security tips cpa

More and more companies are relying on outsourced service providers rather of employing full-time employees. One of the most frequently outsourced business services is accounting. A business’s data must be secured from both internal faults and external threats in order to be successful.

Now the question that comes forward is why. “Why does Accounting Security holds such a high importance?” Let us explain it to you with some statistics to show the severity of the problem.

  • A Clark School study at the University of Maryland is one of the first to quantify the near-constant rate of hacker attacks of computers with Internet access
  • Every 39 seconds on average, affecting one in three Americans every year
  • And, the non-secure usernames and passwords we use that give attackers more chance of success.
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  • As per World Backup Day, 1 in 10 computers are infected with viruses each month.
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  • Malware Spread:

SonicWALL recorded 2.8 billion malware hits in the United States in 2020 — nearly nine times the next-highest ranked (U.K., with 322 million.)

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  • In the Mid-Year Update to last year’s SonicWALL Cyber Threat Report, it was noted a 20% year-over-year jump in ransomware.
  • That 20% increase turned into a 40% increase by Quarter3. But with past years showing a drop-off toward the end of the year, there was still room for some (very cautious) optimism that things might yet turn around.
Unfortunately, they never did, and 2020 ended with ransomware up a staggering 62% worldwide.
global ransomware attacks

What is an Intrusion Attempt?

An intrusion attempt is a security event in which an intruder, hacker, cybercriminal or threat actor attempts to gain access to a system or resource without authorization.
intrusion-attempts

Now that we know the severity of the issue let us help you with prevention and control security methodologies.

Here are our Top 12 security tips for CPA firms and Accounting firms to keep your company – and your clients – protected.

  1. Manage Your Passwords:

To keep your computer safe, all you need to do is follow this simple action: You can use a password manager to save and share your username and password with the rest of your team in a secure location.

No matter how many staff you have, you’ll find this tool useful.

One of them is LastPass. It is very simple to use and goes with you everywhere, on all your devices. Investopedia has listed it at the top of its list along with pros and cons.

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You can go through other options for password managers listed on Investopedia at here.

  1. Secure the Physical:

Your data may be at risk even if your network is impenetrable but your facility is not. Implementing card key access, visitor logs, and badges will help keep your office safe from trespassers.

You may also want to limit access to certain departments and areas to only those who have been assigned to them.

As a last resort, have staff members lock up their personal gadgets at night in a safe place rather than using cable locks on their desks.

  1. Use a VPN in Public Wi-Fi Areas:

Passwords, social security numbers, and bank account numbers are just a few of the sensitive data that can be taken if you connect to a public Wi-Fi network.

By utilising a Virtual Private Network (VPN), this problem can be resolved.

The VPN enable employees to connect to the corporate network and access apps, files, printers, and other business resources as if they were in the office. Individuals, on the other hand, utilise consumer-grade or personal VPNs to encrypt their data and hide their location when connecting to unprotected public networks like those found at airports, libraries, and coffee shops.

G2.com has listed various VPN softwares details at here. They have listed NordVPN at the top of the list. Below is screenshot from that article.

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  1. Backup Your Files:

A lot of personal and confidential information is generated and saved by accounting companies for your business and your clients.

Consider all of the spreadsheets you’ve worked on for hours on end. Make sure that this data is backed up on a daily basis and that it is always current.

For e.g. pCloud is a secure and easy-to-use document backup solution. This tool enables you to collaborate and exchange files with your employees.

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Check out a blog from guru99 29 alternatives to back up your files.
  1. Backup Your Cloud Accounting Data:

Businesses are increasingly using cloud accounting programmes like Xero and QuickBooks Online.

You should back up this data at least once a month as these systems can go down at any time. Physical copies of these documents could be much more beneficial to you.

For e.g. Acronis Cyber Protect is one of the best SaaS backup software. For more among the Top 10 alternatives, you can visit G2.

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  1. Two Factor Authentication:

With two-factor authentication, hackers will have a much harder time gaining access to your accounts, even if they have the passwords.

Apps such as Google Authenticator produce six-digit codes that are only valid on the device you’re using to log in. Make sure you and your team members implement two-factor authentication for any programme you use.

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  1. Install Malware scanners & Anti-Virus software on All Computers:

Malware is unquestionably a severe danger to your business or organisation. Antivirus software should be installed on every computer in your small business.

  1. Training on Security & Limit App Permissions:

Your company’s staff should be well-versed in the most common security threats that may arise. The on boarding process should include a refresher course every quarter or so for users who are exposed to a hack.

And you don’t have to spend a fortune on the most cutting-edge technologies for your training either. Alternatively, you may just gather some relevant articles and videos from the internet and distribute them to your staff.

The chance of a data breach or security issue would increase if all of your employees had access to or interaction with everything in your company. Permissions may be configured in most app services and systems today.

  1. Install separate router at your home:

If your Wi-Fi network isn’t secure, your private data could be at risk.

If you work from home, your computer may be compromised if your children, who may not be familiar with cybersecurity, gain access to your Wi-Fi. A separate router for your small business can be a safe idea to keep physical security in check.

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  1. Send Password Protect Sensitive Docs to Clients:

This includes tax returns, financial statements, credentials and other sensitive financial data. Accountants use email to communicate this information Send password-protected files.

  1. Be Ready for Data Recovery Plan:

Don’t let your guard down after all that hard work setting up your accounting system; you will almost certainly experience data breaches or loss at some point.

Having a current data recovery plan and appropriate security practises in place ahead of time will help you restore your financial information swiftly in this situation.

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  1. Check Security Measures for New Software or Apps You Use:

On the website of reputable software, it should be clearly stated how the software protects its users. You should make sure you’re comfortable with the procedures of any new software before signing up for it.

security-measures

Many business owners are concerned about the security of their accounting data when they decide to outsource tax preparation or their accounting responsibilities. When it comes to protecting your company’s data, you must be just as vigilant as your own employees.

Checking references and confirming that the outsourced accounting services providers meet all of the fundamental security criteria will help you avoid security breaches. Encryption technology used by providers on their websites, as well as measures they take to track location and data, must be taken into account by you.

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