How to keep client data safe from hackers

Clients’ financial information is a valuable commodity that is vulnerable to cyber thieves, and the sheer number of threats makes it possible that an advisory firm could come under attack.

After all, one company alone — Yahoo —discovered late last year that more than 1 billion user accounts were compromised in 2013. The U.S. Census Bureau currently puts the nation’s population at about 325 million.

“Advisers possess a repository of client names, account numbers and other data that make them high-value targets for hackers,” says Sanjiv Bawa, founder and CEO of Chi Networks, a Chicago-based IT company. “In many cases, financial advisers have documents stored on their computers that have this information.” 

Eric Kies, the chief compliance officer at The Planning Center, in Moline, Illinois, says he has been surprised to learn “how sophisticated and/or persistent the cyber criminals can be, and how sophisticated the cybercrime black market has become.” MORE