Cybercrimes: Protect Your Agency, Advise Your Clients

Cybercrimes: Protect Your Agency, Advise Your Clients 2560 1709 Balance Point Team

cyber securityIt’s happened to all of us. An email appears in your inbox urgently asking you to attend to an unpaid balance, confirm a password change, or wire money to an unfortunate friend who got mugged while vacationing overseas.

These messages are often riddled with typos, poor grammar, and far-fetched scenarios.

Easy to spot a mile away.

But it’s getting trickier.

Today’s cybercriminals are becoming highly sophisticated and attacks more complex. Armed with well-developed underground tools, even those without a technical background can easily carry out an attack.

And it’s big business.

Forget the stereotype of the stranger lurking in the darkness, cybercrime is now lucrative enough that criminal groups are able to operate as legitimate organizations. What’s their mission? Find the fastest, easiest, and most advanced way to inflict the greatest damage.

A Shared Concern

We all hold a treasure-trove of data that hackers seek. Balance Point is no different. We continually take aggressive measures to protect our business and the businesses of the clients we serve. We’ve hired attorneys to closely examine our processes.

We’re creating a vendor management policy that states exactly what we do and what we ask when vetting vendors. And we’ve hired a risk analysis consultant.

Our business partners are faced with similar challenges. CPAs, in particular, are increasingly being targeted because of their direct access to sensitive information. A single incident can result in negative consequences, and lost revenue isn’t the only concern.

According to a survey of accountants, 42% of respondents consider “reputational cost affecting future client relationships” to be the greatest loss.

Protecting Your Business, Advising Your Clients

Brokers and CPAs are in a unique situation because they not only need to protect their agencies and firms, but as trusted business partners, they must advise their clients.

How do our brokers and CPA partners handle this?

To answer this question, and remain in-the-know on all concerns our partners face, Balance Point assembled thought-leaders in both industries to serve on our CPA Advisory Board and Insurance Consultancy.

The importance of developing and nurturing relationships is a hot topic among our Insurance Consultancy members. Keeping current and being visible is often cited as an effective way to retain business. “Let [your clients] know you’re available to help them,” said member Steve Radespiel, President of Insurance Center of North Jersey, “then you start developing relationships…it’s a relationship business with our clients.”

Taking Action

Cybersecurity was a hot topic during a recent CPA Advisory Board meeting.

The members had plenty of personal stories to share about how they, and their clients, were preyed upon by cybercriminals. This prompted Pete Luciano, one of the founders of Balance Point to ask, “Is safeguarding your business from cybercrimes a conversation you are having with your clients?”

Mitchell Sharpe, a Founding Partner of SKC and Co., was the first to respond “I think it’s important to hire a good, outside technology company that supports you even if you have somebody internal. I suggest to our clients that they have someone come to conduct extensive testing of their security. Depending on the relationship, I will force the issue a bit. It sets a certain tone within our firm that ‘boy these guys are serious.’”

CPA Firm Sax takes it seriously too. Susan Reed, a Partner there and Head of its Healthcare Practice, added “We started a technology division where we’re going to assist our clients in assessing their cybersecurity risk.”

Thomas Angelo, a member of our 2016 Board and currently Principal in Charge at HBK, recommended KnowB4, a security awareness program that trains employees and tests their gullibility by sending simulated emails. “You have to get down to the core. You see who clicked and say ‘wow,’ it’s time for training.”

Balance Point rolled out the program to our employees. It provided real insight into the mind of the hacker and what we need to do to protect ourselves and our clients. As a result, we’ve adopted tactics to ensure our safety from simple reminders to “Think Before You Click” to more extreme measures like disabling popular social media sites from office computers and migrating completely to cloud-based software.

One final piece of advice: remain vigilant and stay one step ahead of the criminals.

To read more, download the summaries from these initiatives from the Content Library on our website.

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