Time to secure our emails

In February I wrote about the growing awareness of cybercrime targeting the financial services and the industry’s need – and I would say duty – to help protect consumers and businesses against this invidious problem which has been growing year-on-year. Little did we know at that point what was coming down the line.

The current crisis in which we find ourselves – with the public fearful of the pandemic and businesses having to enable staff to work from home – have made both even more vulnerable to cybercrime. Cybercriminals are playing on not only people’s fears around the Covid-19 pandemic but also the unprecedented need for staff to work from home, stretching companies’ communications channels and security systems.

Regulators, including the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and The Pensions Regulator (TPR), have issued warning statements on cybercrime and scams, a clear indicator of the seriousness with which they take this issue and the extent to which it is a problem – see FCA: https://www.fca.org.uk/news/news-stories/avoid-coronavirus-scams/.

Incidences of scams, like phishing and ‘smishing’ – i.e. when criminals use emails or text messages to impersonate individuals or organisations to trick people into giving away their personal and financial information or money – are reported to have increased notably over the past few weeks as the Coronavirus has taken hold.

At the same time, the need for data and information, including that of a personal and confidential nature, to move outside of companies’ security systems, has increased the risks for businesses, including that their communications will be intercepted.

For the financial services industry, this risk has been exacerbated by the end of the tax year and the need to meet tax and investment planning deadlines, which has meant advice firms have needed to get client requests and information to platforms and providers in the most expedient way.

As you might expect, most communications are by email, particularly between adviser and client, because that is the most familiar, fastest and easiest channel to use.

As mentioned in my article in February, working with leading cyber security specialist Beyond Encryption, we have developed and launched a new encrypted email solution for the financial services industry, in particular aimed at protecting the communications between product providers, platforms, advisers and end clients.

So, to help financial advisers secure their email communications during the crisis, we’re providing two months free use of the Unipass Mailock premium service for our Unipass identity service users in advice firms. To take advantage of this, users simply enter a voucher code (‘2monthsfree’ via www.unipassmailock.com/) to get access and there is no automatic renewal and no payment information required to get started.

It is our way of helping the industry to tackle this particular issue which has been magnified by the current unprecedented crisis we are all experiencing.

I would add that in an industry where transmission of data is key, and emails are the primary communication channel and will remain so for the foreseeable future, now, more than ever, it is time to secure our emails.