Safeguarding RIA communications: Understanding data loss prevention trigger words

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In the world of wealth management, communication is key. As registered investment advisors (RIAs) and financial advisors, your primary job is to ensure that investors and clients have the necessary information to make sound financial decisions. However, with the rise of cyberthreats and data breaches, it has become increasingly crucial to safeguard sensitive communications from being intercepted or compromised.

One way to enhance the security of your communications is through the use of data loss prevention (DLP) technology. Microsoft DLP, in particular, is a powerful tool that can help you identify and protect sensitive information in emails, documents, and other forms of communication. To effectively use DLP, you must understand the concept of trigger words.

What are data loss prevention trigger words?

Trigger words, also known as data identifiers or keywords, are specific words or phrases that indicate the presence of sensitive information within a communication. These can include personal information, such as Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, and financial account details. They can also include sensitive corporate information, such as trade secrets or confidential client information.

DLP technology works by scanning communications for these trigger words and applying appropriate security measures to protect the information. This can include encrypting the communication, blocking it from being sent or shared, or flagging it for further review.

Common DLP trigger words and phrases for RIAs and financial advisors

The specific trigger words and phrases relevant to your RIA or financial advisory firm will vary depending on your industry and clientele. However, there are some common types of sensitive information that you should be aware of and monitor in your communications:

  • Confidential financial information – Specific financial terms, such as account numbers, Social Security numbers, and credit card details, are obvious trigger words for DLP. However, it is also essential to be aware of more general terms related to financial information, such as “investment portfolio,” “annual income,” or “tax returns.”
  • Personally identifiable information (PII) – PII includes any information that can be used to identify a person, such as their name, address, date of birth, and phone number. While some PII may not seem sensitive on its own, it can still pose a security risk if disclosed without proper authorization.
  • Insider trading – Given the strict regulations surrounding insider trading, it is imperative to identify trigger words related to this topic. Phrases such as “confidential information,” “insider knowledge,” or “non-public information” should raise red flags and prompt further review.
  • Investment strategies and recommendations – Phrases related to specific investment strategies or recommendations, such as “buy,” “sell,” or “hold,” may indicate the presence of sensitive financial information. Look out for these terms in both internal and external communications.
  • Compliance and regulatory terms – References to compliance violations, regulatory scrutiny, or legal matters should be treated as potential trigger words. These can include specific compliance laws and regulations, such as those from the SEC or FINRA, as well as terms related to audits and investigations.

The importance of DLP in action

Imagine this scenario: You are communicating with a client via email about an upcoming investment opportunity. In your excitement, you accidentally include a sensitive document that contains their Social Security number in the email attachment.

Without DLP technology, this information could potentially be intercepted by a cybercriminal or accidentally shared with unauthorized individuals. However, with DLP trigger words in place, the system would flag the email and block it from being sent, preventing any potential breaches of sensitive information.

Another example could be an employee accidentally mentioning confidential client information in a casual conversation on your firm’s instant messaging platform. DLP protocols could flag this conversation and alert you or compliance officers to the potential security risk, allowing you to take appropriate action before any sensitive information is compromised.

Best practices for secure communication

DLP technology is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to safeguarding communications. It is vital to establish best practices for secure communication within your RIA or financial advisory firm. Some key tips include:

  • Encrypting attachments – When sharing sensitive wealth management documents or reports, always encrypt the attachments to prevent unauthorized access or interception. Microsoft DLP can work in conjunction with encryption protocols to provide an additional layer of protection.
  • Using secure communication platforms – Choose communication platforms that have strong security measures, such as end-to-end encryption and multifactor authentication. For instance, Teams and Outlook, both of which can be integrated with Microsoft DLP, have robust security features to protect your communications.
  • Educating employees – Make sure all employees are trained on how to handle sensitive information and are aware of the potential consequences of data breaches. Regularly reviewing DLP trigger words with employees can also help them better understand what to look out for in their communications.
The solution to your data loss prevention needs may already be included in your current Microsoft subscription. Tune in to this podcast to discover the useful features already at your disposal to safeguard your data.
Data Loss Prevention for RIAs and Financial Advisors: Podcast

Ultimately, DLP is a critical component of a comprehensive security strategy for RIAs and financial advisors. By understanding and monitoring for trigger words in communications, you can better protect your clients’ sensitive information and maintain their trust in your firm.

Our team at RIA WorkSpace is dedicated to helping RIAs and financial advisors stay on top of the latest security measures and regulations. To learn more about our services, get in touch with us today. Together, we can ensure your firm’s communications are secure and compliant.