Cybersecurity top of mind for investment advisors

Cybersecurity top of mind for investment advisors

What’s keeping today’s investment advisors up at night? Cybersecurity issues. That was one of the takeaways at the Charles Schwab IMPACT 2015 confab in Boston this week, where 1,800 advisors in attendance were offered at least a half-dozen education sessions devoted to online crime and fraud and how to combat it.

The attention turned out to be particularly timely, with IMPACT kicking off Tuesday just as news broke of federal indictments against three men accused of stealing data from 100 million people last year in one of the biggest cybercrimes on record.

Not surprisingly, “cybersecurity has become the No. 1 topic” in the financial industry, said Michelle Thetford, vice president of client strategic solutions at Charles Schwab Advisor Services. Indeed, JPMorgan Chase & Co. — a major victim in that cybercrime case — reportedly upped its cybersecurity spending budget to $500 million for 2015. Research firm Gartner predicts global spending on cybersecurity technology will reach $75.4 billion this year.

Such spending is warranted in combating a type of crime that occurs literally at the speed of light, say experts. Cybercrime “is much faster than the normal threat we’re used to seeing,” said Greg Ruppert, vice president and head of Schwab’s Financial Crimes Investigations division, describing cybersecurity as “13 letters, two words — and infinite fear.”

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