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The SD-PFS*Ticker
Volume 5, Issue 2
June 2015

Dear Clients and Friends:

Yes, we've all heard about cyber security and ways to protect ourselves, but we're going to take this opportunity to talk a bit about the hows and whys of today's electronic security environment. Today, as we're all relying on computers, phones, tablets and even watches to keep us in touch, it's more important than ever to be aware of the dangers that lurk behind the screen. And, you might even be reminded of an old song that you hadn't heard in years!

We hope you'll find something useful in the information that follows. As always, please feel free to call us with any questions or comments at 412-261-3644.

Safety Dance

Remember that great song from 1982? When it comes to e-mail security, most of us don't dance. We've been inundated with warnings about security. Every day brings stories about data breaches, identity theft and mail theft. We're inured to it all. We just don't care or perhaps, are just overwhelmed. It seems as though everything is a risk and we've learned to live with it, and hope that we don't become one of the statistics. Life is busy enough without having to deal with more passwords, secret questions, security codes and tokens.

I truly understand. I was forced to reset a password while I was on

vacation and now have no idea what it is.  My failings aside, we want you to be aware, so we've prepared this short essay on the why of all the warnings about electronic communication.

Email is stored on a remote server. Your email is only as secure as the server that holds it. Servers are often the target of hackers. Plus webmail services are known to mine data from emails mostly for demographics and targeted advertising. Google freely admits they follow this practice as well as scan email for malware and spam. Your consent to use their servers means you have relinquished privacy. I personally love Google running my life. Through GPS, monitoring my routines and calendar, they know when I leave for work, church or even the dentist and provide me with a reminder and appropriate maps across any device. I'm willing to give up some privacy for convenience.

In addition to remote servers, your inbox could be a target as well. Sophisticated software can quickly attempt millions of password combinations. Many e-mail services do not have a lock-out provision for multiple incorrect logins. Users complain if it's too hard to get to their e-mail. Verizon is recovering from a bug in their service where a user logged into their account on a mobile device and was then able to log into any other Verizon account without a password. Also, never provide sensitive data via email. If you receive an email with such information, delete it before you reply or forward.  

We've all gotten the emails that entice you to click a link. Often these appear to come from one of your contacts. These links are toxic and will install malware or viruses on your computer. Such vulnerabilities can allow criminals access to your email and your hard drive. Malware is hidden in the link. Hover over the text of the link with your mouse to see where you are being directed, although the website itself may be infected.    

Attachments may also contain malware. For your safety, save attachments and run malware scans before opening. Your attachments can be a huge vulnerability. Lenders are notorious for asking you to email tax returns and asset related information. If you receive such a request, ask them for secure exchange. Many lenders have encrypted e-mail available. If they do not, you can use software to encrypt and add passwords to your attachments. WinZip, file compression software, offers such a solution for Windows operating systems. Adobe offers password security on the full versions of the popular Acrobat software. You can also find freeware, but make sure you go to a reputable site such as Cnet to research and download your software (use keyword: encryption). Once you generate a password, call the intended recipient to give them the password.

Bottom line, your email is not secure. Your e-mail is retained on some server farm possibly forever. Just because you delete the email from your inbox, the actual message may still be stored elsewhere. Many organizations, including ours, retain email for legal or regulatory purposes.  The provider or program you use to access email often has folders where deleted items are stored. Items are retained in that folder until you remember to permanently delete them.

So what can you do?  Stop using email?  Is postal mail any more secure?  Recent rashes of stolen mail belie that.  Electronic communications are safe and secure as long as you use precautions.

Common sense approach to electronic communications

  • Never click links. If you think the link is legitimate, key it in yourself.
  • Don't forward!  If you do, be aware of what may go along for the ride.
  • Never open unsolicited attachments.
  • Never send personal information, especially personal identification, via email.
  • Password protect and encrypt your attachments.
  • Delete email from your inbox and sent items regularly.
  • Make sure if you have a deleted items folder it is set to empty when you log out.
  • Keep your software up to date. Vulnerabilities are often repaired with updates.
  • Run virus and malware scans regularly.
  • Do not access personal information over free Wi-Fi (including entering login credentials for any site).
  • Check your credit reports yearly.

These are all reasonably simple steps. Always be thinking about security. Make it part of your everyday routine and soon you will be doing your own Safety Dance.

Any questions? Call or email your advisor. 

Our Newest Employee:

We are happy to announce that Derek Eichelberger has joined the Schneider Downs Wealth Management team as an Investment Advisor. Derek brings with him more than 17 years of experience in the financial services industry. He has advised high-net-worth individuals, foundations, endowments and retirement plans on a broad list of topics including asset allocation, investment policy design, portfolio management, investment manager due diligence and financial planning issues. We are excited to have him as part of our team.

Don, Nancy, John, Derek, Beth, Vicky, Theresa, Karen and Julie Ann

 Quotation Marks
"We have only two modes -- complacency and panic."
... James R. Schlessinger
SD Toolbox
  Links to tools, calculators and web apps we like.
Articles of Interest
Economic Research Report on Greece
What We're Reading
by Anthony Doerr

An epic work of historical fiction, this novel won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for fiction and is a powerful story about a blind French girl and a German boy who meet in France during World War II. With the added intrigue of a museum diamond known as the Sea of Flames, this story pulled us in and kept us on the edge of our seats.
Cyber Security Tip
 Cyber Security Tip
Whenever possible, it's best to avoid having personal and/or account information sent to you via the U.S. mail. With a quick trip to your mailbox, the bad guys can have a world of information about you in their hands. Your access to our new Orion client portal will help you eliminate the need for paper from us and your custodian.