5 Cybersecurity Challenges in the Accounting Industry and How to Overcome Them

accountant working from home

Cybersecurity has become a necessary cost for all businesses, especially those in the financial industry. As the rate of cyberattacks skyrockets, accounting firms must root out vulnerabilities in their systems to protect valuable financial information, client data, and the longevity of their business. 

Because accounting firms house sensitive financial data, they’re at high risk for cyberattacks. However, becoming aware of the cybersecurity threats to the accounting industry and learning how to tackle them head on can save your firm money and protect the future of your business. 

Why Are Accounting Firms a Target for Cybercriminals?

There are a few reasons accounting firms are such a desirable target for cybercriminals. 

  • Accounting firms have access to a large amount of sensitive financial information. This data is not only valuable, but also difficult to replace if lost or stolen. 
  • Accounting firms that still use outdated systems and software are an easier target for hackers than those that employ and optimize the latest modern technologies. 
  • Cybercriminals know that employees can be a weak link in your cybersecurity infrastructure. In fact, experts estimate that 88% of data breaches can be directly traced back to an employee mistake. Firms that neglect accounting cybersecurity training for employees make it easier for hackers to gain access to their systems. 

What Are the Costs of These Cyberattacks in the Accounting Industry?

While the financial cost of a cyberattack can be overwhelming, there are additional costs to your business. The effects of cyberattacks can be divided into three main categories: financial, reputational, and operational.

  • Financial Costs: Cyberattack costs include recovery expenses, legal fees, and fines. The average cost of a data breach for a small company can be anywhere from $120,000 to $1.24 million. Such a staggering financial setback can lead businesses to close up shop for good.   
  • Reputational Costs: In addition to financial consequences, cyberattacks can negatively impact a business’s reputation, stirring up mistrust among clients and even lead to further litigation. 
  • Operational Costs: Cyberattacks further hurt businesses through lost productivity and downtime. The average cost for downtime is estimated around $5,600 per minute. Accounting firms need to be able to continue operating despite these attacks, which can be difficult and expensive without a reliable business continuity plan or accounting cybersecurity strategy

What Are Five Cybersecurity Challenges Accountants Face?

While cybersecurity is a rapidly evolving field with new threats emerging every day, familiarizing yourself with these five cybersecurity challenges is a good place to start:

1. Poor Cyber Hygiene Among Employees 

Employee cybersecurity mistakes are a leading cause of data breaches. Accounting firm employees may not be aware of proper cybersecurity protocol, may knowingly engage in risky behavior, or be unaware of how to spot data breach attempts. Fortunately, accounting cybersecurity training is a proactive measure you can take to educate and train employees on how to better protect themselves and your cybersecurity infrastructure. 

2. Phishing

Phishing emails are a common way for hackers to gain access to accounting firm systems. These emails often look like they’re from a legitimate source, but they contain malicious links or attachments. Partnering with your cybersecurity provider for email security solutions and teaching your employees the signs of a phishing email are a great way to secure your communication. 

3. Ransomware

Ransomware is a type of malware that can encrypt accounting firm data and demand a ransom for the decryption key. This is costly for firms that don’t have backups of their data, and even if you pay the ransom, there’s no guarantee the hacker will return your data unharmed. Consistent, secure data backup ensures that you always have access to the latest copy of your information should you experience a ransomware attack.

4. Remote Work

Remote work risks are increasing as more accounting firm employees work from home. Without clear cybersecurity protocols—such as using a Virtual Private Network in public places—it can be difficult to secure your firm’s data and systems, leaving you vulnerable to cyberattacks.

5. Supply Chain Attacks 

Supply chain attacks are another sneaky cause of data breaches. Accounting firms often use third-party vendors to support their services. If these vendors are not properly secured and have been compromised by hackers, this can put your data and systems at risk as well. Your cybersecurity provider can work to ensure your third-party vendors have been properly vetted.  

How Tech Rockstars Can Help Boost Your Accounting Cybersecurity 

At Tech Rockstars, we understand the unique challenges that accounting firms face when it comes to cybersecurity. We offer a variety of services to help firms protect their data and systems, including managed IT services, cloud backup and recovery, and accounting cybersecurity consulting. 

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help your firm stay safe from cyberattacks!