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Cybersecurity for accounting: Threats and solutions

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Few industries are more appealing to cybercriminals than the finance sector. Ripe for exploiting personal data and financial transactions, it’s easy to see why finance businesses have gotten cagier over the rising — and increasingly sophisticated — cases of cybercrime. Accounting firms, especially small ones, are particularly vulnerable, as these companies host a treasure trove of highly sensitive information and often have limited cybersecurity resources to protect them. To help them, we explore the major threats currently affecting the accounting world, and practical solutions for addressing each concern.

The rise of phishing attacks

Phishing has experienced an alarming rise in recent times, comprising 36% of all data breaches in the United States in 2023. This deceptive tactic uses various forms of social engineering, such as spoofed emails and urgent requests, to trick individuals into revealing sensitive information or clicking on malicious links. Such strategies have only gotten more sophisticated, as hackers now use convincing texts or SMS (also known as “smishing”) to carry out their ploys. Oftentimes, these scams expose systems to ransomware, which prevents firms from accessing their data until a ransom is paid.

How to prevent phishing attacks

To avert or mitigate phishing attempts, it’s important for your employees to be aware of the tactics used by cybercriminals. Regular training on phishing awareness and best practices can help workers recognize suspicious emails and avoid clicking on potentially harmful links. Additionally, the implementation of multifactor authentication (MFA) and advanced email filtering systems can provide an extra layer of security against phishing.

Emerging technologies and compliance challenges

As accounting firms embrace emerging technologies such as the cloud and Internet of Things (IoT), they’ll likely encounter various new cybersecurity and compliance challenges. The integration of IoT devices, in particular, poses new risks, as the devices may lack adequate security measures. Hackers can leverage these entry points to gain unauthorized access to financial data or manipulate accounting processes. 

Additionally, extensive cloud-based supply chain management creates a lot of communication data for criminals to target. Failure to maintain secure communications or protect data in the cloud can result in regulatory violations, legal consequences, financial penalties, and damage to your firm’s reputation.

How to stay compliant while leveraging new technologies

To minimize compliance challenges while maximizing the benefits of the latest IT tools, your firm must establish clear policies and procedures for using new technologies. Regular security audits can help you identify potential vulnerabilities, while ongoing compliance training teaches your employees to understand their responsibilities and obligations. This same training could also help ensure that employees equip all new software and devices with adequate cybersecurity tools and keep them up to date with the latest security patches.

The cybersecurity risks of remote work

The increasing shift to remote work has introduced many new security concerns alongside the benefits. With employees now managing sensitive data from unsecured home networks, the risk of data breaches and unauthorized access has increased. Pair this with the rise in cloud migration to help accommodate these remote work arrangements, and the result is a fresh wave of cloud-based security risks to address.

How to secure remote workers

To address these challenges, it’s important for companies to strengthen their remote security protocols. For instance, transitioning to intelligent cloud solutions for data storage and access can offer a more secure environment for remote workers. Centralizing data on the cloud can also make it easier to implement robust measures such as encryption and access controls. Additionally, consider enforcing strict bring your own device (BYOD) policies while ensuring regular updates for employee devices. These steps can help mitigate the risk of data breaches among remote workers.

Inconsistent security training

Low-quality security training can often leave your employees vulnerable to the latest cybercrime tactics. The latest findings from Verizon show that a significant portion of breaches, around 68%, result from human error. These incidents, more often than not, involve falling victim to a social engineering or phishing attack. With these criminal activities on the rise, accounting firms can’t afford poor security knowledge and negligent practices.

How to ensure proper security training

To ensure workers are well equipped to handle common cyberthreats, it’s important for companies to have a comprehensive security training program in place. Be sure to include simulated phishing attacks or data breaches to provide hands-on experience for employees, helping them practically build the skills needed to identify and mitigate potential risks. Regular updates on emerging threats and changes in security protocols also ensures your workplace stays informed and vigilant in their efforts. Furthermore, your training should be tailored to specific roles and responsibilities, as different departments may face their own unique security challenges.

Secure your accounting operations today with the latest tools in cybersecurity. Our team at predictiveIT can get you started by guiding you through our comprehensive selection of managed security services. Agile, cost-efficient, and providing round-the-clock support, we offer all you need to keep your financial business reliable and protected. Keep cybercriminals at bay — schedule a consultation today.