Tax preparation is crucial. Aside from the countless regulations accountants must follow to maintain compliance with the IRS, it is imperative to protect your firm's data from malicious cyber threats like data breaches and phishing emails. The IRS has implemented numerous security regulations in order to protect businesses from potential fraud. These regulations include requirements such as strong authentication methods, physical safeguards for stored data, audit trails, encryption of stored data, access control lists for authorized personnel, and regular monitoring for suspicious activity.
Cybersecurity measures must be taken proactively to prevent any potential security breaches. Partnering with a secure, managed IT provider like Swizznet can help you protect your firm’s sensitive data. Let’s discuss the steps accountants should take towards enhancing cybersecurity.
Using IRS Publication 4557, Safeguarding Taxpayer Data, as a guide, tax and accounting professionals should conduct a review of their current security measures and develop or update their security plan. Your current security precautions need to be assessed and any weaknesses addressed.
Assessing Your Firm’s Cybersecurity Risks
Unfortunately, cybercriminals are always coming up with new ways to attack and exploit vulnerabilities, and 2023 is no different. Here are some of the top cyber security threats facing accountants, CPAs, and bookkeepers in 2023:
- Ransomware attacks. Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts a victim's files and demands a ransom from the victim to restore access. These attacks can be devastating for businesses, as they can result in lost productivity and revenue.
- Phishing attacks. Phishing attacks are a common method of cyber-attack that involve sending fraudulent emails or text messages to trick individuals into revealing sensitive information or clicking on malicious links. These attacks can be difficult to detect, so it's important to be vigilant and educate yourself and your team on how to spot them.
- Social engineering attacks. Social engineering attacks involve manipulating individuals into divulging sensitive information or performing actions that may compromise the security of an organization. These attacks can take many forms, such as pretexting (posing as someone else to gain information), baiting (offering something enticing in exchange for information), or scareware (using fear to get someone to take a desired action).
- Malware attacks. Malware is any software that is designed to harm or exploit a computer system. It can be delivered through a variety of means, including email attachments, malicious websites, and infected software downloads. Malware attacks can result in lost or stolen data, as well as damage to computer systems.
- Insider threats. Insider threats refer to individuals within an organization who intentionally or unintentionally compromise the security of the organization. These threats can be difficult to detect, as they often involve trusted individuals with access to sensitive information.
To protect your business and your clients' information from these threats, it's important to have strong cybersecurity measures in place. This includes regularly updating your software and operating system, using strong passwords and multi-factor authentication, and educating yourself and your team on cyber security best practices. It's also a good idea to invest in a reliable cybersecurity solution, such as a firewall and next-gen antivirus software, to help protect against cyber-attacks.
Creating Partnerships to Enhance Security
One of the best ways to enhance your firm’s cybersecurity is by creating partnerships with other organizations or providers who specialize in managed IT services. Swizznet provides enhanced network protection services and secure backups that are designed specifically for accounting firms and their unique needs. With Swizznet’s user access control, you can gain improved visibility into who has access to specific areas of the network and be held accountable if any unauthorized activity takes place. Not only can they monitor your network and keep you secure but they can also train your team on best practices for security with offering access to KnowBe4. Additionally, Swizznet offers comprehensive incident response planning so that you can effectively manage any risks posed by cyber threats.
Interested in learning more? Join us for a webinar on January 24th to find out how you can partner with Swizznet and leverage expertise and resources to enhance your organization's security. We can help you protect your business and your clients from the many cyber security threats facing accountants, CPAs, and bookkeepers in 2023 by partnering with us.