It has been nearly two years since we last published our newsletter, and that timeframe roughly corresponds, not coincidentally, with the birth of our daughter Ellie. Fortunately Ellie– pictured to the right – is now sleeping through the night and between that and a recent hire here at Minerva, I’ll have the time needed to begin regularly publishing the newsletter again.
Matt Godown recently joined us after spending 8 years at Reliance Trust, initially in the transfers department and later in client services. Matt’s responsibilities include maintaining and updating reporting systems, responding to client requests for information and technical support and assisting advisors. Matt lives in Duluth with his wife Heather, a teacher, and their almost two-year-old daughter Emily. Matt can be reached at [email protected], or at extension 3 on 404 816 6688, and I hope you’ll join me in welcoming him.
Matt has come on board after a period of strong growth at Minerva. As a result of that growth, we’ve submitted our paperwork to register with the SEC. We were previously regulated by the State of Georgia, but the SEC picks up oversight of investment advisory firms with more than $100m under management. While we’re gratified with the growth of the firm, we’re committed to ensuring our level of service does not change. To that end, both Renee and myself will continue to work with a limited number of clients and we will bring in additional resources as needed to maintain – and ideally improve – our level of service to you.
Micah Porter, CFA, CFP®
Computer hacking and fraud is a topic that appears in the headlines regularly these days. Given the potential sums involved, it’s not surprising that criminals are increasingly focusing in this area and it does underscore the need to be mindful of computer security. One of our primary concerns is protection of your confidential information, and to achieve that we have a set of IT security guidelines that we review and update periodically.
Over the past several months we’ve heard from clients who have been impacted by data breaches at their healthcare providers as well as clients whose e-mail accounts have been hacked. In each instance, we worked with TD to implement loss prevention restrictions on client accounts and we also let clients know what other steps they could take on their own. TD also developed a checklist for clients, and we thought it would be useful to refine it and share with you.
Computer security is an involved, technical topic and the list below of steps you can take to protect yourself isn’t meant to be exhaustive. Still, implementing the measures below should help to ensure that your computer and accounts aren’t easy targets for hackers.
- Have your computer scanned and cleaned of all viruses, malware or spyware. Note that at least at present, there appears to be less of a threat to Macs than to PCs. An article on configuring security for Mac is here.
- While there is some discussion as to whether antivirus software is necessary for a Mac, it is strongly recommended for a PC. Make sure to keep the software updated and active.
- Do not open e-mail documents or follow weblinks if you suspect they may be fraudulent. While antivirus software can provide some protection against malicious links and infected documents, the software is not foolproof.
- If you believe your computer has been compromised, change your website passwords. In particular, make sure to change passwords for your e-mail accounts, your financial accounts and any other sites containing your confidential data (don’t forget e-commerce sites like Amazon).
- Consider using a password manager, which is a program that will generate strong, unique passwords and store those passwords securely for you. LastPass and 1Password are two of the most popular programs, and they work on both PCs and Macs.
- Many websites now offer two-factor authentication. What this means is that websites use two methods to confirm you are who you say you are when, for example, an attempt is made to access a website from an unknown computer or to change a password. The most common method for two factor authentication is to send a text with a one-time code to your cell phone. That code, along with your username and password is then required to access the site or change the password. Thus, if you’ve activated two-factor authentication, hackers would need your login credentials and your phone. Not all sites offer two factor authentication, but here is a list of most frequently used websites that do support it.
If you are concerned that your confidential information has been compromised, we’d recommend contacting the following organizations:
- Call us here at Minerva, and we will work with TD to place additional protections on your accounts at TD Ameritrade.
- If you believe your social security numbers have been compromised and you may be subject to identity theft, take the following steps:
- Contact Transunion at 800 680 7289 to have a fraud alert placed on your credit report. Transunion should handle contacting the other credit agencies, and as long as the alert is in place, you will be contacted before any new account is opened using your social security number.
- Use the following form to notify the IRS
- Lastly, contact your local law enforcement authorities so that they have a record in the event identity theft occurs.
For more information, both the IRS and the FTC provide additional information regarding identity theft at their websites. The relevant web pages are here for the FTC and here for the IRS.