The Accounting Firm and Cybersecurity

Posted September 16th, 2021 in Accounting Firms and Cybersecurity

Getting your emails, intellectual property, or files stolen could be a huge inconvenience. It might take a good amount of time to recover and you probably will lose the trust of some of your customers.

But having financial data accessed, tampered with, or even worse, lost, can be the end of your business and the start of never-ending legal issues.

In a time where cyberattacks happen daily, financial firms are one of the prime targets. You might think that big banks or mega corporations are first on attacker’s lists. 

Quite the opposite. 

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Cyber thieves frequently focus on small to medium-sized firms, as their security measures are usually not as complex and can be more easily breached.However, for some reason, cybersecurity, innovation, and the latest technologies are not the terms that come to mind when you think of accounting or finances. 

But in this day and age, they should be. Even before anything else.

Having your information compromised does not just mean a mess for your numbers, bills, and taxes. Financial data usually includes highly sensitive personal information likely to be used in several other crimes like identity theft, document falsification, and fraudulent transactions.

The popular saying “offence is the best defence” may apply to almost everything. But when it comes to sensitive financial data, prevention is key

So, what can you do to be prepared?

In all honesty, the short answer is that you should seek the help of an IT security expert. Your internal IT department most likely won’t cut it.

Not only would an expert have many years of experience and will be updated to the latest security standards, but it will save you time and money (aren’t they the same anyway?) so you can focus on your business and your clients.

We will never let you leave empty-handed of course. So, here are the most impactful things you can do now to ramp up security in your firm:

Consider Moving to the Cloud

I know, I know. It sounds scary. 

You are understandably extra careful with your data and with those who can access it. Why would you upload it to the web?

Well, as long as you choose a strong and secure cloud service, you will be in a much better place than having all of your data exclusively on a local server.

Ransomware attacks, where your local data is encrypted and locked until you pay the ransom fee, continues to be the most prominent malware threat for financial companies. It’s estimated that ransomware attacks occur every 11 seconds in 2021, and the usual downtime for affected firms is around 21 days. Not fun. 

By having your data stored in the cloud, you ensure that it’s always backed up and easily recoverable. Even if thieves happen to access it, you should be able to roll back any changes using versioning.

Multi-Factor Authentication

Vital to protect both your local and cloud data, MFA will ensure only you can log in and access your information. Even if attackers get a hold of your password. MFA is frequently classified as the top way to prevent unauthorized access to your systems.

While MFA is not 100% foolproof (unfortunately we’ve learned that nothing really is) it will increase your security tenfold. There are thousands of ways your password can be compromised. But your MFA token or cellphone (for SMS security codes) are usually unique and change every few seconds, making it close to impossible for an attacker to get a hold of or falsify them.

Backups

Having a quick way to recover from an attack without having to pay anyone to get back your data can be a lifesaver. Be sure to have a good backup regime in order to always be protected.

How frequent is too frequent? That’s up to you to decide. Strong firms have daily, weekly, and monthly backups all running at the same time. 

When it comes to the well-being of your business, nothing is too much.

Anti-Virus and Firewalls

All of the methods above are great ways to prevent or fix attacks. But you know what’s even better? Having the attempts not happen at all.

With a robust antivirus and firewall in place, you can protect your organization from having to deal with the attacks at all. They’ll filter out any attempts to infiltrate your information automatically, saving you valuable time. Consider this your first line of defence.

Which is best and what configuration to use would largely depend on your location, infrastructure scope, and budget. Hence our suggestion to let an expert hold your hand for decisions like this.

There Is No Advertisement as Powerful as a Positive Reputation

Your reputation is everything. There are thousands of accounting firms to choose from. Usually, customers will value security, trustworthiness, and confidentiality way more than your ability to crunch numbers.

Make sure you can offer all of those consistently and you’ll have already won half the battle.

Learn More About How to Protect Your Business

    
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