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Category: Compliance · 4 min read

What it Really Means to Secure Your Email

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on June 25, 2019

author profile photo

on June 25, 2019

Man using his cell phone and laptop

There’s no disputing that there is value in meeting with your clients face-to-face. It’s not only a prerequisite for many carriers under the “know your customer” requirements, but it also allows you the opportunity to develop a relationship on a more personal level. Undoubtedly, you’ll also be connecting with your clients via email. It’s quick and effective and leaves a paper trail of your conversation—an easy and convenient addition for your client records. But have you given any thought to how safe your email really is?  

The Yahoo data breach in 2013 affected up to three billion accounts.1 The enormity of that breach brings into perspective how important it is to evaluate your email provider, your email habits, and the process you follow when exchanging personal information with your clients via email.  

Here are several steps you can take to help protect your email, along with options for alternatives for sharing information with your clients.  

 

Be Cautious of Free Email Services 

If you’re using a free service, it’s likely that you are the product, not your email. In order for some providers to make money, they use information gleaned from your emails (key words) to sell to advertisers—otherwise known as targeted advertising. This means that your email likely isn’t as secure as you might have believed it to be. It could be worth the additional cost to find a provider that has safeguards in place to protect your privacy.  

 

Remember to Log Out 

Log out of your email after each session. Leaving your email “open” could allow access by hackers searching open/unsecured networks. By logging out of your email, you’re essentially closing the door to a hacker’s access.  

Your email likely isn’t as secure as you might have believed it to be. It could be worth the additional cost to find a provider that has safeguards in place to protect your privacy.

Use a Strong Password 

Create complex passwords that are easy for you to remember but difficult to hack. Recommendations for a strong password include at least 12 characters, a mix of upper-case and lower-case letters, numbers, and unique characters. Reset your password periodically, or whenever you believe it may be compromised. Incorporating a multifactor authentication, when available, to confirm when passwords are changed is another way to help protect your account.   

 

Encrypt Your Emails 

Email encryption is a good way to help protect information by only permitting certain users access to emails. You should verify that your email provider allows you to send emails that are encrypted.   

 

Use a File-Sharing Service 

Don’t send documents via unencrypted email. Instead, consider using a file-sharing service that offers encrypted transmission for file sharing. These services allow you to securely share files with clients, without attaching large files to an email. The file is sent as an encrypted, secure link that can be downloaded by the client. Many of these services allow for a customer to securely send the file back to you via secure upload link. Make sure you do the research prior to enlisting the help of one of these providers to ensure they meet regulatory guidelines. 

 

Do the Research First 

It’s not uncommon for people to stay with their email service provider for years and years. With so much of our personal and business lives tied to email, it can seem daunting to make a change. Nonetheless, utilizing a service provider that has been around for decades doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s safer than a service that started up within the past few years. Take the time to research other providers. Compare the services of your current provider with newer services and research all the options, including security features, that both provide. It’s likely there will be pros and cons for both providers, but knowing the differences enables you to make an informed decision about whether your current email service is meeting all of your needs or if it might be time to make a change.  

Since each email provider is different, it’s also important that you check with your provider to ensure you’re implementing all the security features that are offered with their service. In addition, make sure you’re staying up to date on security updates to help keep your email safe.  

Remember, it’s not just your email that you need to be concerned about keeping secured, either. Consider creating and implementing a cybersecurity plan. It should cover all aspects of your business with steps to take in the event your information has been compromised. Having a plan to help keep your business secure is an important step in keeping your client information safe.

 

Source: 

1. Reints, Renae. “Yahoo Agrees to $50 Million Settlement for Those Affected by the 2013 Data Breach.” Fortune. Oct. 24, 2018. http://fortune.com/2018/10/24/yahoo-settlement-data-breach/  

 

This information is intended for Financial Professionals who are insurance licensed only. If you are securities licensed, please contact your Broker Dealer for their requirements. #19-0489-061720 

These educational pieces are intended to be informative and provide generalized guidance. They should not be construed as legal advice or provide protection against compliance violations brought on by a consumer or state insurance commission. It is the sole responsibility of the financial professional to seek compliance or legal direction specific to their individual situation. These pieces should be used to raise awareness and evaluate business practices.  

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Written By

Rocky Robbins

Vice President, Compliance

Rocky Robbins is the Vice President of Compliance at Brokers International. Over his more than 15 years of experience in the financial services industry, Rocky served in a variety of corporate legal and compliance positions. Rocky understands the complex regulatory environment that financial professionals must navigate, and strives to provide real-world solutions to help financial professionals reduce their risks.

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