.

Speaking with a consultant can be a good idea to help you get started, or to strengthen the measures you already have in place. They will assess your security posture and provide you with several solutions tailored to your needs.

Adding security cameras and an alarm system can help deter physical intrusions. Smart doorbells are now available on the market, which alert you when someone is on your property so you can avoid opening the door to the wrong people.

Information security must be carefully managed to give your clients the assurance that your company has effective and efficient internal controls over their financial, information, and security reports. While this process requires significant time and effort, it will allow you to protect your intellectual property and reputation, and to maintain your operational effectiveness while complying with regulatory and legal requirements. Say goodbye to IT intruders and remember that information security is everyone’s responsibility!


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