Protect Your Accounting Firms Sensitive Data With These Cybersecurity Measures

With many industries increasingly relying on technology to function nowadays, the need for protection from cyberattacks has also increased. Industries dealing with sensitive data are particularly at risk, and when you consider the amount of financial data typically stored by accounting firms, it’s little wonder that cybersecurity measures feature highly on their list of priorities. 

How much of a risk are cyberattacks?

Depending on their scale and severity, cyberattacks have the potential to result in financial losses of a significant nature, and can cause a lot of harm to the reputation of affected company’s. Additionally, cyberattacks may result in legal issues, particularly if the company who fell victim, didn’t have enough measures in place to protect against such an attack. 

Most common cybersecurity challenges for accounting firms

Holding huge swathes of sensitive financial data, accounting firms are increasingly targeted by hackers and other cyber criminals. Below are some of the most common cybersecurity challenges faced by accounting firms today:

  • Phishing
  • Ransomware
  • Insider threats
  • Third-party risks

What measures can accounting firms take to protect their clients data?

If you’re concerned about falling prey to cyber criminals, here are some protective measures you can take:

  • Carry out regular risk assessments

Risk assessments and routine security audits must be carried out regular intervals to help firms identify potential weaknesses, and determine primary threats. Examine crucial assets such as software, networks, hardware, and data storage with the intent to safeguard weak points within the company, and devise a strengthening strategy to better protect them. 

  • Maintain strong passwords and implement two-factor authentication

Simple, yet so very effective, making all passwords strong and having two-factor authentication is one of a company’s first lines of defence against hackers. Ensure that all passwords have both upper and lower case characters, and feature both numbers and symbols. Adding two-factor authentication, or 2FA, provides an extra layer of security with the requirement of a second verification form, other than the password. Whether this is a fingerprint scan, texted code, or security token, 2FAs can significantly decrease the risk of a data breach. 

  • Put a firewall in place

To protect your businesses network, a firewall is essential; acting as a barrier between the internet and your network, a firewall monitors all traffic and discourages any illegal efforts to gain access. 

  • Update all software systems 

Software that’s outdated is much more likely to be targeted by cyber criminals, who often take advantage of the weaknesses it presents. By regularly updating all operating systems and all applications, accounting firms can limit the risk of a cyberattack. 

  • Ensure sensitive data is encrypted

Safeguarding themselves against unwanted and illegal access to sensitive data, encryption that converts it into a format that’s unreadable, can be used for all sensitive data, including financial and personal information. 

  • Keep data regularly backed up

If your accounting firm’s data is regularly backed up, this means that it can quickly be restored should you experience a cyberattack, and the impact on both your business and your clients, is greatly reduced. Use a cloud, external hard drive, or hybrid version, to help prevent major losses.  

  • Monitor any suspicious activity

Alerts when an unusual login or illegal access to private information has been attempted, can help you act quickly should you need to.

From ransomware attacks and phishing, to insider threats, accounting firms must work hard to minimize the risk cybercrime presents to their business, and to their clients, and ensure that their entire team understands the importance of upholding certain cyber security measures.