In an interconnected world, social platforms such as Facebook, have evolved into components of our everyday lives. Real-time updates keep us in the loop with popular events, friends, “liked” company pages, the latest apps and so on. Behavior quizzes offer entertainment to discover your celebrity and fairytale doppelgängers, or breakfast food and ice cream personality matches. To partake in this social extravaganza, we hand over our personal information freely, forgetting its value somewhere between each hashtag and viral post.
It seems that every hour emerging innovations and dynamic social platforms open the threshold of new opportunities to share and attain information. Typical data requested from social sites may include your full name, age, sex, birthday, relatives, photos, account access, etc. However, what most people don’t realize while tuning out to plug in our witty social facts, is the depth of personal data they’re unwittingly dispensing to persons, companies and third parties unknown.
When it comes to social media engines, when did people become the mindless machines pumping out sensitive information?
The winter season has officially greeted the East Coast with the first major storm of 2016, Storm Jonas. Jonas produced historic amounts of snow in many East Coast states setting records for all-time heaviest snowstorm at two prominent New York airports, JFK (30.5 inches) and LaGuardia (27.9inches). With these unprecedented levels of snow, New York City was forced to halt public transportation and implemented a mandatory restriction on private transportation as well. Jonas proved to be kind in the fact that the majority of the impact fell on the weekend but many firms can recall more disruptive storms occurring during regular business hours leaving many employees feeling stranded. To alleviate the stress incurred during winter storms, we sat down with our own Business Continuity Analyst, Matt Donahue, who creates, writes, and audits hedge fund’s business continuity plans. Matt spoke with us about different BCP scenarios and provided tips to keep your firm operational during the worst of storms.
Rather watch a video? Scroll down or click here to see Matt’s 15-min Q&A on winter weather prep.
There has been a lot of talk recently on the West Coast about El Niño and its potential impact. Apart from a 1997 Saturday Night Live sketch featuring Chris Farley (do yourself a favor and look it up on YouTube), I realized I needed a refresher on what exactly El Niño is and what its potential impacts could be on regions across the U.S..
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), El Niño conditions occur when abnormally warm waters accumulate in tropical latitudes of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean. Consequently, tropical rains that usually fall over Indonesia shift eastward. During El Niño winters, northwestern North America is more likely to experience warmer-than-average temperatures, and the southeastern U.S. is more likely to receive rain.
Of course, this should not be confused with La Niña.
In today’s competitive market, research management software (RMS) has become a must-have integrated feature for investment management firms. Significant benefits offered via RMS have caused a ripple effect of soaring adoption rates across the global investment industry. In this article we’ll examine how adopting a research management solution could benefit your firm.
With offices, colleagues and clients spread across the world, firms need to consolidate data in an organized fashion. From meeting and call notes, to audits and analyst reports, the demand for readily accessible information is ever burgeoning. Storing information within multiple programs and folders not only welcomes disorder and the opportunity for digression in the workplace, but also increases costs and wastes valuable time. This prehistoric method of aggregating data has been replaced with advanced RMS, a much more viable, flexible and comprehensive solution. Hosting a firm’s data within a user-friendly, central repository simplifies processes, optimizes productivity and uncovers new business opportunities. When selecting a RMS, managers may consider a generic or industry-specific product. While both options present benefits, the latter assimilates seamlessly with an investment firm’s daily workflows, terminology and diverse range of data. An ideal RMS will also offer customization, accessibility and integrate with other applications, such as Outlook.
On December 9, 2015, Wells Fargo Prime Services and Eze Castle Integration hosted a panel on cybersecurity to discuss the current landscape. The panel featured leading industry experts including:
Eldon Sprickerhoff, Founder & Chief Security Strategist, eSentire
Stuart Levi, Partner, New York, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Vinod Paul, Managing Director, Eze Castle Integration
Timothy O’Brien, Supervisory Special Agent, Cyber branch, Federal Bureau of Investigation – New York Office.
Marc P. Berger, Partner, Government Enforcement, Ropes & Gray LLP
Marc Berger’s opening statements emphasized the extent of the cybersecurity threat currently facing firms across a wide swath of industries. He quoted FBI Director James Comey, who stated: “There are two kinds of big companies in the United States. There are those who’ve been hacked … and those who don’t know they’ve been hacked ….” (FBI Director James B. Comey, 60 Minutes, CBS TV Interview, October 5, 2014). Alarming statistics from the Ponemon Institute’s 2015 Cost of Cyber Crime Study, conducted with HP Enterprise Security, found that the average cost to resolve a single cybersecurity incident is $1.9M, and the average time to resolve is 46 days. Perpetrators range from nation-state-sponsored hackers and disgruntled/rogue employees to organized crime units, activists, and other thieves.
Many years ago, business continuity plans were a nice-to-have feature for investment management firms. Only the largest and wealthiest firms employed them. In today's landscape, however, investors and regulators alike expect and demand that firms implement preparedness plans for disasters and cyber-attacks. BCP plans, therefore, are no longer optional.
The key to a successful business continuity plan lies in understanding the impact a disaster situation could have on a business and creating policies to respond to any such impact. Here are the five key steps to this plan:
We spend a lot of time educating our clients about security best practices and encouraging them to implement comprehensive security policies and procedures to mitigate risk and protect both the firm and its employees. And for good reason. Data breaches continue to wreak havoc for businesses, and the cost is steadily rising. According to the Ponemon Institute, the total average cost of a data breach is now $3.8 million, up from $3.5 million in 2014.
While companywide policies should reflect long-range expectations and corporate best practices, they should also include tactical recommendations that employees can follow to ensure they are complying with the company’s overall risk strategy. In addition to providing employees with security best practices they should follow, don’t forget to also include a list of actions they should not. Here are just a few pieces of advice we regularly offer our investment firm clients. You can download our full IT Security Dos & Don'ts eBook by clicking here.
Lock your computer and mobile phone(s) when you leave your desk and/or office
Use care when entering passwords in front of others
Create and maintain strong passwords and change them every 60-90 days (We recommend a combination of lowercase & uppercase letters and special characters)
With a new year brings new excitement and new ambition. Across the hedge fund and alternative investment industry, firms are devising new strategies and implementing plans to drive growth and increase returns. In 2016, we expect the following industry trends will play a role in shaping many of the decisions hedge funds and other investment management firms make.
Hedge Fund Cybersecurity 2.0
Last year, cybersecurity took center stage across the investment community, and there is little doubt that it will continue to dominate in 2016. If we can assume that firms used 2015 to shore up security practices and have, at minimum, established a baseline for protecting firm assets with firewalls, password protections and penetration testing, we can expect 2016 to take cyber preparedness to the next level in the form of advanced features and analytics including phishing and social engineering tests, designed to increase the level of preparedness held by firm employees. With cyber-attacks increasing in sophistication, firms will need to spend time in 2016 working with managed providers and internal IT teams to continue the education process and identify strategies to outsmart hackers.
Happy New Year! Here at Hedge IT, we’re looking forward to sharing more educational articles with you in 2016, but before we do, let’s take a look back at our readers’ favorite articles from last year.
Cybersecurity Regulations Take Center Stage
The Securities and Exchange Commission took major strides to regulate investment firm cybersecurity practices in 2015, with the release of multiple guidance updates (Click for the September 2015 update). At a high level, the SEC has identified the following six areas as paramount for investment firms to demonstrate preparedness:
In December 2015, we participated in a Wells Fargo Prime Services cybersecurity event and the panelists outlined everything your hedge fund needs to know about the SEC’s security expectations. Read “SEC Cybersecurity Checklist: 6 Areas Your Hedge Fund Better Have Covered” for the full scoop.
If you’re a loyal Hedge IT reader, you may remember we highlighted a few simple dos and don’ts that, when utilized, can go a long way in shoring up your firm’s security. To make it easy, we’ve put these tips together into a video. Take a look below and discover a vast range of security tips and tricks from email encryption to proper security measures for protecting computers and mobile devices.