Cyber security: Safeguarding high-net-worth individuals’ digital fortunes, privacy and reputation

Leading investigation, cyber and security company Valkyrie shares crucial insights on safeguarding our digital assets ahead of Safer Internet Day

Cyber securityIn an era dominated by digital advancements, high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) find themselves at an elevated risk of cyber threats, given their substantial wealth and access to sensitive information. The shift of these threats to the online realm not only poses financial risks but also the potential for reputational damage and legal consequences. Despite warnings, a considerable number in this demographic still underestimate the need for tailored cyber security measures.

Notable cases, such as the 2019 hacking of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and the 2017 identity theft of former AIG CEO Maurice R Greenberg, underscore the severe impacts of cyber-attacks on HNWIs.Cyber securityCHALLENGES FOR HNW IN THE DIGITAL ERA

In the digital age, HNWIs face an array of risks, including account takeover, social engineering, ransomware, extortion and identity theft for financial fraud. The UK alone reported an annual estimate of £27bn in cybercrime, with two out of five businesses falling victim to cyber-attacks in 2017. HNWIs, perceived as lucrative targets by cyber criminals, often hesitate to report incidents due to fear or embarrassment.

Exploiting the public status and lifestyle choices of HNWIs, cyber criminals utilise tactics like “social engineering” to extract personal information from digital footprints and social media. As digital wealth accumulation rises, implementing robust cyber security measures becomes imperative. The heightened visibility of HNWIs online increases the risk of spear-phishing attacks, necessitating the verification of suspicious emails through direct communication.

The absence of centralisation in wealth management teams creates vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit. Instituting a “trust but verify” process, cross-verifying approvals, and maintaining transparency regarding asset locations become pivotal steps to fortify cyber security. Ransomware is a significant risk for HNWIs, who also face threats such as phishing scams, social engineering, and wireless spoofing. These threats aim to compromise sensitive information, leading to financial losses, disruptions to personal and professional matters, reputation damage, and legal liabilities.KEY ADVICE FOR HNWIS FROM VALKYRIE

Combining these measures can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to cyber threats and enhance our overall cybersecurity posture.

Implement multi-factor authentication (MFA): Enforce MFA across all online accounts using biometrics, PINs, and one-time passcodes to add an extra layer of security beyond passwords.

Regular security audits and updates: Regularly audit digital security infrastructure to identify and patch vulnerabilities. Keep software, operating systems, and applications current to mitigate the risk of known exploits.

Secure communication channels: Use encrypted communication channels for sensitive financial communications to protect against eavesdropping and interception.

Engage in cyber security education: Invest time and resources in educating oneself and staff about the latest cyber security threats and best practices to recognise and thwart cyber-attacks.

Protect physical devices: Secure laptops, smartphones and external drives with strong passwords, biometric authentication, and encryption. Avoid leaving devices unattended in public spaces to prevent physical theft.

Manage your online profile: Actively manage your online status, develop relevant assets and curate a favourable profile to balance anonymity and visibility. Review and adjust privacy settings on specific social media platforms to limit the amount of personal information visible to the public. Be cautious about sharing travel plans and other details that could be exploited by malicious actors.Artificial Intelligence (AI): Monitor for AI-generated inaccuracies and adopt a proactive approach towards reputation management to control potential damage.

Establish clear guidelines: Set clear guidelines for family members’ social media usage to fortify defences against social engineering. Constant vigilance is crucial to maintaining robust security.

Legal and insurance support: Work with legal and insurance professionals to ensure plans are in place for responding to cyber incidents. This may include cyber insurance coverage and legal support in the event of a breach.

Personalised threat intelligence: Consider enlisting the services of a cyber security firm that specialises in threat intelligence. Here at Valkyrie, we can help in identifying and mitigating specific threats targeting HNWIs.

While the digital age presents unprecedented opportunities for wealth creation, it also introduces new challenges in the form of cybersecurity threats. HNWIs must prioritise tailored cybersecurity measures to build a robust defence against cyber adversaries and safeguard their financial legacies. 

Valkyrie, with our multi-tier solution explicitly designed for HNWIs, including personal information removal, open and dark web monitoring and a comprehensive digital security concierge package, aims to reduce digital footprints, identify threats, and provide round-the-clock access to digital security experts.

Gurpreet Thathy is director of cyber security and electronic countermeasures at security specialist Valkyrie

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