Cybersecurity and Client Data Protection

By Steve Dixon, CFA

The US government has identified cybersecurity as “one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation.”1  As technology progresses at a rapid pace, financial services firms are faced with a host of cyber threats.  Firms like ours are not only the holders of substantial private information, we are often the front line of defense for our clients.  The responsibility to safeguard client and firm information from the risk of loss from cyber attack has been the focus of considerable discussion by Birchwood over the last year.  

Good Catch Trophy

The most challenging attacks exploit human vulnerabilities rather than technological ones, which are easier to remediate.  Warding off hackers comes down to how our technology providers and our employees together can safeguard your information. Birchwood is focusing on education of our staff.  For example, how to spot suspicious emails or questionable phone calls  and how to follow up with a client through a phone number they have provided us, to double check the request. We have instituted a Good Catch award (see photo) to recognize the actions of an employee that catches unusual or suspicious activity.   

Steps Taken

We have taken a number of steps to upgrade our technology.  Currently we access all of our applications and data via a cloud server which requires that we authenticate our individual identity with 2 levels of identification for access.  These servers are securely stored at an offsite location and the data is backed up. We manage our vendor and partner relationships ensuring that they also have the protection of sensitive information as a priority.  At Birchwood, all confidential paper files are securely stored and shredded using a professional document destruction service when the files are no longer needed. 

Cybersecurity continues to evolve and we will change our business processes accordingly. Eliminating threats is impossible, so protecting against them is a top priority. 

1 https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-securing-our-nations-cyber-infrastructure

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