Just How Risky is Electronic Document Delivery for Financial Services Providers?

Anyone would be hard-pressed to name an industry that’s subject to more regulatory requirements and data security protocols than financial services.  Because the stakes around security breach are so high, financial services providers are rightfully risk adverse. So, when it comes down to weighing the risks and rewards associated with implementing electronic document delivery capabilities, the perceived risk typically outweighs the rewards.

So just how risky is electronic document delivery for financial service providers?  The answer to that question is entirely dependent on features of their secure document delivery solution.

When hackers hijack emails that financial services providers send to their customers, the potential damage is significant. The risk resides on two fronts – first, there’s the risk associated with personal information appearing in the body of the email. And second, there’s the risk associated with hackers getting their hands on email attachments – statements, loan files, tax documentation and more.

The information that hackers can glean from the body of the email – name, email address, mailing address and other seemingly innocuous snippets of information – can be used for elaborate phishing scams. If a hacker has captured an email sent by a financial institution to a customer and invited that customer to enter their credentials into a fake website, it’s a quick yet devastating interaction. Because the email appears to be from their bank of record, the request seems legitimate. And when the customer responds to the request, the resulting damage can be swift and furious.

The second key area of concern – sending email attachments containing confidential personal information – is where financial institutions get so nervous that they opt out of offering the service entirely because they believe that there’s no such thing as secure electronic document transmission. If a hacker gets ahold of a loan file or tax statement, that customer becomes a sitting duck for full-scale identity theft.

While falling victim to a phishing expedition is inconvenient and embarrassing, customers know that at the end of the day the bank will absorb the fraud. However, if a hacker intercepts an attachment containing social security numbers, names, addresses and more, it’s virtually impossible for the bank to contain the damage.

Protecting customers and preventing fraud starts with proactively scrubbing the body of all email communication of all personal information that hackers can use to phish customers.  Best-in-class secure electronic document delivery solutions take an additional critical step to protect the security of the email transmission of sensitive documents.  These solutions feature email encryption capabilities that segregate the attachment from the body of the email while requiring a password to access the file. This added layer of protection makes it far more difficult for hackers to access confidential documents.

Risk mitigation is all about layers of protection and safeguards – and it’s critically important to balance usability and risk reduction.

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