Technology is evolving with time. With this advancement, the way CPA firms store their data has been transformed. They have moved from the traditional methods of information to cloud storage.
However, this transformation has also opened the gates for hackers to access online data without permission. A report from Identity Theft Resource Center reveals there were 1.6 million victims of financial service data breaches in 2021.
Thus, CPA firms must ensure that top-notch cybersecurity solutions protect their data. Firms need to understand the importance of cybersecurity and the crippling consequences of a data breach.
This post aims to give complete information on cybersecurity solutions for CPAs. You’ll know the components of cybersecurity, why it is essential, and how to secure your data.
What is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is a continuous process of defending data, networks, applications, and endpoints from malicious attackers. It is a vast field and can be divided into a few common categories, such as:
- Operational Security – This field emphasizes securing processes, operations, and data assets.
- Network Security – As the name suggests, this field focuses on securing the networks from hackers.
- Application Security – This area of cybersecurity is about protecting applications, OS, and devices from threats.
Types of Cyber Threats
Common types of cyber threats CPAs face are:
Malware is any malicious software intentionally designed and created to disrupt the functioning of any computer or computer application. Some common types of malware are:
b) Denial of Service Attack
A Denial of Service (DoS) attack is a cyberattack in which a cybercriminal bombards your network with unwanted requests to overload it.
In phishing, cybercriminals act as a legitimate body or source and send emails seeking sensitive information.
d) SQL Injection
SQL injection, also known as Structured Query Language injection, is an attacking technique in which hackers aim to damage your database.
Check out this free eBook for more information on the different types of cyber attacks.
Why Do CPAs Need Cybersecurity Solutions?
Data breaches at top companies make it to the headlines, but attackers prefer SMBs as they are easier to target. Thus, small and medium businesses (SMBs), especially CPA and accounting firms, are at significant risk of being attacked.
Why? CPA firms have access to valuable information and have less security than large companies – exactly what attackers are looking for.
Cyberattacks are frustrating and scary for CPA firms as well as their customers. Experts say that small businesses find it hard to recover from such attacks, and some lose their business altogether. They also lose the trust and faith of their customers and have to work very hard to achieve the same level.
How to Build a Cybersecurity Strategy for Your CPA Firm?
With all the information above, it is clear that a robust cybersecurity solution for CPAs is a must. You need to develop a cybersecurity strategy to keep cybercriminals away from your data. Below are some points to help you keep your information safe.
1. Understand Your Vulnerabilities
First, to create a cybersecurity solution for your CPA firm, you need to be aware of your vulnerabilities. If you do not know your weak points, you cannot fix them. Start by identifying the most sensitive information your company stores.
These could be anything from your customers’ tax details to the details of their assets and revenue gains. How tight is the security of such information? Where is this data stored? Once you answer these questions, you can analyze your data’s risk level.
Understand and map the sequence in which your data moves – its collection, storage, and release points. Think about the sources from where a data breach is most likely. Also, consider the consequences for you and your clients of a cyberattack.
2. Protect Your Passwords
The most common way to authorize any access is via a password. Passwords are so popular because they are free to use. However, passwords are not as secure as fingerprints or iris scans and are open to attacks.
Attackers can easily detect weak passwords in a few minutes with the help of automated tools. They also have cracked open multiple other methods to lure people into sharing their passwords (like a phishing attack). Also, people do not protect documents with sensitive information or use weak passwords that are easy to remember. All these scenarios are open invitations to attackers.
These are the steps below to create and protect your password:
- Create a strong password that no one can guess.
- Create different passwords for different services.
- Change your password frequently.
- Choose multi-factor authentication.
- Use a password manager.
- Do not share your password with anyone.
3. Educate Your Employees About Cybersecurity
You might have set up the most secure IT infrastructure, but attackers try to find their way into your network by targeting the most vulnerable point – your employees. For instance, if your employees are unaware of the best cybersecurity practices, they can easily click on a phishing email and let attackers access your network.
Thus, educating your staff about the basics of cybersecurity and best practices is as important as helping them develop their skills. Practicing good cyber-hygiene is the responsibility of every employee of your CPA firm. It’s a central component of a good cybersecurity solution for CPAs.
You must educate them about phishing emails. For instance, you can create an exercise where they can differentiate between a fake and genuine email. Another step is to conduct regular training sessions as cyberattack methods keep evolving with time.
4. Protect Data Created by Remote Workers
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, most CPA firms have embraced remote and hybrid work. The remote employees perform all their tasks via the Internet. This means that they are dealing with sensitive information without the secure IT infrastructure of their office, increasing the risk of a data breach.
Also, most methods mentioned above won’t be effective if your workforce is remote, especially if they use an insecure network.
You must ensure that all your remote employees use a secure network to access company data. Creating an endpoint management strategy to manage your employees would be better. Another wise step is to use a VPN. This way, they will first access your office network and then access the company data securely.
5. Utilize Managed Security Services
Successfully implementing and operating a comprehensive cybersecurity infrastructure is challenging for CPA firms. Most CPA firms lack the in-house resources and expertise required for cybersecurity management, and building an in-house team can cost big bucks.
Managed security services will equip your CPA firm with advanced cybersecurity tools and technologies and instantly enhance your security posture.
With an MSSP, you will get 24*7 monitoring, proactive threat detection, endpoint and network protection, and instant threat response. The dedication, resource efficiency, and cost benefits of managed security services make them an even more attractive option.
As the Internet and other technologies keep evolving, so do the hacking techniques. Protecting clients’ critical information from data breaches falls on you. CPAs need a multi-layered cybersecurity solution to keep up with rising cyberattacks. And the best way to achieve that is with a trustworthy managed security service provider.
With 14+ years of cloud hosting experience, Ace Cloud Hosting is well-equipped to combat malicious cyber threats. ACE Managed Security Services offer a range of cybersecurity services that will scale up your security posture and give you relief from the constant threat of data breaches.