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Internet Security Tips for Accounting Firms
These days, most if not all accounting firms have moved from the traditional record keeping with paper and file cabinets to digital record keeping. With the click of a mouse accountants can access client's data ranging from emails, phone numbers, social security numbers and other confidential data. For accounting firms and accountants, digital record keeping is a godsend as previously hours had to be spent finding physical files. Those hours can now be spent assisting clients and improving the overall efficiency of the company. The trade-off is that accounting firms are now a gold mine for hackers.
With so much sensitive and valuable data, hackers will not hesitate spending weeks on end trying to find any way into the system. The most obvious method hackers employ, outside of the "brute force" attacks, is trying to find any flaws within the security system. If a flaw is found, hackers won't wait to exploit the flaw creating a data breach. Another common form of attack is called "ransomware"; a form of malware that locks out owners from the computer or database unless the hacker is paid. Typically, and unfortunately, if the ransomware is paid the hacker will not return the files and is more likely to strike again. This is why internet security for accounting firms has never been more important. However, this article is not to promote a new security software or some magic "fix-all" service. Instead, it is to provide some of the best tips for protecting a firm against cyber-threats.
Encryption and Firewall
Making it a habit to keep all data in the system encrypted is a great way to deter would-be hackers. Firewalls are mandatory as they will protect a database and system from unauthorized access. Firewalls are typically the first-line of defense, but they should never be treated as the only line of defense either.
Another mandatory software, anti-virus and anti-malware software will check through a system and find any malicious software and either remove it or quarantine it. As this type of software can always be programmed to run automatic scans, there is no reason to not have them check for threats at least a few times a week. Always aim to find the best.
Often overlooked, security software needs to always be up-to-date to protect against all current and new threats. Security software receives information from an online database hosted by the security company, which works tirelessly to keep track of any and all viruses and threats. There isn't any good reason for not wanting a security software to be up-to-date, and they always come with an option to provide auto-updating.
Providing Wi-Fi for workers in an accounting firm is beneficial, but this doesn't mean that Wi-Fi should be given out to everyone. The best option for Wi-Fi protection is to use very strong passwords for the company Wi-Fi and set up a guest network for those that need the internet. Some security firms can even provide services to keep a firm's Wi-Fi hidden from prying eyes.
VPN is a good way to increase online security. There are many good VPN services to choose from. People not only use VPN to bypass Internet censorship from countries such as China, but also use it to increase online security. For example, for remote workers, it's a good idea to let them connect to the company's network through a VPN. This way, no sensitive data will be leaked.
Backing up all data daily is a good way to protect against ransomware or crashes. Keeping these backups on another system will provide added security as if the main server or servers are hit, the backups can still be used.
Employee Security and Training
At the end of the day, security is only as good as those using it. Even with the best security systems in place, a simple human error can cause an untold amount of damage. This is why training employees on proper internet security and office security is just as important as firewalls and anti-virus programs. Employees should be trained to never open any links from suspicious emails or messages on social media. If any pop-ups appear on their computer, they should report it to a manager or IT right away and not click on it. Training on proper office work such as not browsing unsecured websites or social media during work hours can reduce the risk of attacks.. Lastly, employees should be trained that any laptops, phones, tablets or even USB drives brought from home must be inspected to ensure they do not carry viruses or malware. It's best for employees to keep any personal devices at home.
Internet security for accounting firms is not something to be taken lightly. Data breaches, both big and small, can have lasting effects on both companies and clients. Always using the best security systems, keeping them up-to-date and making sure employees know the proper work ethics and how to stay safe online goes a long way to protect against data breaches.