Top 11 Cybersecurity Threats Accounting Firms Should Watch in [2024]

In today’s accounting world, where computers help us work better, keeping our data safe is super important. Some new numbers show just how much we need to watch out. A report from CrowdStrike says there’s been a big 95% jump in bad guys leaking data from ransomware attacks between 2020 and 2022.

And guess what?

Since COVID-19 started, cyberattacks on accounting firms shot up by a whopping 300%, as shared by Accounting Today. So, you see, keeping things secure online is a big deal for accountants now.

As we talk about the top 11 security problems for 2024, these numbers remind us why we need managed security services for accounting and it would be super careful.

Cybersecurity Landscape in 2024

In 2024, the cybersecurity landscape is a dynamic battleground, where technological advancements clash with evolving threats, urging firms to fortify their defenses in an era of heightened digital risks.

General State of Cybersecurity

As we step into 2024, the cybersecurity landscape stands at a crossroads of challenges and advancements. Continuous innovation in technology fuels both the defenders and the threat actors, shaping a dynamic environment. Cybersecurity, once a protective measure, now evolves as a proactive necessity.

The prevalence of interconnected systems and the rise of sophisticated threats create a scenario where adaptability is paramount. The general state of cybersecurity underscores the ongoing battle between security measures and evolving attack vectors, emphasizing the need for resilience and agility.

Trends Shaping the Threat Landscape for Accounting Firms

Cyber security for accounting firms is crucial in 2024. Because, the growing sophistication of phishing attacks exploits human vulnerabilities, posing a significant risk. Ransomware, evolving with more potent strains, continues to target financial institutions. Insider threats amplify, requiring a balance between trust and vigilance.

More accounting and CPA firms are adopting cloud-based solutions that offer cybersecurity. Because, advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) become stealthier, demanding advanced detection methods. The integration of Internet of Things (IoT) devices introduces new vulnerabilities. Recognizing these trends is crucial for accounting firms to fortify their defenses in the face of emerging cyber challenges.

What Are Top 11 Security Threats for Accounting Firms in 2024?

Following are top threats in accounting profession that you need to watch out in 2024:

1. Outdated Software

There are many instances where large tech companies failed to protect sensitive customer data despite investing in sophisticated security tools. The accounting firms are more vulnerable to malware and ransomware attacks as they have data, which can be of great value.

These attacks are more likely when the OS and applications are not updated. Hence, it is always critical for accounting firms to keep their software (OS, business software, browsers, and others) up to date.

Also, they must choose the right software and applications to store sensitive financial information. They even need to communicate and share data over secured networks and install trusted anti-malware software at each endpoint.

Managed security services for accountants ensure that all critical software is updated with the latest security patches. The security service providers monitor your system 24*7 for malware-related suspicious activities.

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2. Data Breaches Caused by Employees

Many accounting firms are adopting cloud accounting to facilitate flexible access to accounting software from various devices and locations. With the integration of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, employees often use personal devices for business purposes. However, these devices may lack essential security features and updates, posing potential risks to data safety.

To mitigate these risks, accounting firms implementing BYOD strategies should mandate the use of specific apps and solutions for accessing and sharing sensitive client data. Additionally, employees must regularly erase client data from their devices and install robust antivirus software.

In the era of increasing phishing and social engineering threats, employees with access to critical data become vulnerable targets. Accounting security measures should include awareness training to recognize and avoid malicious links. Moreover, partnering with managed security service providers becomes essential for monitoring all employee endpoint devices, ensuring proactive detection of suspicious or negligent activities.

Suggested Reading: 3 Key Industries Benefiting from MSSP: BFSI, Healthcare & Retail Sector

3. Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks continue to be a pervasive threat in accounting, evolving with heightened sophistication. Cybercriminals employ increasingly cunning tactics, manipulating human psychology and exploiting trust. The arsenal of phishing techniques includes deceptive emails, malicious attachments, and fraudulent websites that mirror legitimate platforms.

These attacks often target accounting companies, posing a severe risk to financial data integrity. To combat this menace, organizations must prioritize ongoing cybersecurity education, employ advanced email filtering systems, and cultivate a culture of suspicion to ensure robust defense against the ever-evolving landscape of phishing threats.

4. Ransomware

In 2024, ransomware emerges as a formidable threats for accountants, exhibiting a resurgence with more potent strains. This breed of malware encrypts sensitive data, demanding payment for its release, wreaking havoc on financial institutions, including accounting firms.

Evolving tactics involve increasingly sophisticated encryption methods, making retrieval challenging. The financial sector remains a prime target due to the high stakes involved. Accounting firms, entrusted with sensitive financial data, must fortify defenses through robust cybersecurity measures, regular data backups, and employee training to thwart the growing threat of ransomware and protect the integrity of financial transactions.

Also Read: Benefits of Managed Security Services

5. Cloud Security Concerns

As accounting firms transition to cloud-based systems for enhanced accessibility, concerns about data security loom large. The adoption of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies introduces potential vulnerabilities, as personal devices may lack necessary security features.

To counter these risks, accountants must enforce specific apps and solutions for handling sensitive client data, coupled with regular data wipes and robust antivirus installations on employees’ devices. Moreover, the shift to cloud-based platforms necessitates stringent measures to safeguard against unauthorized access and data breaches.

When we talk cyber security for accounting firms they must prioritize comprehensive cloud security protocols, fostering a secure environment for financial data and ensuring compliance with industry regulations.

6. Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs)

Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) emerge as silent adversaries, demanding heightened attention from accounting firms in 2024. APTs represent highly sophisticated and persistent cyber attacks, often orchestrated by skilled threat actors with specific targets in mind.

As APTs continually evolve to bypass traditional security measures, accounting firms face the pressing need for advanced detection methods. Vigilance becomes paramount to identify subtle signs of unauthorized access or data compromise.

Navigating this landscape requires a proactive cybersecurity approach, encompassing continuous monitoring, threat intelligence integration, and strategic response mechanisms to thwart the stealthy advancements of APTs and safeguard the integrity of financial data.

7. Internet of Things (IoT) Vulnerabilities

In the era of heightened connectivity, the integration of Internet of Things (IoT) devices in accounting processes introduces a new frontier of vulnerabilities. These interconnected devices, while enhancing efficiency, also pose security risks in accounting.

As accounting firms embrace IoT, potential vulnerabilities arise from inadequate security measures. Cybercriminals may exploit these entry points, risking unauthorized access or data manipulation. To fortify defenses, firms must prioritize robust security protocols for IoT devices, including regular updates, encryption, and monitoring.

Fight against emerging threats in the IoT landscape becomes imperative, ensuring that connectivity advancements do not compromise the security and confidentiality of financial data within accounting systems.

8. Supply Chain Attacks

The interconnected web of supply chains in accounting companies faces escalating threasts and risks, with the specter of supply chain attacks. These attacks exploit vulnerabilities in the dependencies between firms and their third-party vendors, posing a substantial threat to the integrity of financial data.

As accounting firms rely on external partners, the need to fortify the supply chain against cyber threats becomes imperative. Implementing rigorous vetting processes, continuous monitoring, and collaboration with trusted vendors are essential steps. By bolstering these defenses, CPA firms can proactively safeguard against supply chain attacks, mitigating risks and preserving the trustworthiness of their financial operations.

9. Social Engineering

In the intricate dance between trust and trickery, social engineering emerges as a potent threat to accounting firms. Cyber adversaries leverage psychological manipulation to exploit employees with access to critical data, leading them to unwittingly click on malicious links or disclose confidential information.

As the tactics of deception evolve, accounting firms must prioritize employee awareness training. Recognizing and thwarting social engineering attempts becomes crucial for maintaining the integrity of financial data.

The ever-growing sophistication of these attacks necessitates constant vigilance, making employee education and proactive cybersecurity measures the frontline defense against the subtle art of social engineering in the digital world.

10. Data Breaches

The ominous specter of data breaches casts a shadow over accounting firms in 2024, underscoring the critical importance of safeguarding confidential information. In the digital age, where vast volumes of financial data traverse networks, the consequences of a breach can be severe.

To fortify defenses, accountants must adopt robust cybersecurity solutions for accounting firms, including encryption, access controls, and regular security audits. In the event of a breach, a swift and strategic response is imperative to mitigate the fallout and uphold client trust.

As data breaches evolve in sophistication, the resilience of accounting firms hinges on their commitment to proactive cybersecurity practices and unwavering dedication to preserving the confidentiality of financial information.

11. Regulatory Compliance Challenges

In the evolving landscape of cybersecurity, regulatory compliance takes center stage for accounting firms in 2024. Navigating the complex web of regulations becomes a major challenge, as the digital era introduces new dimensions of risk.

As regulatory frameworks tighten, accounting firms must stay abreast of compliance requirements, ensuring the protection of financial data aligns with industry standards. Striking a balance between innovation and compliance becomes crucial.

This involves investing in technologies that not only enhance efficiency but also adhere to stringent cybersecurity regulations. By proactively addressing regulatory compliance challenges, accounting firms can foster a secure operational environment while upholding the trust and confidence of clients and regulatory bodies alike.

Other Threats in Accounting Department

12. Weak Passwords

A common mistake that accounting professionals make is setting up weak passwords for their accounts. The accountants need to set up separate passwords for their email, system, or applications. However, they tend to use the same password for all the accounts. Consequently, if the hackers get hold of one password, they can access all the accounts. 

Accountants need to set strong passwords for all their accounts. A strong password combines alphabets, special characters, and numerals. They should refrain from using identifiable information like name or date of birth as their password.

13. Remote Data Access

Many accounting firms leverage cloud-based computing to enable employees to access accounting software and client data remotely over the internet. The cloud-based services and solutions even help accounting businesses to operate in distributed environments. However, remote data access makes it easier for hackers to steal and misuse clients’ sensitive financial data. 

Managed security services for accounting firms ensure that critical data is secure and backed up. Next-generation managed firewall services protect your cloud perimeter from malicious traffic and potential breaches. 

Managed security services also include identity and access management, ensuring an added level of cybersecurity for accountants.

FAQs – Cyber Security for Accounting Firms

Why are accounting firms particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks?

Accounting firms handle sensitive financial data, making them lucrative targets. The accounting data breach to get client information makes them attractive to cybercriminals.

How can accounting firms protect against phishing attacks?

Implement employee training, use specific apps for data sharing, and install robust antivirus software. Vigilance and education are key defenses.

What role does a managed security service provider play in cybersecurity for accountants?

They offer expertise accountants often lack, providing tailored security strategies, monitoring endpoints, and ensuring a proactive defense against evolving threats.

How can IoT vulnerabilities impact accounting firms?

Inadequately secured IoT devices create entry points for cybercriminals, risking unauthorized access and data manipulation within accounting systems.

Why is regulatory compliance crucial for accounting firms in cybersecurity?

Compliance ensures adherence to industry standards, protecting financial data. Staying compliant balances innovation with the imperative to secure sensitive information.

How can employees protect against social engineering attacks?

Employee awareness training is vital. Recognizing and avoiding malicious links and deceptive tactics are crucial defenses against social engineering threats.

What steps should accounting companies should take after a data breach?

Swift and strategic response is key. Activate incident response plans, notify affected parties, and enhance security measures to mitigate fallout and rebuild trust.

How does ACE Managed Security Services assist accounting firms?

ACE provides a free security consultation, assessing current cybersecurity posture and offering expert recommendations. Their tailored strategies ensure optimal defense against cyber threats.

Wrapping Up

Accounting firms are more vulnerable to targeted cyberattacks than other businesses. No accounting firm can sustain growth, maintain a good reputation, and prevent revenue loss without detecting and preventing emerging security threats on time.  Since accountants are generally not skilled in cybersecurity, a partnership with a managed security service provider is their best bet against cybersecurity threats.

ACE Managed Security Services provides FREE security consultation with leading security experts. Our team assesses your current cybersecurity posture and recommends the best security strategy for you. If you are concerned about your level of cybersecurity, one session with ACE experts will put your mind at ease and show you the way forward. 

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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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