Importance of Cybersecurity Awareness Training for Employees in Tax Season [2024]

Tax season 2024 is ongoing, and the tax firms are busy handling their clients’ taxes. However, cybersecurity is one aspect most tax firms ignore during the tax season.

Like tax professionals, the tax season is also the favorite time for cybercriminals. This is because the tax firms can access their clients’ confidential and critical information.

The cybercriminals’ preferred method of stealing money from the IRS is identity fraud. They can pose as individuals by stealing their identity and asking for a tax refund from the IRS. As per NBC News, there were around 294,138 complaints of identity theft reported to the IRS.

However, the question arises of how these hackers can steal the identity of individual taxpayers. For identity theft, the hackers need the individuals’ confidential information that they obtain from various cyber attacks, such as phishing or ransomware.

As per Stanford University Professor Jeff Hancock and security firm Tessian, employee mistakes lead to 88 percent of data breach events. The most common of these attacks is phishing.

A phishing attack sends a malicious link or file to an employee’s inbox. When the employee opens the link or attachment, ransomware infects your system, compromising critical data.

Hence, during the tax season, your employees are the first line of defense for data breaches. If your employees are aware and vigilant, the chances of data breaches will reduce significantly.

You must conduct regular cybersecurity awareness training to educate the employees about the various threats.

The Importance of Cybersecurity Awareness Training

Risk Management

In this digital tax filing landscape, cybersecurity awareness training empowers your employees to know various cybersecurity threats. Once the employees become aware of them, they can adopt the best practices and protocols to prevent them. This significantly reduces the risk of cyberattacks.

Employee Vigilance

Cybersecurity awareness training during the tax season makes tax professionals vigilant during their daily operations. Hence, whenever they open an email and see a suspicious link, they will think twice before opening it. Employee awareness training also educates employees on identifying a bad link, maintaining excellent password hygiene, and opening harmful websites.

Reputation Management

Any data breach can make your tax firm’s reputation go for a toss. In this world, word of mouth can spread as wildfire. Hence, even if one client’s data is compromised during the tax season, it can prove catastrophic.

Cybersecurity awareness training program minimizes the chances of a data breach due to human error. Moreover, organizing cybersecurity training before and during tax season gives a solid message to the clients that you take the security of your client’s data extremely seriously.

Also Read: Managed Security Services for Accountants – What They Need to Know

Extra Layer of Security

Nowadays, various advanced cybersecurity solutions are available in the market, such as firewalls, antivirus, and anti-malware. These solutions safeguard data against various data breach efforts by hackers.

However, as the primary method of attack by cybercriminals is exploiting human sentiment, employees become the prime reason for data breaches. For instance, an employee might get an email with a discount link to their famous product.

Security awareness training minimizes the chances of a data breach due to human error.

Business Continuity

Business Continuity is essential for any tax firm. However, during the tax season, it becomes imperative. A small mistake by your employees can halt your operations indefinitely, causing irreparable damage.

Awareness training program for cybersecurity ensures continuous business operations by eliminating common human errors, such as opening a malicious email.

Capital Preservation

The cost of a data breach can be fatal for a tax firm. Significantly, when you expect an influx of new clients during the tax season, any news of a data breach can cost you significantly. Moreover, it can cause some of your present clients to lose faith in the firm, making them leave.

Also Read: Top Cybersecurity Trends for 2024

Cybersecurity Awareness Training: Best Practices

Cybersecurity awareness training should be a vital exercise for all tax firms. However, with a suitable training module and protocols, employees might grasp the concept of cybersecurity.

Here are some best practices to include in cybersecurity awareness training.

Prioritize Risk Assessment

Most organizations make the mistake of making the security assessment training generic. It merely educates the employees about the various threats that can occur during the tax season and how to prevent them. However, they fail to inform the employees which risk is more fatal than others.

To create an effective training program, you must set different risk levels for cyber threats based on the damage they can cause. According to it, you can set escalation levels and time for each cyber threat.

Make the Training Interactive

A cybersecurity awareness program is for all employees of the organization. Hence, if you make the training too complex, the tax professionals will lose interest very quickly. They might also need help with the technicality of cyber threats and following best practices.

Make the training interactive with Q&A sessions so the employees can resolve their queries instantly. Also, technical jargon should be avoided during cybersecurity awareness training. It would help if you could include real-life scenarios in the training.

Provide Live Training

Cybersecurity awareness training is all about mitigating cyber threats in real time. Educating the employees through PPTs and videos is good, but employees are tested when the threat occurs in real life.

To give employees a real-life experience, you can give them live training, such as phishing attack simulations. For instance, you can provide employees with a series of emails from which they need to identify the malicious emails. It helps employees gain confidence as they gain practical and theoretical knowledge.

Reward Employees

Rewards are a part of any effective training program. It is an excellent idea to reward employees in a cybersecurity training program. Rewarding employees encourages them to be more vigilant of cyber threats while working.

You can give different rewards for identifying a potential cyberattack, escalating a cyber threat on time, and others.

All-inclusive Participation

Cybersecurity awareness training should be an all-round organizational activity. Some companies make the mistake of making it team-specific, thinking others might not need it.

You should ensure that all organization members, including the executive members, attend cybersecurity training. Doing this makes the employees take the training seriously.

Be Prepared This Tax Season

Cybersecurity awareness training is a shield that keeps your firm’s data secure during the tax season. It makes the employees fully prepared for any cyber attack coming their way. If your firm has still not conducted cybersecurity awareness training for this tax season, it is recommended that you get started now.

Connect with our solutions consultant @ +1-855-223-4887 now if you want a secure cloud platform to keep your apps and data safe.

About Nolan Foster

With 20+ years of expertise in building cloud-native services and security solutions, Nolan Foster spearheads Public Cloud and Managed Security Services at Ace Cloud Hosting. He is well versed in the dynamic trends of cloud computing and cybersecurity.
Foster offers expert consultations for empowering cloud infrastructure with customized solutions and comprehensive managed security.

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