Would you put your SSN on a postcard?

This week I'll cover something called a "Secure Portal".

At its simplest, a Secure Portal is simply a means for allowing two people to send documents back and forth in a safe manner.  

The Secure Portal is meant to replace sending attachments on emails.

A portal can be integrated into your firm's website, or you can farm it out to a company that specializes in hosting portals.  The benefits of the latter is that they take care of ensuring compliance with the alphabet soup of laws we have to comply with as far as security is concerned.

Here's the hard truth:  You need to be using a secure portal or get some type of method to encrypt your emails.  Sending attachments over regular email, even with passwords, is not enough.

At The Rivlin Group, we've found that the hardest part of adopting this technology - as with all things technology - is the part where people get involved.

It is so convenient and easy to send that W2 or bank statement as an attachment.  But, what's the downside?  How convenient is it to clean up from an identity theft?

Many of our clients have taken our warnings and use the portal.  There is a learning curve for them, and us, and our staff.  Yet, there are always a few clients that just don't adopt the portal.  No amount of warnings or appeals seems to work.  

Our response is always, "Would you put your SSN on a postcard? - that's the same as emailing your W2 to me."

It's a security risk to your other clients.  Follow me here: if the client in question won't use the portal, chances are they are lax in other areas of their web habits.  It's a higher probability that their devices will get infected with a virus or trojan, or they'll get hacked or phished.  Your firm and your employees will then receive phishing or other spam type emails.  This is a problem.

At the time of this writing, we're supposed to send items with PII (Personally Identifiable Information) through secure means (either encrypted email or posting to a portal).  I wonder if at some point, ALL communication may be required to go through some sort of protection - but that's speculation at this point.

Quoting Orlando Bloom's character from the first (and should have been final) "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie, when asked how many times must he be reminded of something, "As always, just one more time."


Tech TipsJonathan Rivlin