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Cybersecurity report reinforces urgency for family office protection

ARTICLE | July 11, 2022

Authored by RSM US LLP

Executive measures to thwart cyberattacks can fortify a family office’s defense

Good news on the cybersecurity front: The RSM US Middle Market Business Index Cybersecurity Special Report shows that protective strategies employed by middle market companies, which make up the largest segment of the U.S. economy, are helping turn the tide on data and security breaches.

The bad news? Companies with less mature controls have become even more of a focus for criminals—making many family offices easy prey for cybersecurity attacks such as ransomware, phishing and identity theft.

According to MMBI data collected from 402 senior executives, the top six actions they’ve taken to protect their organizations include:

  1. Updated security protocols (61%)
  2. Enhanced staff training/education efforts (49%)
  3. Enhanced security of existing remote workforce solutions (49%)
  4. Engaged data security consultants (46%)
  5. Purchased new or upgraded software (44%)
  6. Updated privacy policies (44%)

These measures likely contributed to just 22% of middle market executives claiming that their company experienced a data breach in the last year, representing a sizable drop from 28% in the first quarter of 2021. While no organization is truly immune to a breach, middle market companies of all sizes are generally doing a better job fortifying their environments.

“Companies, cloud providers, consulting firms and technology providers have all been making inroads to make it difficult for cybercriminals to access data and systems,” says Tauseef Ghazi, national leader of security and privacy services at RSM US and the cybersecurity leader for the firm’s family office practice.

Still, companies recognize the risks posed by the current dynamic threat environment, with 72% of executives anticipating that unauthorized users will attempt to access their company’s data or systems in 2022, a sharp rise from 64% last year and the highest number since RSM began tracking data in 2015.

This increase in awareness should be a wake-up call for family offices, many of which are having to play catch-up when it comes to embracing digital transformation and updating security protocols and privacy policies. “A routine exercise I practice when visiting family offices is walking around the desks and turning over computer keyboards. More often than not, I’ll uncover at least one sticky note with passwords for the online accounts of family members,” says Christina Churchill, a principal in management consulting at RSM US.

Churchill often assists RSM’s family office clients in upgrading their technology systems to provide greater privacy, security and control over personal and company information. Proactively taking advantage of experienced professionals when possible, along with having the right ecosystem of partners, will become more critical for family offices in managing risk and building effective controls in a timely manner—before it’s too late.

RSM’s MMBI 2022 Cybersecurity Special Report features additional executive insights, data privacy trends, and tactics family offices can use to strengthen their security and privacy programs. Download the research to learn more.

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This article was written by Tauseef Ghazi, Christina Churchill and originally appeared on 2022-07-11.
2022 RSM US LLP. All rights reserved.

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