The ongoing evolution of the digital landscape is revolutionising business practices.

The growing adoption of digital technologies in the business realm generates vast quantities of data. This data holds immense worth for cyber criminals, who can either sell it for substantial profits or exploit it to launch targeted attacks against the individuals or organisations from which the data originates.

Why accountancy firms are valuable to a Cyber Criminal

  • Accountancy firms are data-rich, due to the nature of their business.
  • Accountancy firms process data in many valuable areas for criminals.

Some examples of this include financial data, payroll information, personal identification documents (for processes such as Anti Money laundering) or tax information. This makes them a prime target for Cyber Criminals.

The potential consequences of a successful attack 

A successful cyber attack comes with consequences for any business, regardless of the size or industry. Some common effects of a successful cyber attack include:

  • Loss of business operation– this can happen if system downtime occurs as a result, or if employees have to stop normal operations to deal with other effects of the attack.
  • Financial loss – this can come from either theft of money, fines, damage to infrastructure or loss of business operation.
  • Reputational damage– customers can lose trust in the business as a result of the attack, which can result in a loss of clients.
  • Data loss– this could be customer or internal data. Loss of internal data could cause business intellectual property to be publicly available, which could result in a loss of competitive advantage.
  • Legal issues– an attack could require legal action or come with legal troubles. This could lead to lawsuits or regulatory fines. An example of this would be the fines incurred for breaching the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) if customer information was gained by an attacker, as they are an unauthorised party.

Common threats faced by accounting firms 

Accountancy firms face largely the same threats as many other businesses. Two of the most common types of attacks are malware and social engineering attacks.

Malware
Malware is the term used to describe any malicious software that is designed to harm a computer system in ways such as disruption, causing damage or gaining unauthorised access. There is a variety of different types of malware that operate in different ways when installed on a computer system. However, they all cause harm and give attackers some form of control of the system.

Technical controls for prevention

The chances of a successful attack can be limited by:

  • Implementing antimalware software across the organisation.
  • Installing all updates to software and hardware across the organisation.
  • Implementing a firewall within the network.
  • Performing comprehensive backups of systems and data.
  • Managing employee access control.

Educational controls for prevention 

Educating employees on best practices can also help limit the chance of a successful attack.

  • Actively scanning files downloaded with effective antimalware software.
  • Installing and ensuring the successful completion of software updates by ensuring automatic updates are enabled and by rebooting regularly.
  • Password hygiene – using both effective and memorable passwords.
  • Securely sending and receiving data, including where to download/ execute files from.

Social Engineering 

Social Engineering is a type of cyber attack that relies on human interaction. Victims are deceived by the attacker to reveal confidential information or perform an action which will compromise either their personal security or the security of their employer.

Technical controls for prevention 

The chances of a successful attack can be limited by:

  • Implementing an effective email filter – email is the most common platform for these attacks so an effective email spam and security filter can help prevent these attacks.
  • Implementing antimalware software across the organisation.
  • Installing all updates to software and hardware across the organisation.

Educational controls for prevention 

Educating employees on best practices can also help limit the chance of a successful attack

  • Provide security awareness training
  • Use simulated attacks to measure areas for improvement – this should be done for business specific information and also relevant to current trends.

In Summary

With the huge potential consequences for all businesses, it is important to safeguard your most valuable information.  CTRL-S can help with both technical and educational controls. 

We are here to support you and implement only the best services to safeguard your information. We can educate you and the rest of your team with our Cyber Wise service, which includes all training necessary to provide security awareness against common cyber threats and simulated attacks giving an insight into the areas of vulnerability to allow tailored training to be delivered.

If you would like to learn more, please get in touch to speak with one of our expert team.

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