The military, healthcare networks, the government, corporations and financial institutions are all obsessed with information security – and rightly so. Malicious attacks or accidental leaks can lead to catastrophic losses in sensitive data, customer information, proprietary information and financial data. But it’s not just huge entities that need to worry. Anyone involved in stock investing should be concerned with information security, as well. When a novice investor is learning the stock market basics, he or she would also be wise to also take a basic primer on information security.
Information security is defined as the process of protecting sensitive information against disclosure, disruption, recording or unauthorized access – either intentional or accidental – by outside people or entities. The information security war is generally waged on two fronts: IT and information assurance. IT professionals secure technology to prevent digital breaches, and the information assurance department is charged with ensuring that data is maintained and secured in the case of an emergency.
An Imminent Danger
As discussed in “What Does the Ousting of Target’s CEO Teach Us about Risk Management?,” information security attacks can be catastrophic. This lesson is set against the backdrop of the 2013 infiltration of national retailer Target. Tens of millions of customers in virtually every store across the country had data from their credit and debit cards compromised in one of the biggest information security hacks in history.
Information Security and Investing
If you’re involved in stock investing, you’re turning over sensitive information to entities that are prime targets for criminals who attack weaknesses in information security systems. There is no such thing as investing alone. It’s stock market basics 101 that in order to purchase stock, you must do so through a licensed broker. A broker works for a brokerage firm – which has enough of your data to make any digital thief salivate.
Do Your Homework
When you investigate your mutual fund’s manager fees, your ETF’s rate of return or your bond’s maturity date, don’t stop there. Investigate the information security precautions your investment firm takes to protect your data. Find out if they handle security in house or whether they outsource the job. Perhaps most importantly, find out if they invest or sell investments in stocks relating to the information security field.
Information security is a constantly evolving industry that has a hand in nearly every industry in which things are bought or sold. If information is changing hands between customers and businesses, businesses and other businesses or either people or businesses and governmental entities, then there are unscrupulous thieves or digital vandals who are poised to expose weaknesses – investing is no different.
Andrew Lisa is a freelance business writer. He covers data security and financial information protection.