In our world of advancing technology, cybersecurity has become a vital concern for individuals and businesses. This is especially true for accounting professionals, who frequently handle large amounts of confidential personal and financial data. In this article, we’ll explore effective ways for accounting professionals to enhance cybersecurity.
Stay informed with consistent training
Accounting professionals should sign up regularly for cybersecurity webinars, training, or awareness programs. This can significantly reduce the risk that they will become a victim of a cyber attack by keeping up with new and evolving threats.
Spam is an ever-present threat. Most of it is easy to identify but some of it is truly insidious in nature, and sometimes, it’s much more cleverly disguised. On-going training helps people remain vigilant and introduces them to new forms of attacks in a safe way. Having this awareness can prevent the errant-minded clicks that cause computers to become compromised.
Don’t ignore all spam. Instead, take a screenshot of well-crafted pieces to share with your group as an example of what new and innovative scams they should be aware of.
While spam is the most constant and visible threat, training can also cover other important topics like how to prevent and mitigate hardware theft, stolen (snail) mail, and other topics that could lead to a breach. It’s worth noting that while these types of attack are more unusual, they are not unheard of.
Enhance access control
Another way to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information is to implement strong access controls. A few easy ways to enhance access security are:
- use multi-factor authentication,
- follow strong password policies, and
- consistently review and update user access.
Additionally, PMP (password management protection) or stealth logins can be used to prevent unauthorized parties from gaining access to login information. This is achieved by encrypting the username and password and restricting access to particular IP addresses.
Prioritize network security
To help ensure firewalls, intrusion detection systems (IDS), antivirus, and anti-malware software are current, accounting professionals should regularly update and apply security patches to all of their systems. Additionally, by conducting recurring vulnerability assessments, system weaknesses can be identified before they are exploited by cybercriminals. Another highly recommended security feature for accounting professionals is a VPN (virtual private network). A VPN offers a higher level of security by encrypting all communication using AES (advanced encryption standard).
Always have a backup
Accounting professionals should develop a comprehensive backup strategy to prevent data loss in the event of a cyber attack. The plan should ensure all financial data is regularly backed up to a cloud-based solution or stored in secure, offsite locations.
Secure cyber insurance
Taking measures to strengthen cybersecurity is vital, but it doesn’t eliminate all risks. To cover the gaps, accounting firms should secure cyber insurance to cover legal costs or other expenses associated with data breaches or loss.
Establish an incident response plan
An incident response plan is critical in the event of a security breach. The plan should include:
- communication protocols,
- the responsibilities of team members, and
- the process for containing and mitigating the impact of an incident.
In summary, as the accounting industry continues to rely heavily on technology, the importance of cybersecurity cannot be overstated. By adopting a proactive approach to cybersecurity and implementing the best practices outlined in this blog, accounting professionals can protect sensitive data and significantly reduce cyber threats.
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