While accounting firms have made great strides to embrace technology and provide clients with premium, on-demand services, there is still work to be done in the area of data security. Online ecosystems certainly foster an ease of doing business, but just as important as convenience is maintaining the security of your clients’ data. Even the most vigilant of firms can find themselves in high-risk cybersecurity situations that can lead to extensive cost and resource investment—including providing credit monitoring, communications efforts, and even forensic services. Worst of all, loss of client trust and a big hit to reputation rank among the highest of damages.
Data security policy and practice are no longer considered a nice-to-have, but a must-have in firms. This is especially important when you consider the continual rise of cybercrimes. The following tips aim to help firms avoid the heavy liability associated with a data breach. A roadmap of sorts, these tips offer a good start to implementing a sound security culture in your firm.
Make the move to the Cloud and stay there.
Many of today’s cloud technologies represent world-class systems in relation to data protection. From military-grade security and regular updates to daily back-ups, there is no safer place for your clients’ data than the cloud.
Protect your computers and network.
Don’t overlook the importance of firewall and antivirus protection to ward off viruses, spyware, and malware. Whether you have a dedicated IT professional or contract this function out, the goal is to make sure that every computer and network that is hosting client data is as protected as possible.
Implement a password policy.
Weak passwords are what cybercriminals look for. Every password in your firm should adhere to smart password protocol. This protocol includes longer passwords that are a mix of upper and lowercase letters, symbols and numbers are best. Passwords should also be changed on a scheduled basis. The first step is to develop an official password policy and make sure everyone is adhering to it.
Educate your team…and keep educating.
Seasoned cybercriminals target people, not just technical weakness. This means you also have to consider the human factor. Implement year-round, scheduled cybersecurity training for all staff so they are aware of all security policies. Also educate all staff on what to look for in terms of cyber threats.
Leading firms have worked for decades to establish client trust and a stellar reputation. Don’t allow cybercriminals to destroy all that you’ve built. Be aware, very aware, of your duty to protect your clients’ data and the security measures required to do so. This will reduce your liability and maintain your reputation as a trusted advisor.
If you are looking for more information or a road map to moving your firm to the cloud, visit us at rootworks.com.