COVID-19 Changed Everything. – Now You Have to Be Able to Utilize Secure Communications Channels from Any Location on Any Device.
Think back about four months.
You were all working at the office, getting things ramped up for the busy tax season ahead. Then, everything changed – throwing your CPA firm into the challenges associated with work-from-home employees and technology.
In the swirling COVID-19 flood of the first few weeks, you likely did one of two things. You either called your IT guy to get some workflow and communications technologies up and running for you, or you grabbed onto one of the popular cloud-based communications tools, dropped in your credit card number, and ran with it.
Now that you have gotten used to running a geographically separate operation, you’re starting to think again about the recommendations of your IT guy or your own hastily made communications choices.
Are your communications secure?
Four “Hair on Fire” Indicators that Your Accounting Firm’s Communications May Not be Protected
- Advertising – For many businesses that are trying to pinch every penny, cheap communications comes with a tradeoff…advertising. If you’re using communications tools – apps/sites – that are trying to sell you other products through banner or side-column ads, your conversations are likely not secure. If you start getting advertising related to your topics of conversation, you’re in real trouble.
- Hacks and Compromised Passwords – It’s easy to share a username and password in a direct-message chat session. But if that chat session isn’t encrypted, that action could come back to haunt you. Cybercriminals are on the lookout for access credentials like these. If you’re suddenly getting hacked, it might be your communications security (or lack thereof) that’s to blame.
- Industrial Espionage – Your accounting firm handles the closely protected, proprietary financial data of your clients. If your file-sharing systems are not secure, it’s not hard for that data to be harvested and leveraged by your clients’ competitors. That’s a breach of trust from which you’re not likely to recover.
- Compliance Problems – The notice regarding your unsecured, and therefore uncompliant communications, may not come in the form of an auditor, but may simply come as a friendly email from a client saying, “Are you sure that system you are using meets compliance mandates? You might want to look into that.” That’s your cue to check it out and rectify the problem before the auditor shows up.
What’s all the confusion?
In recent years, hundreds of cloud-based communications companies have flooded the market. Generally, they start in their operational maturity trying to sell their text/voice/email/video communications services to home users and micro businesses. Why? Because they don’t have to meet the stringent security requirements that are demanded by larger, more mature organizations.
Unfortunately, because their prices are lower and their advertising is slick, small accounting operations sometimes opt for their services, not knowing that their security is not up to standard and their encryption is non-existent.
In short, there is a big difference between business-class communications security and cloud-based communications options built to the specifications of security for the home user or startup.
What Secure Communications Options Should Accounting Firms Be Implementing?
- Enterprise-Class Secure File Sharing
- Encrypted Email
- Protected direct messaging, voice, and video calls
- Business-Class VPN Technology
Now is the time to find out.
Now, before you’re faced with real problems.
What Does Alavanca Systems Suggest for Secure File Sharing, Encrypted Email, and Business-class VPN technology?
- Enterprise-Class Secure File Sharing – Alavanca’s Secure File Sync and Share platform allows your CPA firm to control access to files, create group policies, use cloud or hybrid setups, and work without fear of ransomware or intrusion.
- Encrypted Email – Alavanca strongly suggests the use of Microsoft 365 Business-class email solutions in combination with Alavanca’s comprehensive email encryption technology. The combination of these two technologies allows your firm’s email content to be hidden from prying eyes and limits the use of email attachments (files) to authorized persons.
- Protected Direct Messaging, Voice, And Video Calls – Our PBX Communications systems unify your video, voice, and direct messaging needs into a single, secure, intuitive communications platform. Using a professional-grade VoIP system that is supported and maintained by the Alavanca team, gives you confidence that your conversations (and your compliant standing) are protected.
- Business-Class VPN Technology – By using either a physical or virtual machine, the Alavanca IT security specialists build and maintain an encryption tunnel for any communications that flow through the internet. Our scalable, high-speed crypto VPN technology uses IPsec and SSL protocols to keep your online conversations from being intercepted.
But you don’t just use the internet on-site, do you?
Alavanca’s business-class VPN technology takes your travel and at-home work into account, providing 360-degree protection for your internet activity no matter where you connect.
What Are the Business Benefits of Deploying Secure Communications Systems for Work-From-Home / Mobile CPAs and Accounting Administrative Staff?
- One Place for Communication – The trouble with having a mix of unsecured communications tools is that everyone is using what they like best – not what’s best for your business and your security. Putting a business-class unified communications system in place standardizes the way your employees talk to each other, vendors, and clients.
- Compliance Through Access Control and Group Policies – Access credentials must be controlled and group security policies need to be established within a communications system, to ensure that industry guidelines and legislative mandates are being met.
- Confidence – Knowing that their communications with clients are protected gives your CPAs and admin staff the ability to work more efficiently and confidently with clients across multiple, protected communications channels.
- Company and Project Updates and Alerts – Having the ability to use private memos across multiple communications tools when trying to get everyone on the same page is an invaluable resource.
- Communications Analytics – Want to know how well your CPAs and admin staff are doing with the communications side of company culture? Analytics dashboards detail whether your employees are communicating well, or whether there is a culture of siloed information that you need to address.
- Easy Staff Onboarding and Removal – Because business-class communications systems are managed and maintained by IT professionals, provisioning a new employee with access to the system or removing a departing employee from the system is taken care of for you – saving time and hassle.
Want to know more about secure communications for work-from-home / mobile CPAs and accounting administrative staff? – You’re in the right place. Just reach out by phone or our contact form.
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