Accountancy firms are an attractive target for cyber criminals and should stay extra vigilant against online attacks.
In a digital world, it’s likely your data will be stored on a PC or via a cloud-based account. However, this makes it more vulnerable to criminals who’re using increasingly sophisticated ways of obtaining private information.
The economic cost of cybercrime can be severe; telecommunications specialists Beaming report that nearly three million UK companies were targeted in 2016 at a total cost of £29.1 billion. Furthermore, according to the latest survey by KPMG, the cost of fraud has also risen by 22% in the past year – this illustrates that current protective measures aren’t necessarily working.
Because of this, it pays to have both offensive and defensive measures in place to protect against cyber-attacks. To help, we’ve put together a collection of ways to keep your accountancy firm safe.
Ensure cyber security remains at the forefront of your operation, reminding staff to stay vigilant to the threat. Always think the worst and cover all bases. Every small action can help – from shredding bank statements to vetting staff properly. Never reveal personal data to untrusted sources, if at all.
Remember that the vast majority of cyber criminals are still using rudimentary hacking attempts, such as email phishing scams and malware attacks. It’s imperative to identify suspect communication as malware is almost impossible to stop once infiltrated onto your system. Never open attachments from untrusted sources.
A good tip is to enrol staff on a phishing awareness course to help them spot the warning signs of a potential attack.
Your computer network must be up to date. Older operating systems, such as Windows XP, are more vulnerable to hacking attempts. Turn on automatic updates and install anti-virus software for added protection. If you use a wireless network, ensure your data is password protected.
Password security is another simple yet often-neglected area of cyber security. Automatic generator and management software will create strong passwords across multiple platforms, saving you the hassle of remembering different codes for various accounts.
Frequent backups provide fantastic peace of mind, as well as using external hard drives or cloud-based accounts that lie outside of your system. Encryption measures are also key, especially when making online payment or sending bank details.
For accountancy firms that distribute mobiles or tablets to staff, restrict access to some critical parts of the system. Reserve the right to wipe data remotely in case a device is lost or stolen.
Accountants are often a cyber criminal’s preferred target as they know lucrative financial information can be accessed at the click of a button. With this in mind, it may be advised to call in a cybersecurity consulting team.
These specialists will conduct penetration tests on your system, simulating phishing attempts and ensuring you’re compliant with various legal requirements. There are many cybersecurity companies available online who’ll provide a bespoke service for your accountancy firm.
If you found this article helpful, you might like to read our post covering the potential pitfalls when accountants go paperless. If you’d like to get in touch with the experts at DLR Accountants, contact us today!