Desktop computers, laptop computers, tablets, and cellphones all have capabilities that accountants could only dream of in previous years. However, those skills come at a cost. Breach, data theft, viruses, and ransomware are all risks that come with the advantages. Cybersecurity – keeping your data and that of your clients safe — must be a top priority, and it must be addressed on a regular basis as new vulnerabilities are uncovered and new threats emerge.
Here are some of the threats Certified Public Accountants face:
1. Malware And Ransomware
Ransomware is a sort of software that encrypts files and prevents owners from accessing them, holding computers, networks, files, and important data hostage. Once data has been encrypted, the attacker will usually demand payment (often in the form of an anonymous cryptocurrency like bitcoin) in order to regain access to the files. According to a Ponemon and Accenture research on cybersecurity released in 2019, the number of firms experiencing ransomware attacks climbed by 15% in a year, and the frequency of attacks had more than tripled in the previous two years.
2. Human Error
Human error is the most common cause of accounting errors, as well as the most common source of cyber security vulnerabilities. According to a Kaspersky study, human error is responsible for 90% of data breaches. You must bring your own device. When accountants fail to monitor their network security, the (BYOD) culture puts financial organizations at risk. If an accountant has sensitive data on their personal device and visits a coffee shop like Starbucks, a hacker could gain access to that data because the user is connected to a susceptible public wifi network.
3. Theft Of Data
According to an IBM and Ponemon analysis, the global average cost of a data breach was $3.92 million from July 2018 to April 2019 (for bigger businesses, the average cost was $5.11 million, but for smaller firms with 500 to 1,000 people, the average cost was $2.65 million).
To name a few, the cost of investigation and forensics to determine the root cause of the data breach, the cost of organizing incident response teams, the cost of determining the victims of the breach, the cost of legal and consulting services, and the cost of lost business are all included in this total cost. According to the IBM and Ponemon analysis, the average time between when a data breach occurred and when it was contained is around 279 days for enterprises, which can include accounting firms.
4. Weak Passwords
Setting up weak passwords for accounts is one of the most common blunders accounting professionals do. According to best practices, accountants should create distinct passwords for their email, applications, and systems. Accountants, like many others, are prone to using the same password for all three. As a result, they make the job of a hacker considerably easier.
Passwords are similar to keys. Consider having a single key for your home, car, and company. To wreck your life, all someone needs to do is get their hands on that key. Let’s take this analogy a step farther. Assume you have the same universal key. Not only does it provide you access to all of these important items, but you also keep it secure by placing it under a flower pot outside every night before going to bed. It wouldn’t be as evident as if it were left out in the open, but it wouldn’t take long to find.
5. Phishing Schemes
Phishing emails are designed to trick the recipient into clicking on a link or attachment that contains malware or a virus. It’s a type of social engineering. You’re vulnerable whether you’re a big company or a tiny one since statistics are on the hacker’s side. To gain access to the firm’s data, all it takes is one successful attempt. To put it another way, they only need to deceive one employee to gain access to the company’s data.
Phishing targets a wide range of targets. They can take the shape of a credit card alert, a non-profit notice, a parcel transportation delay, and other things. Scammers have adapted to make attacks even more plausible by hyper-focusing on a single target now that more people are aware of phishing scams.
Cryptojacking is a relatively new assault that, unlike malware, aims to mine bitcoins on the hacker’s behalf using the victim’s devices. Phishing techniques are used to obtain access to the devices. They use free browser extensions to embed crypto mining malware on popular websites.