Outside voices and views for advisers

Don't embarrass Grandma – or your clients

Maintain strict security policies on company cloud files – and no naked selfies, please

Sep 3, 2014 @ 11:28 am

By Matthew Halloran

cloud, icloud, jennifer lawrence, justin verlander, kate upton, security, hacking, selfie
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Jennifer Lawrence is among the celebrities in the news lately for having inappropriate pictures of themselves hacked and then leaked.

Kate Upton, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jennifer Lawrence and Justin Verlander have been in the news lately for reasons that would give their grandmothers an aneurysm. Did they leave inappropriate pictures of themselves out there for anyone to see? No. They were “secure” and someone had to hunt for them.

Do you need to worry? Most aging financial advisers are not taking naked selfies. Unless you are a celebrity in your area and someone wants to give you bad press, you have little to worry about personally.

But what about all that information you just moved to the cloud? My clients are moving their CRMs to the cloud in record numbers. Are you?

I think security of client information is a question that most broker-dealers are going to be bringing up in the near future, if not already.

You should talk to your clients about the security of their information, especially since using the cloud — instead of personally owned servers — is only going to become more prevalent.

Here are a couple of great things that you can do now to make sure that your information is very secure.

1. If you have very personal information about clients or their families in your records, create code words that only you and your team know and use them, especially if you work with well-known people. Naked selfies are bad and all, but the information we hold on our clients is much more damaging.

2. Make sure you change your passwords often if you don't have an RSA security token. If you don't have an RSA security token (or something like it), you need to get one as soon as possible. They are random number generators that add a serious level of security to your CRM and B-D logins. If you don't have one, change your passwords often with letters, numbers, capitals and symbols. You all know this, but I know not all of you do it as often as you should. Yes, it is a pain, but it is pain now for the security of your clients.

(Here are more tips on how to use the cloud securely.)

3. Make sure you're shutting everything down on a regular basis. Don't leave your apps open on your phones and iPads. Close the app entirely when you get done accessing it. Yes, it's supposed to be secure, but a lot of times closing that app will make it inaccessible to anyone trying to access your portable through Bluetooth or your Wi-Fi connection.

(More: What to do when your cloud crashes)

According to Time magazine, the celebrity photos were accessed through the iPhone's “Find my iPhone App.” That can be a gateway into your phone. Apple says you can force your phone to ask you two personal questions before you (or someone else) can access your iCloud information. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi can also be a large door open for hackers to access whatever you have open on your portable device.

4. Use discretion. The celebrities who are getting themselves in trouble today are not using discretion. Is it personal? Yes. Is it private? Yes. Everyone has phones with great cameras. Let's use them to take pictures of sunsets or rocks, not naked selfies.

And always remember that when something is on the Internet, it will be there forever. There will always be a record of it somewhere, so make sure your data are secure, make sure you're changing your passwords, and make sure you close out your apps.

Your grandmother will thank you.

Matthew Halloran is a certified coach for advisers. He wrote “The Social Media Handbook for Financial Advisors: How to Use LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to Build and Grow Your Business.”


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