tech talk
going virtual: staying secure in the cyber world amidst a pandemic
Over the past six months, everyone — in every industry — has spent significantly more time interacting digitally. As we’ve traded long commutes for short walks down the hall and exchanged conference room meetings for Zoom calls, we’ve embraced extended connectivity in our homes. In so doing, we may also have unwittingly opened our networks and devices to cybersecurity threats. Every time we use a connected device such as a laptop, tablet, or mobile phone, we risk interference by ill-intended hackers seeking access to our bank accounts, our personal data, or our confidential company information. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic,
the U.S. FBI has seen a 300% increase in reported cybercrimes
. When we, as a nation, collectively moved to work from home, we took our office networks with us — and the hackers followed. The threat of cybercrime won’t deter us from using our essential devices, but it should prompt us all to be more alert and aware of how we can protect ourselves.
October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCASM). This year, the month’s theme is “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart,” which stresses the importance of personal accountability and the need to be proactive when it comes to cybersecurity. Cybersecurity is also a major priority for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Combatting cybersecurity threats comes with a staggering price tag: according to global cybersecurity education and training firm Cybint, global cybersecurity costs will rise to $6 trillion by 2021. The vast majority — 95% — of cybersecurity breaches are due to human error,
according to a study by IBM
. That means that in 95% of cases, we can take action to keep ourselves and our data secure. The good news: many of the steps that are most effective in thwarting cybercriminals are simple and can be an easy addition to a daily routine.
personal security: strategies for safeguarding wealth & family
We all take measures in our daily lives to help ensure the safety and security of our home, wealth, and family. As more and more aspects of our personal lives are conducted online, the danger of falling prey to cybercriminals and identity thieves is a particular threat that must be guarded against. Consider some best practices you can adopt: 
Make yourself a difficult target for cybercriminals.
Cybercriminals devise schemes to access log-in credentials to your financial accounts, your email, and/or your mobile phone. The most effective strategy for keeping them out is to lock down the most common entry points. Consider using strong and unique passwords, two-factor authentication, and alerts on your accounts.
2. Your Digital Footprint.
Online personal information can invite unwanted attention—make sure you know what’s “out there” about you and your family. Take advantage of security settings, be selective about what information you share, and be aware of what’s out there on public sites. 
3. Protect Loved Ones from Elder Scams.
Unfortunately, one of the fastest-growing areas of fraud is the exploitation of our senior population and those with some form of diminished capacity/dementia. Extra vigilance in monitoring financial accounts within this demographic is highly recommended, especially after the loss of a spouse.
4. Keep Your Home Secure.
Most of us take common-sense measures for emergency preparedness but a systematic approach to securing your home—being ready for unplanned events, break-ins, or natural disasters, and taking steps to minimize loss—can help protect your family, property, and personal information.
5. Properly Vet People with Access.
Many employ professional service providers to help with household tasks. But anyone with the keys to your home has potential access to your possessions and/or personal information, consider carefully vetting providers prior to hiring.
6. Travel Safely.
While many travel plans have been altered in our current environment, if you are journeying be prepared for issues that may arise while traveling, such as unplanned events or a medical issues.

Adopting a comprehensive personal security strategy is not as complicated as you may think. For additional information and resources, please visit our website or contact your Fidelity representative.
The content provided herein is general in nature and is for informational purposes only. This information is not individualized and is not intended to serve as the primary or sole basis for your decisions as there may be other factors you should consider. Fidelity InstitutionalSM does not provide financial or investment advice. You should conduct your own due diligence and analysis based on your specific needs Fidelity InstitutionalSM provides investment products through Fidelity Distributors Company LLC; clearing, custody, or other brokerage services through National Financial Services LLC or Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC Members NYSE, SIPC; and institutional advisory services through Fidelity Institutional Wealth Adviser LLC. © 2020 FMR LLC. All rights reserved. 942136.2.0
Want to learn more about cyber security?
The DHS has published a roundup of these essential steps for securing your home and your business. They include:
Multi-Factor Authentication
which doubles your protection when logging into your devices

WiFi Safety
which stresses the importance of browsing the Internet only when you have a secure connection
App Security
which encourages awareness of suspicious apps that could be gathering your personal information without your knowledge
Oversharing and Geotagging
which explains the perils of posting location data and other sensitive information on the Internet

which discourages clicking on or responding to suspicious emails
which encourages the use of multiple, hard-to-hack passwords (or a secure password manager)
Device Protection
which stresses the need to enable automatic updates to defend against new risks and to protect all your devices with antivirus software

Find more tips from DHS

We Have You Covered
These simple steps are front-of-mind for
Sarah Khan
. As Chief Information Security Officer at Hightower, it’s her job to #BeCyberSmart — and to secure hundreds of devices and networks at the company’s Chicago headquarters and across Hightower’s 100-plus advisory businesses throughout the United States. Sarah intimately understands that cybersecurity vulnerabilities are everywhere, including at Hightower. “Most of the engagement is between the advisor and the client, but the corporate staff members are also involved, because they perform tasks on behalf of the advisors — and they often need elevated privileges to do that work,” she explains. To ensure the security of every engagement, Sarah spends all day, every day outsmarting hackers and devising the best ways to keep Hightower advisors and clients secure. Amid an environment of heightened risk, Sarah has led her team to respond with commensurate awareness and proactivity. The Hightower security team utilizes several layers of security on all computers, mobile phones, and networks. This includes critical protective measures like anti-virus management, weekly operating system patches, hard drive encryption, and rigorous VPN protocols when connecting from outside the company.
Communication Is Key
While Hightower can’t control what people do in their own homes, it does provide advisors with extensive training to make them more aware of potential vulnerabilities. According to Sarah, this training is designed to help advisors maintain safe and secure communications with their clients. For example, Hightower instructs advisors to use the phone number on file when returning a client call rather than a different number that may have been left on a message. This protects both Hightower and its clients from the most common form of hacking: telephone scams. Clients, too, should enact this practice when communicating with their advisors. As we move forward in an increasingly connected world, every month may effectively become Cyber Security Awareness Month. At Hightower, we’re committed to keeping you and your data safe and sound. Just ask Sarah — who stands ready to protect the needs of Hightower advisors and their clients from any threat that might be waiting.
the well-th report