How HNWIs are taking cyber security to the next level

published on november 21, 2020


Being an expert in your field, an innovator, or a leader must be great. You’re at the top of your sector, raking in the big bucks and being able to focus on the much bigger issues that come with being the best in your business. We might be exaggerating a little bit, but High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) do have lots on their plates, including cyber security. Unfortunately, being a HNWI makes you somewhat of a target for cyber criminals hoping for a big payday, so HNWIs, and their teams of cyber security professionals, have been fighting back.

HNWIs are a target for two main reasons, their wealth and their power. Their wealth is an enticing target for cyber attackers looking to get access to bank accounts or any other cyber-criminal tempted to execute a ransomware attack and demand a pay-out. The other factor that makes them a target is their high profiles. As we saw with the recent Twitter cyber-attack, cyber criminals are always looking for some attention or publicity. So being a recognisable face online is unfortunately all the more reason to update and upgrade your cyber security.

Additionally, given that around 50% of high-net-worth family wealth is managed by family offices, these may also be a viable target that HNWIs must protect. These offices are particularly vulnerable as they are usually set up by the previous generation to provide for following generations, meaning their IT infrastructure and cyber security may well be out of date and in serious need of an upgrade. In fact, a Citi Private Bank report suggested that 40% of family offices don’t even have a dedicated cyber security policy in place, even though they hold the same amount of value as a medium sized business.

The large majority of HNWIs have cottoned on to this idea, and being the clever bunch that they are, have taken it straight to the next level. Many have begun to identify and address the parts of their businesses and lives that bring with them the greatest risk. In cyber security for HNWIs, an added wrinkle is that much of the individuals’ and their families’ personal actions must be taken into account. While the child of any professional tweeting that their parents are off on the town and that they’re bored at home usually isn’t particularly risky, if it’s the child of a HNWI, that information can easily be used by cyber criminals, or even regular criminals, to devastating effect.

This same risk is at its most potent when it comes to email, the holy grail for any phishing operation. Even the email of a not-particularly-well-liked relative can then be leveraged by a skilled cyber-criminal into access into the funds of a HNWI and their family. In these particular cases, HNWIs have also been making good use of services such as Close Digital Protection to minimise their risk, avoiding public networks in airports, reducing links between personal and business accounts and data management.

Looking towards the future, cyber security experts have been experimenting with secure servers, honeypots, and improving security in transport. It might sound very caveman but moving the location of your email servers to a distant but secure location can be a simple but savvy way to deter cyber criminals. Honeypots are decoy accounts set up by cyber security firms to divert attention from any real accounts. It also allows teams to gather vital information on the types of attackers and the types of attacks they need to be preparing for with the real thing. Transport remains one of the most vulnerable areas of HNWI cyber security, the number of devices that operate on unsecured networks on a yacht, plane or even new cars brings massive risk. Especially with the types of data being transmitted, location, speed, destination, and others, cyber security professionals have been working to secure these data points and make sure there are no leaks.

At the end of the day, the actual risks that High Net Worth Individuals face aren’t too different from those the rest of us have to deal with. It’s the stakes that are much, much higher. Those raised stakes have led to a quasi-arms race between HNWIs and cyber criminals, with HNWIs always looking for new ways to bolster their defences and criminals looking for novel ways to break them down. Thanks to the hard work of all the talented people in the cyber security sector, HNWIs and their families remain well protected from cyber-attacks, but those same experts are never content to rest on their laurels.

To find out about getting a free CDP risk assessment, contact our team at:

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