It’s a virtual world, but the threats are real
Proper education and assessments can help keep your family safe
It’s common knowledge that cybercriminals are working relentlessly to expose your most valuable financial and personal information, endanger your reputation and your family’s safety.
Dangers range from understanding whether a contractor working on your property can access Wi-Fi or local-network passwords, to identifying a forgotten web profile that features information that shouldn’t be publicly available. Even if you have a secure network, a single point of weakness – an internet-connected smartwatch, home voice-assistant or even a child’s gaming system – can signal the beginning of an ordeal that exposes your family to financial risk or unwanted publicity.
In the first half of 2019, data breaches compromised more than four billion records with 71% of those attacks financially motivated. Among the most audacious crimes was the attempted sale on the Dark Web of 617 million online-account details for less than US$20,000 in bitcoins.
Raymond Vankrimpen, a partner at Richter specializing in cybersecurity, privacy and IT risk management, notes that cybercriminals are increasingly sophisticated and patient. Online attacks often start with an email – more than 90% of malware arrives via an inbox through targeted phishing attacks – and once a trespasser gains access to personal information, such as account names and passwords, they monitor individuals until an advantageous situation presents itself.
“Criminals don’t discriminate. [and] whoever has money is vulnerable. If I’m a cyber criminal, I’m going to look for people who are least expecting an attack because they probably haven’t built up their defences.”
Raymond Vankrimpen, Partner, Richter
By slowly accumulating more information they can insert themselves into a transaction at a crucial moment to change bank account information where funds are to be transferred. And once that money has been wired to a fraudulent account, it’s gone.
“Criminals don’t discriminate,” says Vankrimpen. “Whoever has money is vulnerable. If I’m a cyber criminal, I’m going to look for people who are least expecting an attack because they probably haven’t built up their defences.”
ARE YOU SURE YOU ARE SAFE?
“I was speaking to someone who said, I’m not on Facebook, you can’t find out anything about me. It took 30 minutes to find his whole family was on social media. I knew where his daughter’s bar mitzvah was and what he did at the cottage, among other personal details. You have to look very, very broadly to see your digital footprint. It’s a whole myriad of things because you and others leave a digital trail wherever you go.”
At Richter, experts and advisors throughout the organization understand the implications of technology-driven risk for their clients. Preventing cyber risk is a complimentary element of the Family Office’s overall suite of investment, tax and estate planning services.
“Risk management and cybersecurity cut across every practice,” says Vankrimpen. “The security we provide guarantees our wider team can help our clients grow their wealth and preserve the value the family has generated for future generations.”
WHERE TO BEGIN
Family cyber safety begins by fully assessing each potential system, facility, communication and reputational threat. That’s why Raymond and cyber intelligence expert, Michael Van Oppen, advocate vulnerability and online footprint assessments that measure each family member’s exposure to external cyber threats. With prevention in mind, the process identifies all publicly-available information, assesses risk and recommends mitigation strategies.
Clients often ask, “Is my system secure?” and “Am I protecting my data?” Richter undertakes assessments specific to a family’s interests, schools, outside relationships, conflicts and more,” notes Van Oppen. “We examine how families communicate with one another and how they carry out business. We proactively monitor the dark web to look for names and search the internet for profiles and articles that mention them. It’s about security, but also about brand and reputation.”
“We examine how families communicate with one another and how they carry out business. We proactively monitor the dark web to look for names and search the Internet for profiles and articles that mention them. It’s about security, but also about brand and reputation.”
Michael Van Oppen, Manager, Richter
High-profile individuals can also face online harassment and targeted threats to their reputation. Richter can provide guidance and design personalized protection services that include surveillance detection training and the use of online tools that monitor dangers in real time.
Residential assessments identify and address both physical security and cybersecurity gaps, with a focus on personal safety, privacy and emergency response. Among the elements they take into account routines, habits and other personal details to create a clear picture of individual personal threats.
EDUCATION AND CYBERSECURITY AWARENESS ESSENTIAL
Secure technology and networks are essential, but individuals are their own best line of defence. That’s why education is needed to compliment existing technology, policies and procedures. “Richter enables training in key cybersecurity areas in the same way we provide family sessions on all aspects of financial literacy. If someone needs us to come in and secure an iPhone or Wi-Fi in the house, those are all things we can do,” says Van Oppen.
And in instances where a cyber security incident has already taken place, Richter’s experts quickly and effectively respond. Part of that response involves monitoring illicit internet forums and listings to identify the perpetrator, their methods and motives. With that crucial intelligence, we can assess the intrusion’s impact, respond to complications and establish safeguards to prevent future attacks.
In an invisible cyber world, the threats are still very real; Richter Family Office shines a light in dark corners for individuals and families to safely navigate unseen dangers.
Partner Raymond Vankrimpen and manager Michael Van Oppen are part of Richter’s Risk, Performance and Technology team and work closely with Richter’s Family Office to assesses, coordinate and safeguard the information and networks of families and their businesses. Raymond has more than 20 years experience helping organizations and families develop cybersecurity strategies and programs, while Michael is an intelligence specialist with expertise in providing security, risk management and safeguarding the reputations of high net-worth individuals.
 Verizon 5, “2019 Data Breach Investigations Report”, 2019, https://www.cs.columbia.edu/~smb/classes/f19/Files/(3)_2019_Verizon_DBIR.pdf.
 Risk Based Security, “MidYear QuickView Data Breach Report”, August 2019, https://pages.riskbasedsecurity.com/hubfs/Reports/2019/2019%20MidYear%20Data%20Breach%20QuickView%20Report.pdf