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Who Will Show Your Clients How to Fight the Growing Cybersecurity Threat?

  • Their accountant? Their attorney? A robo-advisor?
  • It Should Be You—Their Financial Advisor!

"Nearly every aspect of a hacked computer and a user’s online life can be and has been commoditized. If it has value and can be resold, you can be sure there is a service or product offered in the cybercriminal underground to monetize it. I haven’t yet found an exception to this rule."

–Brian Krebs, Security Expert,

Dear Advisor,

It’s imperative you engage your clients immediately about cybersecurity and do your best to help them boost their safety!

Cybersecurity poses a massive threat to all of us. But most people have no idea what to do or how to fix it in a meaningful way. Just consider these items:

  • 144 billion spam emails sent every day, most of them malicious…
  • 500,000 children’s identities stolen every year—and they don’t discover it until adulthood…
  • 100,000 new malware attacks released on the Internet every day… 
  • 1 in 5 businesses are the victims of business ID theft and 60% of those go out of business in just six months after a data breach…
  • 1 in 4 data breach victims later suffer ID theft

Frankly, I used to think this stuff was overblown.

Then a very smart colleague clicked on an email link. It was a phishing attack that slipped through our very good cyber defenses here at Horsesmouth.

In one second, his machine was totally locked up—a new victim of “crypto locker,” a ransomware attack. When he rebooted his computer, he got a screen that said he could have his machine back for $500 in bitcoin.

It was quite a shock. Of course, we didn’t pay the ransom. But our tech crew spent a day and a half fixing the machine. And data was lost.

It could have been worse.

My point is that this sort of phishing attack happens thousands and thousands of times each day around the world. And the next victim could be you or one of your clients.

You’ve probably noticed that cybersecurity is getting a lot of attention these days.

Recently, SIFMA issued an alarming notice. They asked the government to join with the financial services industry to create a cyberwar council. Their concern: Terrorists or rogue nations attacking the Internet and breaching the security of major banks and brokerages. Crazy, huh?

Some industry experts even voiced concern about a “Zero Balance Attack”: a hack so powerful it would turn all account balances to zero and trigger wide spread panic and bank runs. Ugh.

You’ve probably heard about the latest data breaches. But did you see the Wall Street Journal article about data breaches? One of the people featured was making the case that corporations shouldn’t even be required to disclose to the public when their defenses have been penetrated by hackers. Nice.

And, no doubt, you’ve heard that FINRA now wants to know what advisors are doing to guarantee their own cyberdefenses are strong.

Technology’s double-edged sword

The breadth and depth of the security threat is unparalleled in history. And it’s partly because of the technology itself.

Change comes rapidly in technology. We all know that. But few realize that that same pace of change applies to an important subarea of technology—security.

Just consider this. When we discovered in late 2013 that the Target breach had stolen 70 million names and 40 million credit card numbers—it was practically unthinkable.

Yet it took just over six months for a new data breach to reveal that 1.2 billion usernames and passwords had been stolen by Russian hackers. That’s a number 1,700 times greater than the Target breach!

That’s exponential growth. And it should frighten all of us.

In fact, the authors of the newly released Cybersecurity and Cyberwar (Singer & Feldman, 2014) say we’re actually in the midst of a cyber world war. The chief problem, they say, is that we’re all suffering from a “cybersecurity knowledge gap.”

AOL’s “You’ve got mail” is not so cute, anymore.

Many people formed notions about computers and Internet safety back when they first got on the Web. But the cybersecurity problem is fantastically more advanced than it was even 10 years ago.

The simple truth: You and your clients face extreme danger every time you open your email. It’s like a game of “Click Roulette.”

What Should You Do for Your Clients?

Since January of 2014, a team at Horsesmouth has labored over a simple but difficult question: How to get clients to ACT to improve their cybersecurity once we’ve educated them about the true, genuinely scary situation we all face?

Now we’ve got the answer.

Every client needs a cybersecurity score that measures their relative level of cybersecurity AND a clear, do-able action plan for improving it.

That’s how we came up with the Savvy Cybersecurity program, a full-blown workshop presentation that leads attendees through creating their own action plan to boost their security.

The program includes two key components.

One involves a full-blown, interactive workshop presentation called “1 Hour to Savvy Cybersecurity: 10 Threats Every Person and Business Faces—and How to Fight Them.” (If you’d like to become a knowledgeable guide on this topic and present to clients and business owners in your community, Learn about the whole program right here.)

The other involves the Savvy Cybersecurity Quick Reference Guide.

Both the workshop and the guide have the same goal: Show clients how to act now to improve their cybersecurity.

The reference guide is designed to be used alone, one-on-one with clients, or in a group setting if you’re delivering the 1 Hour to Savvy Cybersecurity workshop.

Here’s how to use the Savvy Cybersecurity Quick Reference Guide:

Step 1: Complete the 10-question cybersecurity scorecard.

The guide starts by assessing your client’s current level of cybersecurity knowledge using the scorecard in part A. It’s a simple process. The client answers Yes or No to 10 statements about various, critical aspects of cybersecurity.

For instance, one question about Wi-Fi asks: “I can spot the difference between dangerous free public Wi-Fi and useful, secure free Public Wi-Fi.” (This is a critical question most people get wrong and it is really dangerous!)

Other questions cover these topics: credit files, social media, software, Wi-Fi, devices, passwords, skimming, data breaches, and phishing.

At the end of the 10-question assessment, the client adds up points for every Yes answer. That gives them a raw cybersecurity score.

Step 2: Discover your cybersecurity rating

Your client then takes their raw score and applies it to the cybersecurity rating in part B. It’s a simple system that tells them where they fit on a cybersecurity continuum from “Danger” to “Okay” to “Good.” (Most everyone is dangerously weak!)

Step 3: Consult the cybersecurity checklist

The client then reviews the checklist in part C. The checklist is designed to help your client identify activities he or she can act on now that will boost their security and improve their cybersecurity score.

The client can pick from among more than 25 simple, clear actions covering 10 different topics. Each action shows roughly how long it will take to complete and how many points it adds to their cybersecurity score. After reviewing the checklist, the clients are ready for the final step.

Step 4: Complete your action plan and then get going

The goal of the Savvy Cybersecurity Quick Reference Guide is to get your clients to take action. That’s why we’ve set up a simple, 3-item action plan for them to complete in part D. After reviewing the checklist, the client writes down three steps they’ll take ASAP to improve their security. They also enter a completion date and sign it. We do this for two reasons:

1) When people write things down, they’re more likely to actually do what they say.

2) Studies show people are also more likely to act when they pick a completion date and sign a commitment to get something done.

So, rather than just informing clients of the cybersecurity problem and hoping they do something, we’ve made taking action more real and concrete. Getting people to do things—as every advisor knows—is hard business. But adding the action plan element to the reference guide should help, along with some follow-up from you.

Follow-up with clients: Who will guide them in cybersecurity?

As you’ll see and experience in the weeks and months ahead, the critical cybersecurity situation is not likely to improve.

For instance, people think adding the EMV-chip technology to credit cards will reduce fraud. But we’ve already seen in Europe that is not true. After an initial dip in problems, fraud started rising again.

Cybersecurity is a virtual battlefield. Every time the security white hats come up with a solution, the black hats find a new vulnerability to exploit. It is an arms race with no end in sight.

Who should be the person in your clients’ lives who guides them, nudges them, urges them to stay current and alert on cybersecurity issues?

That person should be the financial advisor. At least, that’s what 75% of 1,000 advisors told Horsesmouth when we surveyed them about cybersecurity and their clients.

That’s why the Savvy Cybersecurity Quick Reference Guide will become an annual staple of some advisors’ client service.

We suggest that you get the reference guide in front of all your clients as soon as possible. Ask them to complete it and contact you. And then follow up with them asking if they’ve actually completed their initial cybersecurity action plan.

Add cybersecurity to your client meeting agendas. At a minimum, check in with your clients once a year on this topic. And include information about cybersecurity threats in your newsletters.

If you think about it, there’s really no other professional in your clients’ lives better equipped and positioned to promote cybersecurity than you, the financial advisor. That’s for two reasons: 1) It is your clients’ money and reputation at stake. 2) You share an even greater concern about cybersecurity than they do. (See FINRA.)

You’ve got to be certain you and your staff are always on top of this issue. What better way to demonstrate that to clients than through an annual cybersecurity briefing with each one of them.

The Savvy Cybersecurity Quick Reference Guide is the key way to achieve this goal. What else is included?

The reference guide also includes:

  • Password Letter to Symbol Conversion Chart: Helps clients transform their weak, insecure passwords to stronger, more secure passwords. The chart shows them how to easily replace letters with symbols that are key to making passwords more difficult to crack—yet easy to remember for clients.
  • Resources: For convenience for your clients, we’ve put all the phone numbers of all the credit bureaus in one place on the back of the card. It’s good to have these numbers handy when a client realizes they need to check on their credit reports or learn about their minor children’s status in the credit bureau databases.

This two-sided reference card allows your clients and prospects to quickly measure their current cybersecurity knowledge gap. Then it provides specific actions they can take to quickly boost their security and protect themselves, their families, and even their jobs.

7 Reasons to Use the Savvy Cybersecurity Quick Reference Guide

Eighty-nine percent of advisors surveyed are worried about fraud for their clients, and themselves. More and more cyberthreats emerge every day and it's time to do something about it.

Advisors who educate their clients on cybersecurity differentiate themselves from other advisors and connect with clients at a higher level.

You can do that with the Savvy Cybersecurity Quick Reference Guide.

Here are 7 reasons you need the Savvy Cybersecurity Quick Reference Guide:

  1. Because it leads your clients and prospects through the cybersecurity process. The guide measures their current security level and provides actions they can take to boost their security.
  2. Because no one else is talking to them about this. Cyberthreats are everywhere, yet no one is educating your clients on this topic. You should be that person.
  3. Because it shows that you care. Educating clients and prospects about cybersecurity shows that you are interested in their well-being and want to keep them safe.
  4. Because it allows you to communicate with clients and prospects. Using the Savvy Cybersecurity Quick Reference Guide, you can expand the types of important conversations you have with clients. It’s not entirely about investments or planning.
  5. Because it builds trust. Your clients will now have another reason to sing your praises and recommended you to others.
  6. Because it will set you apart. Most advisors are not talking about cybersecurity with their clients. This card allows you to differentiate yourself from the competition.
  7. Because identity theft is on the rise. Every day we see new breaches, hacks, and scams that target your clients' identities. With 13.1 million victims of identity theft in recent years, it's important that you help your clients guard against this growing threat. 

Order Your Savvy Cybersecurity Quick Reference Guide Cards Today

The Savvy Cybersecurity Quick Reference Guide can be branded with your photo, logo and contact information. The guide can be shared with clients and prospects as part of any client service program.

It gives you a concrete reason to have a professional exchange with people about threats everyone faces.

When you order the Savvy Cybersecurity Quick Reference Guide you get 100 copies for $197, plus unlimited uses of your personalized PDF.

Enjoy These Savvy Cybersecurity Quick Reference Guide Features:

  1. Instant, branded PDF—Share it right now with clients.
  2. Printed, branded cards—Mail/hand out in client meetings.
  3. Help clients create an action plan—They’ll be grateful for your help.

About Horsesmouth

Since 1997, Horsesmouth has been helping financial advisors succeed by providing timely guidance on key topics such as business development, practice management, financial planning and investment strategies.

FOR INSTANT SERVICE Call Toll Free: 1-888-336-6884 ext 1 (Outside U.S.: 1-212-343-8760)


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