They say that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. That is an especially apt analogy when it comes to cybersecurity in the independent wealth management industry.

If you're an RIA or independent broker-dealer, you know this challenge well. Securing client data is an ever more complex challenge, and one vulnerability is all it takes for a savvy cybercriminal to gain access to it.

This problem, in part, is born of our industry’s tendency to narrowly focus on one facet of cybersecurity while ignoring virtually all others. Indeed, you can invest millions in shoring up one defense, and it will mean little if bad actors find a back door somewhere else.

That's why it's imperative to have comprehensive, end-to-end risk-assessment policies in place, along with procedures that provide enhanced protections for your entire network. That includes all connected computers, devices and peripherals, as well as every user and outside provider with access.

By doing a whole-network risk assessment that quantifies and ranks every vulnerability, firms will be able not only to identify vulnerabilities but to prioritize which weaknesses create the most immediate business risks and should be addressed first.

A risk-based approach is critical because it enables the most efficient, expedient deployment of time and resources towards closing your business’ cybersecurity gaps.

Network Infrastructure, Including Connected Peripherals

Servers and other IT infrastructure demand protection. That's a given. But it's equally important to assess the potential vulnerabilities across the broader network, including any networked peripherals such as cameras, printers and smart speakers like Amazon Echo or Google Home.

A good starting point is to take a complete inventory of all hardware components, which should reveal if there are any unauthorized devices on your network. From there, review each one using a risk-based assessment. The essential question every firm should ask themselves in these situations is whether providing access to a device/tool provides enough of a benefit to offset the potential risks.

Computers And Devices

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