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Personal Security: Making your life and your family more secure

home-securityDespite taking obvious pre-cautions to avoid crimes like break-ins or theft, many people fail to recognize the level of exposure they face when it comes to these risks. The issue is especially concerning for high net-worth individuals and families of extreme wealth, who often have more accounts, larger credit lines and several people handling their personal information and assets.

Still, it’s easy for someone living an affluent lifestyle to feel overly confident about their safety and forget that they may be a prime target. Therefore, the best means of defense requires reducing those opportunities and lessening your attractiveness as a target.

Below is a list of relatively simple steps to take to improve your overall safety in two areas that are often overlooked: home security and cyber security:

Home Security

Believe it or not, many people feel overly confident about their family’s safety at home, and fail to implement proper security practices . Four primary areas to assess when reviewing home security include:

  • Household staff: Consider conducting background checks on anyone working for you and at your home, including housekeepers, gardeners, dog walkers, electricians, and any outside vendors who regularly visiting your home. Be sure to keep any sensitive personal and business information hidden and not left out in the open for others to access.
  • Security systems: Security auditors say many homeowners don’t know how to properly use or program their house alarms, cameras and other security systems, and may only turn them on when nobody is home.
  • These devices should extend throughout the entire area of your personal property (i.e. in the garage, which is often the main point of access for criminals).
  • It’s also important to ensure you have adequate backup power systems in place in case of power outages and other system malfunctions.

Cyber security

Reports of data breaches and cyber crimes at companies like Target and other major corporations continue to dominate the media, causing massive damage and exposing millions of customers’ credit card and personal information. Businesses are not the only ones vulnerable to cyber crimes – they affect individuals and families as well, and the fallout can be even worse. While corporate businesses operate on secure networks and have entire IT departments dedicated to protecting the firm against cyber crime, families and individuals are far less likely to utilize or have access to these safeguards. There are however, several steps and preventative measures that these you can take to minimize the threat of cyber hacks and breaches.

  • Parents should talk to their children about online privacy and security, as well as monitor the electronic devices they use and the social media sites they visit. Establish clear rules and restrictions for internet use, especially when it comes to what is posted online. .
  • Beware of downloading content from any unknown sources that could contain malware and/or viruses that can infect your home computers and allow hackers to access your home network.
  • Only use secure, password-protected wireless networks and be sure to install and regularly update all devices with anti-virus software. Do not make purchases or send sensitive information over any unsecured networks. Be especially attune to of “spear-phishing” campaigns, which tend to use information about your known relationships to convince you of the legitimacy of the message.

While it can be time-consuming and expensive, making an effort to adequately assess your personal security is critical for you and your family’s well-being. Personal security must be approached holistically and considered in a comprehensive fashion, since threats like home invasion and cyber crime are often interrelated and can happen at the same time. Therefore, developing a cohesive plan that incorporates best practices for handling both will help minimize your risk profile and keep you, and your loved ones, safer and more secure.


About the Author

Catie Smith is an Assistant Vice President at William Gallagher Associates in the Private Client Group. She is responsible for managing high net worth accounts and helps design risk management programs for specialty clients. For more information on WGA’s Private Client Group, click here.

617.646.0280 | CSmith@wgains.com | Connect with Catie on LinkedIn  | Follow Catie Twitter @CatieSmithWGA

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