Most Financial Advisors’ Work-From-Home Technology Fails OS33 Security Test

Click here to find out more about the Here-To-Help campaign and to run the diagnostic check on your devices.

Since the pandemic hit at the end of the first quarter of 2020, many financial advisors, like other professionals, are now working from home. Unlike many other professionals, however, financial advisors must safeguard highly private and sensitive data on a daily basis.

We at OS33 found the question that now goes all-too-often unasked: with these new residential work arrangements, have advisors increased the exposure of their client data to cyberthreats?

The answer, according to the data we collected, is a firm yes. And this is a red flag for the financial services industry.

Let’s first start with the “why.” The reason for the increased exposure is that in our COVID environment, financial professionals work from home with a wide variety of devices in place of their normal, in-office technology. The advisors are, to be blunt, ill-prepared from a security standpoint and are increasing the exposure of private client data to the outside world and more importantly, to cyber attacks.

OS33 recognized an opportunity to help financial firms and their agents discover these increased vulnerabilities. Soon after the pandemic hit, OS33 introduced its “Here-to-Help” campaign, which provides financial advisors free use of its Workplace device and security check software. A scan of devices reveals if advisors and their firms are meeting FINRA’s compliance recommendations.

This OS33 diagnostic tool is simple to download and install. It tests if devices and systems are protecting twelve security and compliance points as outlined in an alert from brokerage industry regulator FINRA in March of 2020. This alert was issued once COVID-19 dramatically changed the way professionals work.

OS33 engineers developed the software agent very quickly. Morley Ivers, President of OS33, explained that the leadership team realized, soon after the FINRA alert, that advisors and agents would have difficulty recognizing or identifying specific technology device weaknesses themselves, and needed a diagnostic tool to help them understand any vulnerabilities.

As OS33’s Workplace software has been identifying these types of weaknesses for years, it was a natural fit to develop a process to help firms, and their independent advisors, identify any security lapses as well as adhere to remote device security protocols.

The Here-to-Help campaign has been very successful since its launch. Hundreds of advisors from a wide range of RIA and IBDs have utilized the application.

And the results? Only 15% of firms passed all 12 checks, and half the advisors failed two checks. The most common failings are lack of hard disk encryption, operating systems missing the latest patches, and antivirus and malware software that is not fully updated.

The findings reveal that, even as the impact of the COVID-19 continues to unfold and much uncertainty remains, we do know for certain that as an industry we must continue to stay vigilant against cyber criminals and take every precaution to safeguard sensitive customer information while we continue to work remotely during this very difficult and challenging time.

The process to download and install is simple and free for every advisor. Within seconds of running the diagnostic, you will receive the compliance status of your device along with the ability to resolve issues.

Click here to get started from the device you would like to scan. 

To find out more about our Workplace solution, click here.

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