By definition, accounting firms are trusted with some of the most intimate personal and financial information of their clients. Understanding cyber security basics ensures not only the safety of this information, but also the longevity of the firm. Accounting companies thrive off of their reputation for privacy just as much as their ability to crunch numbers, and cyber security is a vital part of this reputation.
The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) published a study that implied most breaches into accounting companies occurred because of a backdoor innocuously left open by an employee. Although hacking systems are becoming more sophisticated, the majority of those systems are not able to brute force their way in to a properly managed security perimeter.
Every employee should be trained in the basics of day to day security. For instance, no two passwords should be the same. Never give passwords to anyone who is not authorized to access a particular part of the system, and do not leave written passwords in plain sight. Simple rules such as no personal emails on company time also reduce the opportunity for hackers to phish or upload Trojan horses into a system.
Regardless of the security package that you choose, it should be updated regularly. Hackers are always coming up with answers to the latest protections, and a good security company will always modify its code to stay ahead of the game. However, it is up to you to download the updates as they come.
One alternative is managed security. This option automatically downloads updates as they are presented by the security partner company.
As commerce moves into the mobile space, so do hackers. Make sure that any employee that uses mobile devices is encrypting data, password protecting the device (with a password that is different from any other being used), and using the latest security apps on the phone to ward off malicious third-party users.
If your data is in one place, it is nowhere. Back up all of your most important data into the cloud on a regular basis. The process can be automated through a managed cloud solution, or it can be manually implemented by in house IT. Regardless, to ensure the safety of your client information, it should be behind the formidable wall of an enterprise level cloud provider.
There is no need for your accounting firm to become a cyber security firm; however, the interests of your clients must be protected. Contact Business World for the latest news and information on cyber security for accounting firms by calling 501-214-5482, and keep up with the latest solutions that you can apply in Arkansas and beyond.
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