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Van Der Noord Financial Advisors

Living your BEST life and Cybercrime



The Wall Street Journal (June 5, 2019) contained a special section dedicated to Cybersecurity- a topic that only a short time ago was not something we had to deal with, but which is fast becoming THE single biggest issue  for any business owner and consumer.

Cybercrime costs the US economy over $100 billion annually and $600 billion globally. That’s a lot of overhead and/or taxes that trickle down to you and me.

Yet despite all this firepower being thrown at the problem, there seems to be no end to the creativity of the bad guys. Ninety percent of all companies in the energy, healthcare and manufacturing sectors were hacked in the past two years according to the WSJ. The lead article in this special section discussed how computers will soon have the horsepower needed to break current encryption which is leaving security experts scrambling to come up with new ways to protect data.

Wait! Let’s just stop and chew on that. Despite billions being spent to prevent cyber-crime, 90% of all companies in the three sectors that virtually 100% of us use is being hacked. Seriously? What level of security or protection actually exists?  

Two different degrees of crime

OK. Let’s cut to the meat of the matter. There is cybersecurity and conversely cybercrime at the State level. Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran to name a few of or enemies could care less about your social security number. It’s unlikely that President Xi or Vladimir Putin are trying to open up a credit card in your name. No. At this level, our enemies are trying to shut down the power grid or contaminate our water supply or disrupt the internet or cell phone networks. It is at this level where most of the money is being spent and where most of the scary statistics are coming from.

At another level however, there is more of what is called identity theft. This is where bad folks buy things with your money pretending to be you. The most current stats show that from 2012 through 2017 between 12-17 million Americans annually were victims of identity theft. In 2018, the number skyrocketed to 60 million Americans. That’s over a 250% increase in just one year! Yet despite this big jump, which is alarming by any metric, it represents only 16% of the population. In other words, 84% of Americans don’t have any personal experience with this issue.

Ironically, the best defense against identity theft is old school- low tech common sense. Having habits such as shredding your mail and carefully reviewing your bills and credit report regularly go a long way in protecting yourself. That’s good news, but there’s more. Not only is the occurrence of identity theft not as rampant as State vs State cybercrime, the players are often not as sophisticated or as well funded as a Sovereign Nation. This means that it is much easier and inexpensive to successfully protect yourself from identity theft.

Living Your Best Life

We are always telling our clients, “You only get one shot at life, make the most of it.” Or “This is not a dress rehearsal for the next time.” This view of life makes protecting our client’s hard-earned wealth from being stolen by an identity thief a high priority; not only in our advice to them, but also in the way we operate our firm. In fairness, we don’t store very much of what would be considered private data, but we do store enough personal information to merit due diligence on our part in fulfilling our fiduciary duty to our clients.  VFA, Inc. actively employs the latest protection measures available - from encryption to regular cybersecurity audits. For example, while we have always protected our network with a firewall, new threats and viruses are being discovered all the time. So rather than have a static firewall that can only protect us from the viruses known at the time it was installed, our firewall is actively managed to protect our network against all the latest threats as they are discovered. From time to time, we also conduct an intrusion test, where ironically, we pay for an IT security company to try and get past our protections. These are just a small sampling of the measures our firm takes to protect our client’s and to make sure they live their BEST life with confidence.

In your personal universe, there may not be much you can do about all the nations trying to annihilate America, but there is a lot that can be done to protect your wealth from being stolen by an identity thief. There is no reason you need to live in fear. With the right financial plan, constant oversight, and a little common sense, we can help you live your BEST life in confidence and without anxiety.


Richard Van Der Noord, CFP®

Certified Financial Planner™

Registered Investment Advisor Representative


David T. Gerdt, CFP®

Certified Financial Planner™

Registered Investment Advisor Representative