Accounting businesses have access to some of the most sensitive client information, such as credit card details, yearly income, SSNs, bank details, and more. If it gets into the wrong hands, the information can be used for multiple illegal purposes.
Thus, a high level of cybersecurity can be a significant factor in differentiating accounting firms today. On the one hand, a firm with good cybersecurity might experience high business growth along with the trust of their clients. On the other hand, a firm with inferior cybersecurity might be crippled by multiple lawsuits and a downward growth trajectory.
Did you know that 43% of cyber attacks target small businesses? Thus, accounting firms should always be cautious.
However, learning the basics of cybersecurity and protecting your data from hackers is not rocket science. There are a few things that accounting firms should know and do to reduce the chances of getting their data lost to a cyber attack. Let’s look at 4 of them in detail:
- Train Your Employees
Hackers consider employees to be the most accessible point to gain access to any business’s network. That’s why they either steal the access credentials from your employees or trick them into providing network access. It indicates that the employees are not aware of cyberattacks and need more training. Naturally, employees having access to more sensitive information would require detailed movement, but every employee should be capable of detecting a suspicious situation if there comes a need. It becomes vital for accounting firms because almost every employee has access to some form of critical information.
Employees should know the following things:
- Emails asking login credentials or any other important information should be verified in person or over a phone call.
- Emails (even from the CEO) asking for any form of money transfer should be confirmed first.
- Emails displaying investment schemes that are too good to be true should be ignored.
- Backup Your Data
Ransomware is a popular form of cybercrime. In such attacks, the hackers try to get access to your system and encrypt the data. This way, all the data is locked, and you won’t be able to access it. The information is unlocked by paying a ransom for the data in exchange for the decryption key.
However, backing up the data is an excellent option to prevent such attacks. So, even if a ransomware attack hits you, you have your data backed up somewhere else. Please note that not all data backup options are equally good. If your backup device is also connected to your system, there are chances that they will also be affected by the attack.
This problem can be solved by backing up your data on the cloud (only if) the service provider offers top-notch data security features with end-to-end data encryption. An external hard disk plugged in only while taking the backup (once or twice a day) is also a good option as the attackers cannot access it if disconnected.
- Mobile Device Protection
Ideally, employees should not use their personal smartphones for official purposes. The main reason is that individual devices are not sometimes password protected or can easily fall into the wrong hands. Thus, it makes them vulnerable for hackers to steal the device or the information when the device is connected to a public network. Also, your employees can use the device for personal emails, increasing the risk of a phishing attack.
Businesses can tackle this problem by providing a mobile phone to the employees who need it for official purposes. As a business, it becomes your responsibility to encrypt the data on the device at all times. Also, please inform your employees that if the device is stolen/lost, the incident needs to be reported to the police and the company. If such an incident occurs, it would be best to secure all the information that could harm the company in any way.
There should also be clear instructions given to the employees that they should use the device only for official purposes and install no new apps without the management’s permission.
- Invest in Technology
A new malware, viruses, and other hacking techniques are developed and deployed all the time. Fortunately, investing in the right technologies can help decrease the chances of new cyberattacks. For instance, technologies like AI, cloud computing, blockchain, etc., have shown promising results in thwarting cyberattacks.
Blockchain is gaining colossal momentum these days on almost every front. This is because it offers a near-impenetrable network where no information can be accessed or altered without verifying its authenticity. Cloud computing is also one of the popular methods for accounting firms to protect their data. They can host their favorite accounting software and business applications on the cloud. As a result, all their data is stored in secure cloud servers with premium security features like end-to-end data encryption, automatic intrusion detection, the latest antivirus and firewalls, and multiple security compliance adherence such as PCI, HIPAA, SOX, and more.
With the volume of critical information accounting firms has access to, it becomes their responsibility to store and handle the information with utmost care. Data security becomes even more critical in this digital age of rising cyberattacks. Thus, it becomes crucial for accounting firms to know the basics of cybersecurity and avoid a cyber attack.
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