TRUST & ESTATE PLANNING

Cybersecurity During COVID-19: Keeping Your Information Safe

10.06.2020 - Rod Sayegh

When the coronavirus pandemic broke out earlier this year, working from home became the new normal. Virtual communication and collaboration skyrocketed, and Zoom became a household name.

And as quickly as the virus spread, criminals started taking advantage of the situation. They create legitimate-looking emails to steal your identity known as “phishing,” and emails that appear to come from an individual or business you are familiar with, known as “spear-phishing. The telephone equivalent of these tactics is known as “vishing.” 

Practicing Email Safety

To avoid becoming a victim of cyberfraud, start by following a few simple guidelines.

First, never include any personal information in an email that you wouldn’t be comfortable putting on the back of a postcard and dropping in a mailbox. Ask yourself: Does this person really need the information they’re asking for to do their job properly? Then examine the email carefully before downloading attachments or clicking on any links.

If something doesn’t seem quite right, and you know the sender personally, the safest course of action is to contact the sender via phone or a separate email (do not respond to the email) to verify its legitimacy. If the sender is a business and the email, looks suspicious, you can ignore it, delete it, or open a separate browser window or tab to visit a website directly.

Identifying Red Flags

Here are a few warning signs to look for when receiving emails:

  • Unusual greetings, misspelled words and improper grammar. Phishing emails often originate from foreign countries, so the improper use of English is common.
  • Threatening or intimidating language demanding that you respond immediately. Attempts to scare and intimidate recipients are common tactics used by phishers. If something is seriously wrong, a company would not contact you via email.
  • Links to a website that do not appear to be affiliated with the sender. You can hover your mouse over the link to see its true origin without opening it.
  • Messages asking for financial information. A legitimate business will not ask for this by email.

As a precautionary measure, it is often worthwhile to sign up for a credit monitoring service such as Experian, TransUnion or Equifax. These services alert you whenever someone asks for your credit history, applies for a loan or tries to open a credit card in your name. There are also a number of services that provide identity theft protection services, such as LifeLock and others. These services can help protect you from fraud and regain control of your finances if you do become a victim of identity theft. More information is available at IdentityTheft.gov.

 

How We Protect Your Information

Our parent company, Franklin Templeton, monitors emails 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to help prevent anyone from stealing your private information. Franklin Templeton uses a comprehensive “defense-in-depth” approach to cybersecurity, which includes multiple layers of data protection software and hardware to essentially build bigger walls and wider moats around your personal data.

We also train all employees on how to safely transmit and store sensitive data. Whenever we send you an email, we use sophisticated encryption technologies to transmit information that only the sender and recipient can read. Encryption is a standard security measure that has proven effective at protecting our outgoing communications and keeping your private information private. If you ever have any doubt that an email is actually from us, please call your advisor to verify it. If the phone number provided in the email doesn’t look familiar, be sure to instead use the number you have on file for your advisor.

At Fiduciary Trust, we are also developing technologies that eliminate the need to use email or regular mail channels to share information with you. And, we store all your private information in our own computer systems, using state-of-the-art databases, which are used by national and international corporations around the world. All forms of electronic communications are protected by firewalls on our systems as well as the systems used by Franklin Templeton.

What to Look for From Your Advisors

Of course, cybersecurity is only successful when you cover all the bases. Ask all of your advisors to explain how they are storing, processing and sharing your information. If their responses are highly technical, vague, or difficult to understand, your Fiduciary Trust representative can often translate them into plain English for you. We can also work directly with your outside advisors to ensure your information is being handled safely and we are all moving in the same direction toward your goals.

 

 


This communication is intended solely to provide general information. The information and opinions stated may change without notice. The information and opinions do not represent a complete analysis of every material fact. Statements of fact have been obtained from sources deemed reliable, but no representation is made as to their completeness or accuracy. The opinions expressed are not intended as individual investment, tax or estate planning advice or as a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. Please consult your personal advisor to determine whether this information may be appropriate for you. This information is provided solely for insight into our general management philosophy and process. Historical performance does not guarantee future results and results may differ over future time periods.

CFA® and Chartered Financial Analyst® are trademarks owned by CFA institute.

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