Data security lessons to take away from the Facebook hearings

April 13, 2018 by Matt Marcum

The U.S. capitol building to represent where the Facebook hearings about cybersecurity happened

about the author:

Matt Marcum

Sales enablement lead

Matt is a 2009 graduate of the University of Michigan and has worked in multiple roles at Advicent. He loves talking about financial planning and the value it brings both to advisors and to their clients. When not discussing FinTech trends with advisors, he enjoys spending his time outdoors with his wife and their dog.

Despite the rapid velocity at which the news cycle is moving in 2018, it has been hard to miss the media uproar surrounding Facebook and how it allowed consumer data to be used and shared by third parties. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spent multiple days fielding questions about cybersecurity from members of the house and senate, and here are some lessons to take away from those questions.

There is still a lack of knowledge about cybersecurity

First — and most obvious — it is time to take data security more seriously. While listening to the hearings, I could not help but notice how lost many of the senators seemed with their line of questioning. The average age of a U.S. senator is currently 61 years old, so asking them to question the CEO of a leading international tech company always held the possibility for disconnect. The questions seemed to unravel shortly after the first prepared statement from each senator, exposing an aging demographic that came across as out of touch with current technology and cybersecurity trends.

Why does this matter? Well, the average U.S. senator closely matches the demographics of many wealth management clients. Baby Boomers were not born in the era of the Internet like Millennials, and they have not been as quick to adapt to technology as Generation X. This means that there is a knowledge gap and plenty of opportunity for advisors to inform their client base on how best to approach the cybersecurity of their private financial information.

Social media is here to stay

The second lesson to take away is that social media platforms are not going away. During the first day of Zuckerberg’s testimony — while he was supposedly under the full scrutiny of the senate — Facebook stock prices actually increased by 4.5 percent.

This signals two things: First, the market noticed that regulators presumably did not fully understand the business or how it made money. Second, there still has not been a large rush of consumers deleting their social media accounts despite the increased scrutiny. In fact, the increased scrutiny around Facebook data usage may have educated consumers that they are not the customers of Facebook; instead, they are the product.

You must evaluate the cybersecurity of your technology vendors

Finally, the last lesson to take away is the importance of selecting secure technology vendors when accessing your or your clients' data online. So far, this article has focused largely on social media; however, as more of your financial data is pushed online, the need for best-in-class security around that data has never been more important.

Advicent is compliant with the internationally-recognized standard of excellence for information security, the ISO/IEC 27001:2005 Code of Practice for Information Security Management Systems (ISMS). This verifies that Advicent has successfully implemented an ISMS that provides a solid framework for initiating, implementing, maintaining, and managing information security within the organization; therefore, our partners can rest easy that your client data is protected by the highest level of physical security.

It is imperative in today’s increasingly digital world that financial services firms and advisors thoroughly investigate their technology providers’ ISMS and cybersecurity protocols to ensure the safety of their clients’ data. When you provide online services to your clients, you need to make sure that your technology vendor is as serious about your data’s security as you are.

To learn more about how Advicent technology helps keep your client data safe, click here.