Download Now – Spring 2017 Newsletter (PDF 611k)
CYBERSECURITY PROJECT AT HC FINANCIAL ADVISORS
In December 2016, Karla and Katie began a project to review the status of cybersecurity readiness at our firm. We continue to see and hear of increasingly sophisticated attempts by cyber-criminals to gain access to clients’ financial information. Many firms, including our own, have had cybersecurity attempted attacks. Un-like other firms where clients have lost money, all attempted attacks on us or our clients have been intercept-ed by either us or Charles Schwab. In light of these increased attempts, we have dedicated a significant amount of time con-ducting an in-depth cybersecurity assessment. In collaboration with a Schwab technology consultant, we identified controls we have in place, ones where we could add additional controls, and identified possible gaps
that might exist in our cybersecurity plans. The formal collaboration with Schwab concluded this month and we have an action plan to integrate and update moving forward. As the sophisticated methods used by cybercriminals continue to grow, cybersecurity will continue to be a high priority focus for the firm. Despite all the controls we add to our systems, however, we continue to learn that our clients can be one of our most important lines of defense against fraud. We have seen firsthand when a client is the victim of identity theft, their email is hacked, or a phishing attack occurs on their home computer. As a result, we would like to continue to share some of our findings with you this year in each of our quarterly newsletters.
The picture below outlines six areas of focus for protecting your data. We will review all six through-out the year, beginning with usernames and passwords and safe surfing practices in this newsletter.
Be Strategic with Usernames and Passwords
- Create passwords that are long and strong. They should be 8-12 characters and include upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. Consider the use of a password manager.
- Use a unique password for EACH account or website to prevent a quick and invasive attack on all your accounts, known as credential replay.
- Change your password often. (90 days is recommended)
- Always use two-factor authorization for log on, if available. Schwab and the HC Financial Portal incorporate two-factor authorization. If you have not enabled this on your Schwab online account, please consider doing so as soon as possible. When requested, Schwab will send you a security to-ken (aka random number generator) to use when logging into your accounts. This tool helps pre-vent hackers from gaining access to your accounts. Many email providers also provide two-factor authorization; we would highly recommend using it, whenever possible.
- Use a password that contains information that can easily be discovered about you online or other-wise (address, phone number, children’s names, birthdate, etc.)
- Share passwords with others
- Store passwords online
- Use any part of your Social Security number or personal data when creating passwords.
- Be extremely cautious when using public computers.
- Only use wireless networks that you trust and know for certain are protected. Almost all free public Wi-Fi hotspots are unprotected and a real danger to the safety of the information you transmit.
- Know that secure websites begin with “https://”. If you see “http://” (without the “s” at the end), the site is UNSECURED.
- Only download legitimate apps from trusted publishers.
- Log out of websites when finished to prevent cybercriminals from obtaining your data.
- Consider purchasing a Wi-Fi hotspot or use the hotspot on your cellphone in lieu of using public networks.
- Before you click on a link in an email or on a website, place your cursor over the link (without clicking) to see the true destination of where the click will take you. If you are at all unsure, do not click!
- Use public computers to access confidential information or accounts or to perform financial transactions. Wait until you are on a computer you know is secure.
- Click on website links you are not familiar with, did not request or did not expect to receive, or on pop-up ads or banners.
If you ever suspect suspicious activity with any of your accounts, please contact us or Schwab immediately. We both put a high priority on keeping your accounts safe and free from cyberattacks.
TAXES DUE APRIL 18TH?
We all know that taxes are due typically on April 15th, but this year we get a few extra days. Why? April 15th falls on a Saturday this year and normally, if tax day falls on the weekend, taxes are due the following business day. However, since the District of Columbia celebrates Emancipation Day on April 16th, which falls on a Sunday and is celebrated on Monday, April 17th, taxes are now due on Tuesday, April 18th. Enjoy the extra days this year preparing and sub-mitting your tax returns and/or extensions.
LONGER LIVES, HERE AND ABROAD
For years, the U.S. life expectancy was among the longest in the world, a natural byproduct of the fact that the U.S. is wealthier, per capita, than other nations. Indeed, a research report in the medical journal The Lancet projects that between now and 2030, women in the U.S. will live an average 83.3 years (up from 81.2 today) and men an average of 79.5 years (up from 76.5 today).
The report analyzed data on mortality and longevity patterns from 35 industrialized nations, both high-income and emerging. American longevity increases are surely encouraging, but the more interesting part of the study is how the rest of the world is catching up and even surpassing American seniors. South Korean women are projected to live to an average age of 90 years in 2030, and women in Spain, Portugal, Slovenia and Switzerland will see average lifespans above 87. South Korea, the Netherlands, Australia Denmark and Switzerland will all see their male citizens survive, on average, beyond age 80. Gains in Mexico and the Czech Republic will put lifespans there, for both men and women, to levels comparable to the U.S. by 2030.
Why is the U.S. not progressing as fast as other countries? The report and some of the research around the report note that the U.S. has high obesity rates and our diets are not as healthy, per capita, as some of the leading nations. South Korea has invested in childhood nutrition and medical technology, and although the U.S. spends more of its total GDP on healthcare than any other nation, the quality of health tends to be top-heavy; the richer Americans can afford much better care than their less-wealthy counterparts.
ABOUT HC FINANCIAL ADVISORS, INC.
HC Financial Advisors, Inc. is a fee-only registered investment advisory firm offering full financial management services to individuals and their families. We offer ongoing investment management and financial planning services for an annual fee based on assets managed.
Our current minimum annual fee is $10,000 ($1,000,000 under management). This fee includes the investment management of all assets as well as our com-prehensive financial planning services.
We welcome your referrals to our firm. There is no charge for a preliminary, one hour informational meeting to find out more about our services, investment philosophy, and backgrounds. You can also find us at our website www.hcfinancial.com.