Clients Request More Information About Staying Safe Online

In the days when we had face to face client events we asked clients for feedback on what they enjoyed the most and what they would like to see in the future at our events. You will probably not be surprised to know that the most requested topic was not stock market updates or investment performance. It was in fact “Staying Safe Online”. I ran a presentation on this at the next event.

After the event we were again overwhelmed with the feedback from this session

We now have a month dedicated to staying safe online where we share hints and tips. As trusted advisers for our clients, they do look to us for advice on so many areas outside of just financial matters.

With most people still working from home and spending much more time online, this makes it especially challenging for people to protect their personal information and devices, let alone all the data and devices they have to use for work.

There are many victims of financial scams

According to a new report from Canada Life, 5.2 million people had been victims of financial scams or knew a victim since the outbreak of Covid-19. The financial cost of being scammed is significant One in ten people who know someone who has been scammed or have been a victim themselves and has lost over £1,000.

I don’t propose to be an IT expert but wanted to share some tips on what we have implemented to keep us safe and our clients safe online.

Protect all your email accounts

Your email account is probably the most important thing that you need to keep safe. If you ever reset a password or place any order online, you will probably get the email relating to this into your email account. Therefore, if someone gets access to your email account, they can change your passwords and place orders without your knowledge. Ensure that you have set up a very strong password, with a different password for each account & if possible, set up two step authentication.

Use good password management

If you had asked me 18 months ago how we stored all our passwords, I’d be very ashamed to tell you each staff member had an excel spreadsheet that was password protected. We have now moved away from that and have a much more secure and robust system.

Our new system allows us set up a company policy for password security and have the log-ins both password and multifactor authentication protected. We can share passwords and hide the passwords when we do share. It’s great for me to oversee as I can see who has access to which passwords and how they are being shared, including the ability to change a shared password, or quickly revoke access if needed. 

Protect your computer

  • Make sure your Wi-Fi connection is secure and encrypted with a password so that other people cannot access your internet connection.
  • Make sure that your computers have anti-virus, malware protection and firewall software installed.
  • Don’t ever reply to spam or unsolicited emails from an unknown or untrusted sender
  • Make sure you don’t download attachments or click links to web pages within spam emails as these can often contain viruses.

Fraudsters can make an email address and email design look like one used by someone legitimate.

  • If you do receive a spam email, delete the email straight away and then set your mailbox settings to make sure that any future spam emails from that sender are put straight into your junk mail folder.
  • Make this company policy and regularly remind staff to stay vigilant.

If you suspect that someone has hacked your computer:

  • Contact your IT support company straight away
  • Make sure that you use a safe computer (such as a friend or family member’s) to immediately change the passwords on your main online accounts such as your bank account and your email account
  • Check to see if your email address has been caught in a breach by typing it into “Have I been Pwnd? (This is a database of compromised accounts)

Get specialist support

I’m a big believer in doing what you do best with your unique ability and IT certainly isn’t one of ours. We outsource all of our IT to a local company that specialise in it and do a fantastic job of looking after us. It helps me sleep at night knowing that our IT is in safe hands.

However, just handing off your IT to an outsourced company isn’t enough – you still need to have an understanding of what your IT set up actually is.

Can you answer these questions about your company IT?

  • How often are your back-ups done and how long are they kept for?
  • Have you ever done a test to see how quick and easy it is to recover a document from your back up? It’s something that we do every couple of months just to be sure that the backups are still running and still working.
  • What antivirus protection do you use and how does it work?
  • Are your incoming emails filtered and checked for spam before they are delivered to your network?
  • How often do you audit your IT arrangements?
  • Are your laptops set up with a remote locate and wipe facility to maintain confidentiality of the data in the event of a loss or theft?

You should always stay vigilant when it comes to staying safe online

Make it as easy as possible for your employees to do the right (and secure) thing when it comes to protecting their passwords and computers. If you want them to keep corporate data and systems secure – you have to provide a clear path that is easy from them to follow.

And as the saying goes “before you click that link… stop and think!”