CPAs are responsible for handling sensitive financial data, making them prime targets for cybercriminals. In recent years, there has been a surge in cyberattacks on accounting firms, resulting in costly data breaches and reputational damage.
To protect their clients and their own businesses, CPAs must implement robust cybersecurity measures. This blog post will provide a comprehensive guide to cybersecurity for CPAs, covering the following topics:
- Common cyber threats facing CPAs
- Cybersecurity best practices for CPAs
- How to develop a cybersecurity plan for your CPA firm
- Resources for CPAs on cybersecurity
Common cyber threats facing CPAs
CPAs are vulnerable to a wide range of cyber threats, including:
- Phishing attacks: Phishing attacks are attempts to trick users into revealing sensitive information, such as passwords or credit card numbers, by sending fraudulent emails or text messages that appear to be from legitimate sources.
- Malware: Malware is malicious software that can be used to steal data, damage computer systems, or disrupt operations. Malware can be spread through email attachments, malicious links, or infected USB drives.
- Ransomware: Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts a victim's data and demands a ransom payment in exchange for the decryption key.
- Data breaches: Data breaches occur when unauthorized individuals gain access to sensitive data, such as client financial records or employee Social Security numbers. Data breaches can be caused by a variety of factors, including cyberattacks, human error, and insider threats.
Cybersecurity best practices for CPAs
CPAs can protect themselves and their clients from cyber threats by implementing the following best practices:
- Use strong passwords and multi-factor authentication (MFA): Strong passwords are at least 12 characters long and include a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to enter a code from their phone in addition to their password when logging in.
- Keep software up to date: Software updates often include security patches that can help to protect your systems from known vulnerabilities. Make sure to install software updates as soon as they are available.
- Be careful about what emails you open and what links you click on: Phishing attacks are one of the most common ways that cybercriminals gain access to sensitive data. Be wary of emails from unknown senders, and never click on links in emails unless you are sure they are legitimate.
- Educate your employees about cybersecurity: Employees are often the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain. It is important to educate your employees about common cyber threats and how to avoid them.
How to develop a cybersecurity plan for your CPA firm
To develop a cybersecurity plan for your CPA firm, you should first identify your firm's assets and the threats they face. Once you have identified your assets and threats, you can develop and implement security controls to mitigate the risks.
Your cybersecurity plan should include the following elements:
- Security policies: Security policies define the rules and procedures that employees must follow to protect the firm's assets.
- Technical security controls: Technical security controls include firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and encryption to protect the firm's systems and data.
- Administrative security controls: Administrative security controls include access control procedures, change management procedures, and incident response procedures.
THE VECTOR CHOICE ADVANTAGEVector Choice is here to assist with your CPA cybersecurity needs. We offer IT services and solutions for finance businesses including cybersecurity, business intelligence, cloud computing and compliance consulting. We offer a free FTC Compliance eBook, a free Ultra-Fast PEN Test Lite, and more!
To protect yourself from financial losses caused by cyber attacks, read about it here: Cyber Insurance: FTC & PCI Compliance.
If you are interested in learning more about Vector Choice and what we can do to protect your business's and client's sensitive information, schedule a free 10-minute discovery call today!