Accountancy is a unique sector because of the vast amount of sensitive data you’re handling in your day to day. That’s why cyber security in accounting needs professional attention, because the challenges are too far-reaching for any business to be expected to tackle alone.
Accountancy firms are the perfect target for cyber criminals, because not only can they compromise your data, but potentially thousands of other people’s data as well. Being in this position means that as an accountant, you cannot risk your business by being complacent on cyber security. Continuous training of staff, testing of human and technical vulnerability, and proactive management and monitoring are all areas to explore. Although these actions are about balancing risk and cost, the risk should not be underestimated.
Why is cyber security important within the accountancy sector?
- Protect client data
- Financial consequences of downtime and data loss
- Reputational damage
As the cyber threat landscape continues to mature and cyber criminals’ strategies become more sophisticated and persistent, businesses need to strengthen their defences. However, in the accountancy sector, cyber security is particularly important. Firms are responsible for housing and defending confidential and valuable financial client data. The repercussions of suffering from a data breach or loss would be extremely severe, not only financially, but reputationally and even legally too.
7 ways to protect your business:
1. Develop a cyber security strategy
The first step towards securing your accountancy firm, is assessing your current cyber security provisions, identifying vulnerabilities, and planning out a comprehensive IT roadmap. When you partner with a specialist IT service provider like T-Tech, we will help you to develop a tailor-made security strategy to avoid a cyber-attack or data breach. As part of our comprehensive range of defensive services, we offer a full IT infrastructure audit, and GDPR assessment.
When you work with IT experts, you not only gain access to their specialist security knowledge, but they can help to train you and your team to avoid cyber threats. For instance, T-Tech will help your accountancy firm to attain a Cyber Essentials Plus Certification, which will help you to protect against the most common cyber risks and attacks facing your accountancy business.
2. Back up data regularly
Adopting a strong data backup and disaster recovery plan is crucial in the accountancy industry. In case of a cyber-attack, natural disaster or other unfortunate incident, you would have an easily accessible copy of your data available. Scheduling regular backups, and utilising cloud and virtualisation technology are the most effective ways to ensure that your data is never lost, and your reputation is never compromised. As Microsoft Gold partners, T-Tech are primed to assist with Azure Cloud migration or help implement hybrid cloud solutions for accountancy firms unsure about fully moving data to the Cloud. Microsoft is planning to spend $20 billion in the next 5 years on security and so harnessing that capability is a solid choice.
Most businesses need cyber security insurance as a standard now, but the pre-qualify questions are getting more detailed. In the same way your health insurance asks if you smoke, or your home insurance asks if you have an alarm. Cyber insurance providers want to see what your business is doing to protect itself and this is not only to protect your business but also impacts how much you pay for insuring that business.
4. Strengthen email security
Over 80% of all cyber-attacks are achieved through email, so it is vital that you adopt strong email safeguarding measures in your accountancy firm. As a lot of data is transferred via email, it is important that you harden your email system to protect company assets. Educating your team about social engineering attacks such as phishing and carrying out regular email phishing assessments can provide your business with additional security. At T-Tech, we assist with strengthening your firm’s email security by offering a professional email health check and helping with migration to secure cloud services such as Mimecast and Office 365. These cloud-based email solutions minimise the risk of storage issues or losing access to old emails.
5. Implement password policies and multi-factor authentication
A key element of effective accounting cyber security is implementing stringent password policies. Require employee passwords to meet specific guidelines you set, such as including special characters and upper-case letters. You can also enforce regular password changing to help protect against hacking.
Two-factor authentication helps to defend against unauthorised user access and protects your information systems from a breach. When your accountancy business partners with an IT service provider like T-Tech, you will receive expert advice and support with password policy implementation and multi-factor authentication.
6. Utilise encryption
Encryption helps to protect confidential client or in-house data from being intercepted by third parties. This is particularly important when your accountancy firm’s data is in transit, for instance when it is being sent via email. However, for additional protection and security, you should encrypt all data even when it is being stored or is at rest.
7. Train your team in cyber security
Train your people using simulations and email security awareness training so they are prepared if a breach was to occur. The most significant risk is always human so regular training and reminders to your staff are vital, having all the technology in the world can’t prevent a person from clicking a link without thinking. There are some really good tools that do this for you with little intervention. There should be no exceptions regarding who does the training, the most senior people in any firm are the most targeted. So no excuses!
Bolster your defences with T-Tech
Are you ready to strengthen your accounting cyber security? T-Tech has specialist knowledge of how technology can benefit the accountancy sector, and with over a decade of experience, we can use our expertise to provide your business with the best possible defence. Book some time with us or find out more about our cyber security services by clicking the link below.