In this age of cloud computing, businesses from all sectors are vulnerable to various cybersecurity threats. According to the CrowdStrike 2022 Global Threat Report, there has been an 82% increase in ransomware-related data leaks from 2020 to 2021.
However, accounting and financial firms are more susceptible to cybersecurity threats than businesses from other industries. Dealing with valuable financial information and confidential data makes them a prime target for cyberattacks.
According to Accounting Today, accounting firms have seen a 300% rise in cyberattacks since the start of the covid-19 pandemic. Cybersecurity has become a key area of focus for accountants.
Cybercriminals continuously quest to develop innovative attack tactics to access accounting clients’ banking information and financial transactions. Hence, it becomes essential for accounting firms to be aware of cybersecurity threats to prevent revenue loss and maintain a good reputation. While knowing the cybersecurity threats you can face is half the battle, this blog also tells you how managed security services for accountants are the best defense to combat those threats.
Table of Contents
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 Outdated Software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.
2. Data Breaches Caused by Employees
Many accounting firms these days switch to cloud accounting to enable employees to access accounting software on varying devices and from various locations. They even allow employees to bring and use their devices for business purposes. These devices mat lack the security features and updates required to keep the data safe.
While implementing the BYOD strategy, the accounting firms must compel employees to access and share sensitive client data using specific apps and solutions. The employees further need to erase the client data from their devices regularly and install robust antivirus software.
Employees are also increasingly vulnerable to phishing and social engineering attacks. Such cybersecurity threats target employees with access to critical data and trick them into clicking on malicious links or disclosing confidential information.
Accounting firms should partner with managed security service providers who monitor all employee endpoint devices for signs of suspicious or negligent activities.
Suggested Reading: 3 Key Industries Benefiting from MSSP: BFSI, Healthcare & Retail Sector
3. Not Assessing Security Risk
Unlike large accounting businesses, small and medium accounting firms often do not implement robust security strategies. However, they are all vulnerable to a variety of targeted security attacks, regardless of the size and location.
Many cybercriminals these days execute malware attacks by targeting small and medium accounting firms by taking advantage of inadequate data security.
No accounting firm can combat and prevent emerging security threats without assessing security risk on a regular basis. The security risk assessment in the accounting firms will help the firm to check the nature of client data being accessed by each employee and assess the effectiveness of the employee’s device to prevent targeted security attacks.
Also, the risk assessment will help the firm to evaluate and improve its security strategy according to the security vulnerabilities.
The benefit of managed security services for accountants is their regular cybersecurity posture assessments.
4. Data in Transit
While implementing a cybersecurity strategy, accounting firms must focus on protecting both data at rest and data in transit. Nowadays, accounting firms communicate externally and internally through multiple channels.
However, many accounting firms still communicate with clients over email. They even send bank statements, tax documents, and similar sensitive financial data as email attachments.
Many cybercriminals execute malware attacks such as ransomware to steal sensitive financial data of business in transit. The accounting firm must leverage email encryption mechanism to share and transfer confidential financial information securely. It must configure the email encryption solution to encrypt the emails and attachments automatically.
Most leading managed security services providers ensure managed email security for accounting firms. They provide data encryption, real-time email monitoring, email fraud protection, and spam filtering.
5. 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.
The advent of alternative financial transactions has compounded the fear of cybersecurity for accountants. Unlike conventional malware attacks, cryptojacking aims to mine cryptocurrencies on behalf of the hackers through unauthorized use of computing devices. The cybercriminals execute cryptocurrency mining attacks using phishing-like attacks. They even distribute crypto-mining malware through popular websites and as browser extensions.
With businesses from various sectors using cryptocurrencies for selling and purchasing goods, it becomes essential for accounting firms to keep in place a robust strategy to detect and prevent cryptojacking.
Accountants need to ensure that cryptocurrency cannot be mined through unauthorized use of employee computers. Also, the firm must implement a plan to recover from cryptojacking wholly and early.
Managed security services providers create customizable cybersecurity solutions for accounting and financial firms. Your firm is well-protected against industry-specific cybersecurity threats such as cryptojacking.
7. 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.
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.