Why Accounting Firms Should Prioritize Cybersecurity
As an accounting firm, you hold lots of confidential client information such as social security numbers, tax information, and bank details. That’s why it’s critical to prioritize cybersecurity to protect your clients’ sensitive data. Just like you, no business owner or CEO wants to be on the headline for the next cyberattack.
The situation has worsened as many accounting practices use remote employees and CPAs without fully understanding how to implement the work-at-home arrangement securely. This has resulted in a heightened number of cyberattacks on accounting firms of all sizes. Due to the rising number of remote workers and the prevailing COVID pandemic, cyberattacks have increased by a whopping 30 percent.
How Accounting Firms Should Approach Cybersecurity
Just because most cyberattack headlines feature multi-billion dollar corporations doesn’t mean your accounting company is secure. While larger corporations may be at higher risk, every accounting firm is a hot property for attackers. According to a CNBC report, accounting firms are the most targeted small businesses. So, it would be best to be vigilant at all times to avoid costly regrets.
Although digital advancements have helped improve business productivity and efficiency, they have also increased the probability of new sophisticated threats and privacy concerns. Thus, accounting firms must evolve their security parameters continually to tackle the newer and technologically advanced methods of attacks.
Why Cybersecurity Should Be Your Top Priority
Hacking strategies are continually evolving as cybercriminals keep inventing new methods to execute attacks. Regardless of how secure your accounting practice is, there will always be a possibility of a data breach as fresh, sophisticated attack methods might penetrate your company’s security system.
Even large corporations have been attacked in the past. Accounting businesses must keep a constant check on the emerging cybersecurity trends and upgrade their defense systems regularly.
Here are some reasons you should prioritize cybersecurity for your accounting firm:
- •Huge Financial Loss: The majority of cyberattacks are aimed to extract money through ransomware attacks. A successful data breach can result in a substantial financial loss that may drive your firm into bankruptcy or other grievous consequences. Besides, your clients will lose their trust and move their business to your competitors, and it will be hard to get new customers.
- Risk to Clients: If your accounting firm cannot guarantee the security of client information, you could risk your clients’ businesses as well. Besides, you could end up with serious lawsuits that could bring your business to its knees.
- A Blow to Your Reputation: Thanks to today’s digital environment, any negative news can travel across continents in a matter of seconds, hampering your company’s reputation globally. This will negatively influence your profits and establish a long-term tainted reputation.
How Accounting Firms Can Mitigate Cyberattacks
A viable approach to effectively thwart cyber threats is to design a strategic approach that handles cybersecurity as an enterprise problem rather than just a tech issue. Working with a professional cybersecurity company to assess your data security level and test vulnerabilities is a great way to go about it.
Experienced IT consultants and ethical hackers can, with your authorization, access your data and network and attempt to penetrate at the application and infrastructure level. Afterward, they will generate a detailed report stating the weak points and then recommend mitigation steps based on the results.
Another approach is to engage the services of a cybersecurity professional such as a security architect with experience implementing security measures in your niche. For instance, accounting is a unique industry that handles lots of sensitive personal and business accounting data. Hiring a generic cybersecurity professional would not be an ideal choice here. Since modern accounting is executed largely on the cloud through various applications such as online QuickBooks, you need to work with someone with extensive knowledge in your specific niche.
Overall, here are some proven ways to keep ahead of your cybersecurity efforts:
1: Look Beyond the Firewall
With today’s complex threats, firewalls and antivirus software are no longer adequate to protect your network. Take additional steps, such as penetration testing, vulnerability scans, and cybersecurity awareness training to equip your staff with the right skills and best practices to prevent these types of attacks from occurring. For many accounting firms, a successful cyber-attack is not only a financial loss but also a PR disaster.
2: Assessing and Sealing Network Vulnerabilities
Hackers usually attempt to attack accounting practices with the least secure networks and the most vulnerability. These “low hanging fruits” and “unlocked doors and windows” allow hackers to access computers and devices on the network and use them as launching pads to gain access to other sensitive systems such as tax software and servers. A cybersecurity expert can help you put in place measures to minimize the likelihood of breaches in your devices and networks through advanced vulnerability management tools.
It’s also vital to have an annual penetration test done on your network by an ethical hacker. These tests safely simulate a criminal attack and uncover any vulnerability in your network that could easily allow cyber attackers to access your data.
3: Modernizing Cybersecurity for Your CPAs
To make your system foolproof, you must shift your focus from simple preventative measures to more comprehensive multi-layered strategies that incorporate real-time penetration testing, vulnerability management, cybersecurity awareness training, and independent security audits conducted by an experienced cybersecurity company.
Overall, CPA practices must have threat mitigation strategies in place that include more than just antivirus software, firewall, and some “feel-good” cybersecurity software. Mathe is well equipped to offer your organization stable and reliable cybersecurity solutions and other client services your practice requires to meet its growing demands in today’s business climate.
We understand the anxiety your accounting business goes through when your information technology systems and networks yield to the tactics of cybercriminals. We specialize in secure cloud desktop solutions through our IT Fortress brand. Besides, we have extensive experience in niche-specific cybersecurity solutions for sensitive industries such as Accounting firms, healthcare, and other organizations that can leverage a secure cloud environment. Schedule a cybersecurity consultation with Mathe for your New Jersey accounting firm today!
With over 35 years in the business of supporting and implementing technology for the SME market, and 6 years previously in Corporate IT and Voice. I have seen a great deal of change. The only common thread is I have always focused on the Business Wise application of Technology. We always try to look 5 years ahead of the current technology to make sure our clients are on the right track to meet current and future needs.