What your firm needs to know to protect the business and your clients
Accounting firms – even small ones – are not immune to cybercrime.
Because your computers are a treasure trove of valuable client and business information.
When you consider cybersecurity for accounting firms, you have to take into account both the financial and reputational/brand damage that a data breach can cause.
The Alavanca Systems team of cybersecurity professionals doesn’t believe in scaring clients with doomsday statistics, but it’s important for you to be aware of the types of criminals that are targeting accounting and tax offices here in the Chicagoland area.
- Lone-Wolf Hackers
- Cybercriminal Syndicates
- Rogue Nation-States
- Corporate Espionage Experts
There is no question that your accounting practice is a target.
In fact, every spam email you get is just one way the bad guys try to lure you into giving up data or access.
Now that we’ve talked about the various criminal enterprises that seek to exploit the data and personal information found in accounting firm files, let’s talk about specific threats.
94% of Malware is Delivered by Email
Let’s be clear. Malware is only ONE of the ways criminals try to gain control of IT systems or access to data.
Email-based cyber attacks and scams have been around since before the first “Nigerian Prince” sent out his “send me your banking info, and I’ll send you two million dollars in gold bullion” email.
Today, email attacks have become more sophisticated, using social engineering or “phishing” to try to force individuals to take actions (downloading a file/clicking a link/forwarding an attachment) that leave their systems and data at risk.
Cybersecurity for accounting firms – done the right way – includes email security steps such as email filtering and encryption.
300 Billion Passwords Need Protection
Cybersecurity Ventures has released a report that indicates that employees will have up to 90 passwords for various systems, applications, and websites in the year 2020. 86% of those passwords are weak and can be easily broken with current software.
What does that mean for the IT security of your accounting firm?
It means that your employees are using more passwords than ever before, and the passwords themselves need to be secured.
Alavanca addresses this challenge by implementing strong password protocols, single-sign-on technology, and double authentication.
Are You Among the 68%?
68% of business leaders feel that their exposure to cybercrime is increasing.
They’re not wrong.
The statistics prove that the small to mid-size company is being targeted more now than ever before.
Because enterprise-level companies (the criminal’s first choice of attack) have hardened their defenses and forced the hackers to move to easier prey.
Just think about the nightly news.
Have you noticed how much more often you’re seeing cybersecurity stories hit the top news accounts of the day?
The 68% are correct.
Cybersecurity Professionals are Harder and Harder to Find and Hire
In 2020, 82% of employers are finding it difficult to source and hire competent cybersecurity professionals for in-house, full-time positions. The market demand has exploded, and supply just hasn’t kept up.
Sure, 82% isn’t a number directly drawn from a study on cybersecurity for accounting firms, but CPAs are struggling to find IT security professionals as well.
The best answer to this crisis for most accounting firms is not to hire at all, but rather to partner with an IT services firm with the capacity to manage, maintain, and monitor their cybersecurity posture.
An IBM study found that it takes the average organization 206 days to identify a breach.
It means that a hacker can sit in your system, quietly sifting through your proprietary and client data for an average of 206 days before you even know that he’s there!!
24/7/365 cybersecurity monitoring is an absolute must.
60% Of Cyber Breaches Can be Traced Back to Updates, Upgrades, and Patches Not Installed.
If your accounting firm isn’t staying on top of installing the latest patches, you’re particularly vulnerable to attack.
“But, I just bought that computer!”
We hear it all the time.
Before a computer system, software, or application hits the shelves, someone out there is trying to figure out how to crack it and use it for nefarious purposes.
You have to keep on top of updates, upgrades, and patches.
MSPs, like Alavanca Systems, take care of all this for their customers automatically as an element within a broader scope of cybersecurity tools leveraged.
1.4 Million Fake Websites a Month
According to ZDNet.com, cybercriminals make malicious versions of credible websites at the astounding rate of 1.4 million a month!
How do you keep your employees from mistakenly landing – or worse, entering company information – on one of these sites?
Internet filtering (also known as traffic filtering) can be done on the Internet Service Provider (ISP) level but is more effective when done by a cybersecurity professional at the firewall level in your CPA firm.
By having an IT security specialist handle the website traffic filtering at the firewall level, you are able to have much more governance and compliance control than the generic ISP settings.
Concerned About Your Accounting Firm’s Cybersecurity Posture?
Not to worry.
Just call the Alavanca team.
We work every day to secure, maintain, manage, and monitor the IT infrastructures and IT-based workflow of CPA firms across Chicagoland.
Ciro Cetrangolo is an IT specialist with over 30+ years in the IT services industry. Ciro has a deep understanding of the software, workflow, and underlying technology of accounting organizations and helps firms like yours achieve the secure, stable, and streamlined IT environments you need to accomplish your work more effectively. See my Amazon Author Profile