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Wealth Management business owner accesses his data securely on the cloud

3 Steps Your Wealth Management Firm Can Take to Protect its Data

Relocating to the Cloud offers remarkable perks for Financial and CPA firms that range coming from lesser IT costs, to real-time accessibility, to your customer tax information and even more dependability in regards to uptime. However, records in the Cloud are also susceptible to safety and security hazards similar to data stashed on physical servers. You’re going to need to take the proper procedures to ensure success with your data security.

Here are 3 things your wealth management firm can do to protect your sensitive data in the Cloud.

1 – Protected accessibility: The primary step will be to protect access to your data in the Cloud. How should you go about it? Secure your login credentials (your user ID’s as well as passwords) from spying eyes. Prepare solid password policies that are actually practiced across the board and also teach your employees concerning really good cybersecurity hygiene.
Do you have staff members using their own devices to access their work-related requests and files? Or possibly operating working remotely from a different location? If so, you additionally need to create strong BYOD (Bring-your-own-device) policies, so these tools do not fall into the hands of cybercriminals.

2 – Teach your employees: What is actually the very first thing that comes right into your head when someone discusses cybercrime? You most likely picture some strange person, a tech-whiz sitting in front of a personal computer in a dark area, making an effort to swipe your information. Unexpected as it may appear, the first as well as the biggest risk to your records and IT security comes from your staff members!

Destructive workers may do you harm purposefully by stealing or even damaging your records, however often, employees unknowingly come to be partners to cybercrime. For example, forwarding an email with an add-on which contains a virus, or clicking on a phishing web link unknowingly and entering delicate relevant information. They could even weaken surveillance when they discuss security passwords or even attach files using an unprotected Wi-Fi in social areas like the public locales or airport terminals with a view to “get things done “, and then without recognizing just how tragic the implications of such activities can be.

3 – Choosing the best Managed Provider (MSP): If you are actually putting your sensitive tax data in the Cloud, you need to have to see to it that it is in secure hands. Because of this, it is your managed service provider’s responsibility to guarantee your data is secure while easily and consistently accessible. Are they performing all that is actually needed to ensure this occurs? It is quite essential to choose a credible Cloud provider considering that you are essentially entrusting all your records to them. Therefore, in addition to strengthening your defenses, you should inspect exactly how well-prepared they are to actually avoid the dangers created by cybercriminals.

Comprehensive Cloud security is a mix of all these plus internal plans, greatest strategies, and rules related to IT security, as well as the MSP you pick to become your Cloud surveillance company contributes a vital part in all this.

Repairing Your IT Management

Small-to-medium-sized services (SMB’s) usually tend to have a more difficult experience managing IT than much larger organizations. Despite being as innovation dependent as bigger ventures, SMB’s such as accounting and financial firms possess tighter spending plans and less information to dedicate to IT control. This leads to a much more sensitive “break-fix” approach to their modern technology that never does any type of smaller sized business or association any type of good.

If the worry rests solely on your internal IT support, and they’re also cleaning up technology messes all the time, then their skills and talents are fundamentally lost.

If there is actually no in-house technician support, and other smaller companies or institutions don’t have even one on-site “IT man”, businesses are frequently taken for a ride by more underhanded IT advisors.

“If it isn’t damaged, don’t correct it” should never be applied to the control of business technology. The price of down time can easily obliterate any kind of scarcely surviving business. The mixed effect of lost income, dropped productivity, and reduced company credibility is actually a severe hit that many wealth management firms may not be constructed to hold up against.

It pays to become practical, certainly not reactionary when regarding innovation. This requires a social switch coming from how IT has often been dealt with previously. Forget about manual procedures and say hello to a better technique for companies to satisfy their technology needs – a smarter and also more inexpensive method.

How to Succeed with Company Innovation

Be Responsive – Most of the time, it is actually the things that may not be caught beforehand that develop into pricey company disruptions. For example, a lot of the hardware, programs, as well as software failures that lead to down time situations are actually preventable; they’re simply not noticed and addressed early enough.

Wealth management firms today benefit from utilizing a Remote Surveillance and Monitoring (RMM) tool to help their existing in-house IT staff get a grasp on their workload.

An RMM device, incorporated along with an outsourced 24/7 Network Operations Center (NOC), monitors your innovation all the time via one detailed user interface that is easily available using a mobile phone. This type of around-the-clock monitoring improves modern technology security. Issues could be cut short along with an alert and swift ticket settlement before they turn into major problems that interrupt day-to-day operations.

Automate/Schedule Tedious Tasks — Free the internal support personnel coming from everyday hands-on servicing and monitoring through automating a wide variety of IT security as well as surveillance duties.

Receive A Lot More From Your In-House IT — If you have any kind of in-house IT support, you have probably chose some incredibly skilled and also talented individuals that would be actually much more worthy contributors to your company if they weren’t so restricted constantly repairing issues and executing tedious tasks. Along With RMM and NOC options, financial and CPA firms can place these individuals to focus on ventures that actually matter. If you partner with a managed IT services provider, they can be freed-up to work on ideas, methods, as well as application growth that much better serve your customers, staff members, and suppliers, finally offering your organization a competitive advantage.

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Business man clicking a symbol of cloud computing

How Do You Make Regulatory Reporting Easier for Financial Institutions?

How Do You Make Regulatory Reporting Easier for Financial Institutions?

Financial institutions around the world are subjected to strict scrutiny to combat money laundering, tax evasion, fraud, terrorist financing, and other illegal activities. Complying with the standards set by regulatory bodies comes with its own costs, a burden that financial firms have to shoulder. It’s estimated that banks, insurance companies, brokerages, remittance firms, and other types of businesses that make up the financial sector spend more than USD 180 billion on compliance costs alone.

Despite this large spending, many establishments still fall short of meeting the guidelines set by regulatory bodies. This also comes with hefty fines. In just 10 years, financial institutions with local and international operations have accumulated a total of USD 36 billion in sanctions and fines due to non-compliance. In addition to this, brands also incur reputational damage due to getting involved in financial crimes and scandals.

This begs the question: what steps can your financial firm take to reduce the burden of regulatory reporting? At the same time, how can your company effectively protect itself from being used by criminals for illegal financial activities? Here are a few practical suggestions that can help your financial institution stay on top of the rules set by regulatory bodies:

Identify the Company’s Top Priorities for Regulatory Reporting

The first step in improving your company’s regulatory reporting process is to set goals and see how the current system you are using measures against these touchstones. Doing so will help you identify strengths and weaknesses in the process as well as choke points that should be resolved. If you’re planning on upgrading your regulatory reporting software or partnering with a managed IT services provider, this step can also help you create a detailed list of requirements that your new solution should be able to offer.

Examples of common improvements that can raise your establishment’s regulatory reporting capabilities include:

• a centralized data management system that can be readily accessed and used as a source for internal and external reporting;
• an automated end-to-end reporting system that takes care of everything from gathering data to submitting reports; and
• functionalities that allow easy visualization, prioritization, and organization of enterprise-level data, such as a depository for data quality rules.

Does your current regulatory reporting software have these tools and functions? If not, then it might be time to consider a more comprehensive and customizable solution, one that can effectively reduce the amount of work that your compliance team needs to shoulder.

Invest in Future-Proof Compliance Solutions

Financial crimes continue to evolve in an effort to foil the anti-crime measures implemented by law enforcement agencies, regulatory bodies, and financial establishments. To keep up with these changes and to remain effective in their mission, regulatory bodies are continually refining and updating the compliance rules that financial firms have to follow. This causes the cost of compliance to balloon year after year.

More than half of an average company’s compliance expenses goes to labor costs. This is because many firms find it necessary to hire specialized staff members or an IT consulting firm to ensure their company’s compliance every time regulatory bodies roll out new rules. The other half of the compliance budget is directed to technologies that can make the process more efficient.

However, many financial firms are reluctant to spend on new software for regulatory reporting, as this activity does not earn revenue for the company. At the same time, because compliance rules change every now and then, some companies are also not too keen on acquiring an expensive software that will go obsolete or need paid updates in the next few years or so.

What they may not know is that there are comprehensive reporting solutions out in the market today that automatically integrate the updated rules implemented by regulatory bodies. A solution like this can help ensure the integrity and timeliness of the reports generated by a financial establishment. It can also eliminate the need to hire specialized personnel every time regulatory bodies roll out new requirements. Moreover, because the new solution is updated automatically, companies can save on cybersecurity and what they would otherwise spend on new software or expensive updates.

In addition to savings, enterprise-wide regulatory reporting solutions offer a wide range of functionalities and customization options. This means that users can modify these solutions to suit the particular needs of their operation.

The Importance of Regulatory Reporting

Investing in regulatory reporting technologies has benefits that go beyond ensuring your company’s compliance. It’s also a solid step in protecting your company from the negative impacts of financial crime, like substantial fines and damages to one’s brand and integrity. In addition, providing your compliance team with the right tools and services will reduce the number of menial tasks that they need to accomplish. This, in turn, gives them more time and resources to ensure the quality of the reports that are submitted to regulatory bodies.

 

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How the Cloud Keeps Data Safe for Financial Firms

A 2019 Global Wealth Study by Boston Consulting group reported financial services firms are hit by cyberattacks 300 times more than other companies. Financial institutions have a lot of sensitive data cybercriminals can monetize if accessed. That is why the financial services industry is so heavily regulated.

The US has experienced huge breaches of consumer data the last few years, especially last year during the emergence of evolving remote work solutions. The most famous example in recent memory is the Financial Technology, or FinTech, company Equifax. They experienced a data breach in 2017. The breach compromised the personal financial information and social security numbers of more than 146 million people.

FinTech gives consumers access to mobile banking, personal financial data and other services. However, since FinTech is so recent, it doesn’t have a regulatory framework yet. In the US, for example, in the mobile payment industry there are eight federal agencies with minor oversight over finance. Moreover, all 50 states have their own rules. It’s a very different story for Financial organizations and as we’ve seen above, for good reason.

As we’ve seen, lacking a regulatory framework impacts more than just a financial firm. It puts consumers at risk. In the financial industry, achieving regulatory compliance should be the focus for financial institutions big and small.

Cloud Security and Compliance

For a financial firm, credibility is everything. No organization wants to be fined, shamed or, worst of all, left behind by clients. Therefore, firms need to understand the challenges ahead to achieve compliance. Compliance is one of the biggest reasons financial firms are skeptical about engaging in a cloud strategy. However, once you understand how compliance is achieved in the cloud, the transition won’t seem so daunting.

Cyber Threats

As mentioned above, cyber security threats are sophisticated and aimed at getting your firm’s information. Hackers use a variety of methods to compromise your infrastructure for financial gain.  You can’t discuss cloud compliance without mentioning cloud security. As the workforce becomes increasingly mobile it gets easier to attack organizations operating on insecure networks. As a result ransomware is the most common attacks and is now a $2 billion- per-year industry.

One important thing to keep in mind

One of the main concerns that come up when considering financial cloud compliance is that customers don’t manage their own IT infrastructure.

That’s why it’s important to stress the fact that cloud compliance is a two way street. Managed IT service providers have a contractual obligation to their clients but clients must rely on best practices and regulations to look out for their interests as well.  In other words, a specific provider, be SaaS or HaaS will offer certain compliance and security features, but it’s up to the client to responsibly implement those features. With that said, we move on to the features themselves.

FinTech Compliance Cloud Computing Statistics

What’s Covered by a Financial Cloud provider?

It depends. Since the every cloud provider differs in their services and the way they present information, CPA’s and financial companies should review each cloud option carefully. That means choosing the appropriate cloud provider. Like shoes, cloud providers are not a one-size-fits-all.

Things to look out for when choosing a cloud provider:

1) What data will be stored in the cloud and what will remain in house. Why?

2) Where the data will be stored. Some providers don’t give you this information.

3) Service Level Agreement (SLA). Due to the compliance and regulations standards in the financial services industry, your firm might have to carefully review the types of services the provider offers and which align with your needs.

4) Encrypting Data. Keeping with compliance standards means encrypting sensitive data to protect it.

5) Systems & access controls. Data security is a big compliance mandate. You should know who at your firm has access to what data and what your cloud provider has access to as well.

Regulations and Guidelines

The important thing is that a firm become aware of the regulatory policies and procedures it’s expected to comply with. The Financial Cloud provider should have documentary records of how they plan to meet compliance in the cloud.

The GLBA ( Gramm- Leach- Bliley Act) and the SOX (Sarbanes- Oxley) Act are two main pieces of legislation that deal with the storage and maintenance of information within a financial institution. Therefore, to help with compliance a cloud provider should share information and supply your firm with access to necessary documentation.

You can learn more in Nerds Support’s white paper on compliance which details the importance of maintaining data compliance.

Conclusion

Whether your firm chooses a private cloud or public cloud, compliance guidelines must be met to ensure optimal security. Cloud service providers and financial organizations should continue to improve their processes. Otherwise, your organization will be penalized or even breached. The data migrated from a firm to the cloud is valuable and entrusted to you by your clients. And when you mishandle that data, you run the risk of losing everything.

If you’d like to read more about how your financial or wealth management company can use the cloud to innovate, check out our page on IT Support for Financial Firms.

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Cyber criminal breaching federal emergency loan site for access to money.

8,000 Emergency Loan Applicants Affected by Data Breach

The SBA Was Breached

8,000 small business owners who applied for loans from the Small Business Administration potentially had their personal information exposed last month, admits the agency.

The Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (EIDL) offers up to $10,000 to owners currently struggling with their businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Who Is Affected?

The breach affects people who applied for the EIDL. Traditionally, it was used to aid owner whose businesses were impacted by tornadoes, hurricanes and other natural disasters. Congress expanded it in the $2.2 trillion CARES Act.

Notification letters were sent to 7,913 applicants possibly impacted by the breach and then the letters were posted online. The letters revealed that personal data could have been exposed to other applicants. This data included phone numbers, addresses, dates of birth, income and financial information, and social security numbers.

What’s In the Loan Program?

The Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (EIDL) offers up to $10,000 to owners currently struggling with their businesses due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

A Trump administration official described the issue to CNBC saying that an error occurred when some owners would hit the back button on a page they would see the information of someone else’s businesses rather than their own.

How Did The SBA Find Out?

According to reports by the Washington Post, the SBA was initially silent on the duration of the breach or about details of its discovery. Businesses that may have been affected were notified by the SBA and offered one free year of credit monitoring.

The Agency said it discovered the vulnerability on March 25 and notified those affected with letters. A copy of the letter was posted by a victim after the breach. The letter itself mentioned that there is no sign of data misuse as of last week.

What’s The SBA’s Track Record?

Business owners have had issues with the disaster loan website before. The site was taken down for maintenance for several hours on March 16, and owners could not apply during that time. On March 29, the SBA revised its application process for the disaster loans and owners had to reapply. Many learned days or weeks later that they needed to reapply.

Business owners experienced issues with the loan website previously. In fact, the site was taken down for maintenance for hours on March 16. This meant owners couldn’t apply for a loan in that time. About two weeks later on March 29, the SBA updated the application process for the loans and owners were required to reapply.

How Much Money Was Allocated?

As of April 19, SBA had approved almost 27,000 EIDL loans valued at $5.6 billion. Another 755,000 businesses received EIDL grants worth a total of $3.3 billion. The Trump administration official told CNBC that 4 million business owners had applied for assistance worth $383 billion—far more than the $17 billion allocated for the program.

Even before the breach the agency website was strained by a flood of applications for the loan that overburdened funding, keeping businesses waiting for weeks to receive money.

Before the COVID-19 crisis small businesses should have been eligible for up to $2 million in disaster loans. Unfortunately, because millions of companies are now seeking assistance,  the SBA had to limit the loans to the previously mentioned $10,000

What are the Risks Now That There Was a Breach?

That being said, the SBA approved nearly 27,000 EIDL loans since April 19. However, the breach raises a problem for anyone looking to exploit personal information on the website for social engineering scams. IBM Securities published research revealing it had seen a 6000% increase in email campaigns impersonating the SMB.

For more information on cyber security, cloud, remote work and more, visit Nerds Support’s blog.

 

Financial firms use finacial cloud computing to remain competitive

How Financial Firms Can Digitize & Stay Competitive

Financial organizations are using financial cloud computing technologies to remain competitive as new research reveals banking and finance are becoming more dependent on emerging technology.  

In the old days, the cloud technology was adopted by small start-ups who didn’t have legacy architecture in place or the resources necessary to develop their own onsite IT. Now, larger institutions are moving to the cloud as well. Financial cloud computing stems from the growth of modern cloud providers. They have better security, compliance controls and privacy features. Furthermore, a modern cloud provider can automate many of the manual tasks that could put companies at risk if done improperly. Companies use the cloud to meet compliance and cybersecurity standards.
Although transition to the cloud requires upfront investment, for many financial firms the change means more than cutting costs.

Changing Demographic & Tech

56 million Millennials (ages 23-37) were working or looking for work in 2017, according to the PEW research center, making them the largest portion of the U.S. labor force. This means millennials are becoming the largest drivers of the economy. Millennials are on average more technologically savvy than the previous generations and have driven growth towards a more digital economy.

Banks and other financial institutions must adapt to account for this new trend. Digital banking users have increased from 26% to 51% between the years 2012 and 2017, according to the U.S. Federal Reserve. Consumers are banking digitally, meaning through desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones.

82% of consumers ages 18-24 were using mobile banking platforms in 2017, indicating a shift towards a more personalized banking experience. They also want to sign up for banking services without needing to visit a physical branch.  

Valued Digital Financial Banking Features Statistics

The Rise of Mobile Banking

Based on a 2018 survey, PwC, a professional services firm, found that mobile users grew from 10% in 2017 to 15% in 2018. This means mobile banking is becoming more popular as time passes. Taking all of these statistics into account, banks should adjust their priorities towards increasing and personalizing digital banking services. There is growing competitive pressure coming from companies like Alibaba and financial startups to go digital in terms of how companies should function and engage with customers.The goal is to make banking services available to people in remote locations where they may others be unable to access local branches.

Digitalization 

Digitalization is also far less expensive than banking in a traditional brick-and-mortar branch. PwC ‘s report titled  Bank of the future: Finding the right path to digital transformation, mentions how some banks create full on digital native banks that use completely digital customer interface and back end.

The report also says, that branch transactions cost about $4 each, while online and mobile transactions cost $0.09 and mobile transactions cost $0.19. Automation is the biggest channel in terms of growth for many businesses across the board.

Going digital makes banks more agile as well. It allows them to quickly adapt to changing customer trends and tastes. Going digital will provide for a testing ground for new services and products where a bank would otherwise have to commit to a strategy and hope it’s successful.

Financial Cloud Computing 

It’s possible to use modern IT infrastructure to set up a digital bank using third party architecture, also known as cloud services or cloud computing. In other words, one can set up an entirely digital bank without the need for internal IT, which would be a huge financial barrier. Instead, one may outsource hardware, software and maintenance to a cloud provider, further decreasing costs and risks.

The true benefits of the cloud appear as teams use these features to operate in more dynamic, agile and efficient ways. The cloud uses virtual machines, digital computers to share and distribute new projects across platforms and devices.

The main reasons companies are adopting the cloud are to improve mobile access and collaboration. Collaboration services improve workplace efficiency, communication and overall improves their bottom line. Companies that migrated to the cloud experienced a 19.3 percent faster growth than those who hadn’t.

Furthermore, the average financial services firm uses 1,004 different cloud services, according to a study by Skyhigh. The survey was performed for 3.7 million finance employees across more than 14,000 cloud services. The report was anonymous and tracked the usage data of bank employees, insurance companies, investment firms etc. Also, the fastest growing cloud service category in the industry is collaboration. This included programs like Microsoft office, Gmail and Evernote.

Security & Compliance: IT Solutions for Finance

While this might sound exciting it means nothing in such a heavily regulated industry as finance. Less than 0.1 percent of financial firms using the cloud meet compliance requirements and security standards. IT solutions for financial institutions are subject to human error as it is. But many cloud providers lack the experience and expertise to help manage highly sensitive data financial institutions must keep secure for their clients. Choosing the wrong provider could mean failure to comply with PCI DSS, SOX, and GBLA standards. This means looking for a provider that specializes in high-end security that complies with these governmental regulations with extreme care. A cloud provider that you can trust, means a firm your clients can trust as well.

A secure cloud means not only compliance, but proactive preventative IT solutions for financial firms specifically. Even secure cloud services pose a risk. A hacker can gain access to data stored in the cloud using login credentials obtained through targeted social engineering or malware. It’s a common practice for users to rely on same passwords with multiple online accounts. 31 percent of people reuse the same passwords, according to a University of Cambridge study.

Multi-factor Authentication

A hacker could gain access to an employees Instagram or twitter account and those to login to other cloud accounts. Look for a cloud service with multi-factor authentication, this decreases the likelihood of this happening. For example, with a multi-factor authentication process, even if your passwords were obtained, the employee would receive a notification on their mobile device requesting authorization. If authorization isn’t given through the device, the user cannot gain access.

Some cloud services providers, like Nerds Support, use programs that require users to change their passwords every month, further decreasing the chances of a breach. The same Cambridge study also revealed users rely on the same 20 unsecured passwords as login credentials. Changing passwords periodically will force the user to create new and distinct login credentials. Highly trained systems engineers could provide further insight into crafting intricate passwords that are inaccessible to anyone except the user.

 

Nerds Support has 17+ years of experience helping financial institutions digitalize while meeting important IT compliance.

Do What’s Best for Your Firm

 It’s important to understand that digitizing everything is not necessarily the best option. Each bank is different and has different strengths and core capabilities. You might not be in a place to fully digital overhaul.

In order to succeed in digitizing where others fail is to define and evaluate your long term strategy. PwC suggests you consider the questions:

  •  What do we want to be known for?

  • What consumer segments are we targeting?

  • What are our core capabilities and how can a digital strategy strengthen them?

Many industries are also on the way towards digitization in order to appeal to the Millennial and Gen -Z that’s following behind. This also means that adopting a digital infrastructure is going to be pivotal in business-to-business (B2B) interactions.

Having outdated or incompatible business models may become a deterrent to industries you want to service and conversely, an updated, innovative structure may appeal to start-ups or bigger companies that are looking to change and want to work with work with institutions that they feel will help them achieve their goals.

Contact Nerds Support today for a complimentary IT assessment where we identify gaps and areas of opportunities in your IT infrastructure.

Transform your team into an agile, lean, modern work environment with Nerds Support’s IT Solutions.