In the last few years, there has been a significant increase in the number of crimes in the cyber world.
Cybercrime has influenced many businesses, and accounting firms are not excluded also. Accounting firms deal with extremely critical information; hence they are one of the most vulnerable when it comes to cybercrime. These malicious attacks are targeted at stealing information, data, devices, and other resources that leak sensitive information about the business.
A successful cyber-attack at any such firm can cause impact to client credentials as sensitive as payment and transaction data. Hence any accounting firm must place primary importance to the security of their data systems, both network wise and physically. If you ignore online security, then cyber intruders can snatch your data in a while without your attention, and that can cause considerable damage to accounting firms especially. So, here are some essential tips to keep in mind to safeguard the data in an accounting firm.
Basic Security Practices must be in place.
Security requires your attention, and if you are running an accounting firm, then, security tips should be considered. All software used in the systems and machines must always have the latest version installed. If there is any outdated software or plugin, then it would be an open welcome to infiltrate your system. Security patches must be applied as and when they are released. There should be antivirus software installed on the system, and it must be updated on a regular base.
Moreover, there should be password policy, and passwords should be kept at a safe drive or place, and there should be specific persons who should access admin or system passwords. The accounting firm should have BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy as employees accidentally can expose some sensitive data to attackers. Ensure a secure VPN for those working from home.
Understand the importance of Encryption
Vulnerable data is like ripe fruit for hackers, primarily if the date is transmitted in plain text between the server and the browser. Breaches are likely to happen when you do a freelance job and send data on insecure channels; meanwhile, hackers could target such people due to little awareness about cybersecurity. Hence the Accounting firms must use and access only SSL enabled websites as an SSL certificate uses Encryption to safeguard data. Encryption ensures that those with unauthorized access to your data can not decode it. Comodo Positive SSL Certificate is most recommended amongst all SSL Certificates.
In the Accounting firm, there should be taken care of physical devices and other equipment else; it can lead to a data breach. The firm should have card key access, visitor logos, or badges for entering office premises. It would help if you restricted entry in some areas of the office where selected or permitted employees can access it. If the firm is providing laptops, tablets then, they should be protected with cable locks where employees can lock their desks and remain secured. You should provide training to staff to avoid keeping sensitive information on sticky notes on their desks. Access control and data repositories should have limited access in the office.
Invest in human resources
Your company data is just as secure as your employees keep it. Humans are a powerful resource but an easily exploitable resource. They can easily make a human error, which can be used by hackers to their advantage. It is essential to educate employees about the risks of cybercrime and how a single data breach is enough to bring an entire firm down. Hackers can try different ways to make employees victims and get their credentials or entice them to click a link downloading spyware on their machine. Awareness is the first step toward security. Once employees are aware of the various risks, be sure to tell them the do’s and don’ts and what to do in case they notice something suspicious. A security plan must be put in place for employees to follow in case of a data breach or a potential situation.
The other part of educating humans is your clients. It is essential to let them know that they are not supposed to provide any sensitive information regarding their credit card or any other financial credentials to any person posing to be an employee from your accounting firm. It is essential to make them understand the dangers of providing such critical information through an unsecured medium like message or phone and warn them against any potential try that the hackers my attempt.
If you are the owner of an accounting firm, you must be in contact with experts in data security who are trustworthy and can be consulted in case of an emergency. The accounting firm can also have a separate department for monitoring various networks and departments to report any suspicious or unusual event and be proactive in detecting and resolving vulnerabilities or patches. In the case of a smaller firm, the experts can be consulted as and when needed, not recruited permanently.
Nobody can guarantee absolute security from cyberattacks but maintaining specific standards and incorporating some tips in the functioning of the accounting firm can help in reducing the probability of a cyber-attack. It is, therefore, to have a backup of data on a regular time. If there is any unwanted breach, then the firm can recover old data using a backups facility. Being proactive is the way to be, and securing data is one of its prime components. So, go ahead and follow these above tips and begin your journey towards data security!