The Perspective Blog

What You Need to Know About Cybersecurity in 2022

Bana Khoury

Picture this. You sit down at your desk early on a Monday morning the start of a busy week. As soon as you turn your laptop on, your stomach sinks at the sight of large ominous black screen with text that says your most sensitive files have been encrypted. You are instructed to send $1 million in Bitcoin, within the next 24 hours, to a random crypto wallet. If you don't make the payment within a few days, the message says, you will lose access to all your personal files, and they will be transferred into the dark web.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a farfetched scenario... It’s a ransomware attack – the most popular and common form of malicious software (malware) attacks. As we spend more and more of our lives online, be it pandemic-induced or due to general technological advances and globalization, cyberattacks -- which include ransomware, malware, and phishing attacks -- have been on the rise. Scammers, hackers, and fraudsters are using increasingly creative tactics and seizing more and more opportunities to strike.

Let’s look at some, scary, cyber trends:

With cyberattacks on the rise, it has become a top priority for many in the financial industry, including here at Northwood, to focus our attention on how to protect our clients and ourselves from such attacks. Here’s a look at some of the most common types of cybersecurity breaches, and what family offices can do to stay safe:

Phishing/ Social Engineering

  1. The attacker fools the target through impersonation. They pretend to be a family member, a close friend, or anyone with whom you might regularly interact with. Regardless of what impersonating role they take on; the motivation is to extract money or data. The successful attacks are methodical. Hackers take the time to learn details about the person whose identity they are impersonating, by closely following their online habits, emails, social media accounts, before they carry out the attack.SMS Phishing Example: by clicking on a link that you receive via text, hackers can download your online information or banking details.


This type of attack involves someone convincing the target to install or download malicious software, which provides the hacker with access to the target's personal or business information and networks. The purpose is to steal or destroy data. These are versatile attacks; hackers use various tactics and threats to gain access, such as viruses and trojans (a malicious digital pest that fools users of its true intent…) Malware penetrates networks when the target downloads or accesses malicious websites, spam emails, unsecured public Wi-Fi networks, or unsecured website links.


As described above, attackers can encrypt and deny a user (or organization) access to files on their computer and demand a ransom payment to restore it. The largest ransomware payment to date is believed to be $40M; an insurer had to make that payment to regain control of its systems.5

What can you do to protect yourself and your family?

Pro Tip: remembering and managing your passwords can be a pain – using a password manager, which generates and stores unique, complex passwords can be a lifesaver. Here are some password manager platforms that help with that: Keeper, LastPass.

Our team at Northwood is continuously looking at implementing industry best practices to ensure that we have the most up-to-date and robust measures to prevent breaches from happening. Leveraging experts in the field is crucial as the threats and hackers become more sophisticated and risk management is constantly evolving. In this digital world it never hurts to be overly cautious and to take the best precautions.


Bana Khoury

Bana is a member Northwood’s family office advisory team, working with families in the areas of financial planning, investment management, and taxation. Bana also assists the investment group with due diligence and investment analysis. Bana is currently a candidate for the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation. She has a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Finance, Strategy and Operations Management from McGill University, which included a five-month exchange program at Singapore Management University. During that time, she spent a month in the Philippines volunteering at a local village to help build their bed and breakfast business startup, while also teaching you that the village. Prior to joining Northwood, Bana was a Senior Financial Analyst at JLL, a global real estate firm where she worked in multiple lines of business and operations, including financial accounting and controllership, business partnering and capital markets. In her spare time, Bana enjoys travelling and discovering new cultures and foods as well as playing tennis.

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