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What a CPA firm can do to thwart cyber threats
The best defense to a data breach is to implement procedures to minimize the threat. Understand the nature of the data in your possession and establish methods for how to discover a breach. Having a robust internal reporting process and incident response plan is key. Two major points of vulnerability for CPA firms are the widespread use of mobile devices, which can be vulnerable to malware when not patched properly, and easily lost exposing unencrypted data and remote access to internal systems for the mobile workforce. The following best practices should be implemented to protect against these threats:
- Ensure full disk encryption on all laptops, desktops, mobile devices, and external storage
- Utilize multi-factor (or at least two-factor) authentication for remote login
- Establish robust cloud/vendor management controls
- Conduct regular security awareness training for all employees
- Extend internal security controls to embedded devices like internet-connected web cameras, HVAC, and door badge access systems
- Document and test incident response plans
- Establish a formal data retention policy – including secure deletion of data
- Ensure physical security of hardware
- Conduct annual penetration tests, and remediate identified issues
- Audit and assess the end-to-end state of an organization’s existing cybersecurity risk management program, identifying any gaps and probing for weaknesses.
- Build out more robust controls across the finance function.
- Develop and implement advanced training to increase the organization’s overall cybersecurity readiness.
- Create threat detection and response protocols, thereby empowering key stakeholders to take action and mitigate losses in the event of a potential breach.
An inadequate breach response can be devastating to an accounting practice. Not only does it result in reputational harm, but it can result in higher out-of-pocket expenses, including heavy fines and more. Frequently, the firm becomes a future “target” for other cybercriminals.
To further help insulate your firm from exposure, purchase appropriate cyber liability coverage. Remember that your existing coverage may not adequately cover a data security breach and the necessary response. Accordingly, consult with your insurance agent or broker when assessing your cyber coverage. It is imperative to read the general terms and conditions of the policy and understand how it applies to first-party risks (i.e., business interruption and data restoration) as well as to third party risks (i.e., network damage, privacy injury, event expenses, regulatory proceedings, and extortion).
Proactivity leads to a thriving future
For CPA firms, cyber-attack threats are real and on the rise. Fortunately, you can take steps to help mitigate risk and protect the sensitive personal and financial information entrusted to you by your clients. Taking a proactive approach to cybersecurity can make you less susceptible to breaches, lawsuits, and customer churn, ultimately helping you maintain your clients — and their trust — to shore up the stability and future success of your firm.
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Our Services Include:
- Cyber Assessments: We examine all aspects of an organization’s information system, accounting for people, processes, and technology. We let you know the risk profile, help investors develop a risk appetite strategy, and develop a roadmap to move the organization to a better security posture.
- Cyber Planning and Implementation: Our team of technology and investigative experts works with the acquired organization to develop a comprehensive strategy to reduce information security risk. Working with the IT department and existing infrastructure, our solutions are a thoughtful balance between security and operations, using a framework of personnel, processes, and technology.
- Cybersecurity Training Programs: When we help law firms with cybersecurity, we always focus on security awareness for attorneys and other firm employees. Cybersecurity for law firms must require good cyber awareness sessions to be effective.
- Incident response: Responding to a significant breach is a precarious moment for a business. Money, data, and reputation are at stake. Our team works hand in hand with legal counsel, management, and the IT department to quickly isolate the problem, remediate affected systems, and restore operations while maintaining confidentiality.
- Business Continuity: Our digital forensics team is capable of backing up data of the largest networks, ensuring quick restoration of operations in the event of cyber-attack or other disasters that affect the company.
- Cyber Liability Insurance: Using our framework-based risk assessment, we work with insurance companies to find the cyber liability coverage that is most appropriate for your firm.