Raining Frogs…

Nate Porter | Chief Operating Officer

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…and the Importance of Data Security


SoundView Advisors is a Wealth Management firm, but then again, you probably know that by this point. That term, ‘wealth management’ can mean a lot of things, depending on who you ask. Ultimately, it means that we don’t just focus on one thing, we take everything we can into account when it comes to getting a clear picture of how best to advise you.

Peace of mind. That’s what we bring, or try to, at least. We strive to ensure that when all is said and done, you and your family are going to be okay. We strive to ensure that you will be financially secure.

These days, a huge aspect of financial security is inextricably linked to the security of your financial data and personal information. To that end, last month I wrote an article detailing the great care we take in hiring new employees. This month, I want to shed light on some other ways that we not only keep information secure, but how we are able to keep working for you, even if, God forbid, disaster strikes.

For good or bad, all our work these days is done on good ol’ fashioned computers. At SoundView, we work on laptops, not desktops. This was a very intentional choice. For starters, this means we’re not tied to a physical location; we can work from anywhere. If, for example, a natural disaster (frogs raining from the sky? I don’t know.) befalls Olympia, or Seattle, or both(!), we can work from home, or California, or the space shuttle.

Bad idea! Laptops are easier to steal, Nate.

Good point, loyal reader, but every piece of computer equipment in the firm left on premises is securely stored and locked away every evening before an employee leaves work. Yes. Every night.

What if an employee takes the computer home with them, and THEN it gets stolen from them?

I’m glad you asked! Our laptops are impregnable. First off, each is encoded with industry-standard hard-disk encryption—it would take over 33,000 years for even the fastest computer to break into the system with a brute-force attack. Beyond that, we update our Windows passwords every 90 days in a constant rotation. Even if someone got through the encryption, they wouldn’t be able to log into the Operating System.

Ok, I got it. You’ve got a few security features, but…

I’m not through. Even if they could get into Windows, nothing lives on our hard drives. We do a systematic sweep of all documents every two weeks—just in case. To top it off, and most importantly, our firm’s applications and data are all accessed through an encrypted remotely-hosted secure cloud-based SEC compliant platform.

Oh, and yes, we update our passwords for that platform every 90 days as well. Lastly, all our systems can be remotely deactivated by our IT services provider. One call, the computer is locked down. It’s as simple as that.

Well, if everything you do is accessed through ONE portal … what if THAT goes down? What then, Mr. Smarty Pants?

Well, Know-It-All, that’s the best part—there’s not just one version of our infrastructure, there’s two! So even if the unthinkable happened, and an entire data-center in San Francisco fell into the Pacific, within minutes our systems would switch over to the mirrored version of our applications and data that live in St. Louis.

All kidding aside, when it comes to data security and the protection of your personal information, it’s people that make the difference. In truth, a firm’s systems are rarely “hacked.” Much more often, employees (typically management) are duped into giving away their passwords to scammers. To mitigate this scenario, we conduct cyber-security training for our staff and regularly send out examples of the latest phishing scams that we come across.

When an employee leaves our firm, their access and credentials to all applications are immediately pulled. Any potential areas where client or firm data might be found, they can no longer access. This process is simple, streamlined, and straightforward.

Peace of mind is valuable—no kidding, right? Which is why it doesn’t come cheap.

Your loyal COO,

Nate