When you let cybersecurity slide, you put your clients’, their clients’, and your own data at risk every day. With the right I.T. team, you can detect threats before they become breaches and return the trust your clients place in you.
As an accountant, you may not feel that data security is an urgent concern. After all, it isn’t the main focus of what you do. Surely, it’s just a minor chore that you have to deal with when you set up your system and not something you have to think about every day, right?
The Threats Are Out There
It’s easy to get so wrapped up in taking care of your clients’ books, taxes, and questions that you forget that there are serious cyber threats in the world. You may not even be aware of all the threats that are out there. And, you may not think data theft could happen to you.
However, the threats are real, and they can happen to any business that uses computers and the Internet. In fact, in 2005, the National Computer Security Survey found that 67% of the businesses they surveyed had experienced at least one cybercrime that year. Of these victimized businesses, 68% lost at least $10,000. That should be enough to give any business owner or manager pause. That was many years ago, but these problems haven’t gone away. In fact, they’ve gotten worse over the years.
So, what are the threats? Here are just a few:
Passwords Are Not Enough
Password-protected accounts may seem very secure to you if you aren’t an I.T. professional. The idea many people have is that if an account is protected by a password, all you have to do is keep that password private, and no hacker can ever get into it. For example, if you have access to a client’s QuickBooks data, you may feel that it’s perfectly safe, because a password protects their QuickBooks account.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, the password is important, and it provides one layer of protection. However, there are other ways for hackers to get that data. Suppose your client gives you access to their QuickBooks files. Even though their account has a password, the data isn’t completely safe. If a hacker breaches your system, there are numerous utilities out there that they can use to break the password and steal the data.
You’re Responsible for Your Clients’ DataYour clients trust you. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t let you see all their financial data or request your help in making important business decisions. And, you rely on their trust. Without it, your accounting business would fail very quickly. So, you need to safeguard all their data to protect them. Otherwise, you could be responsible for their business failing. Also, if you cause them monetary losses, they could sue you for not doing your job in protecting their data.
You Also Need to Safeguard Their Clients’ Data
This reason for data security is not as obvious, but it’s just as important. Hidden within your clients’ financial data is data from their clients, vendors, contractors, and employees. That means your responsibility goes beyond your immediate client. Again, you could face significant losses and lawsuits if you let hackers steal all that juicy data.
Don’t Forget Your Own Cybersecurity Needs
Your own business data needs to be protected as well. You have financial records of your own, along with proprietary data and data about your daily operations. Cybercriminals would love to get their hands on all your data. In addition, competitors have been known to steal data in order to cause the downfall of businesses that could get the clients they want. And, even though you may trust all your current employees, you still have to ensure that they or others don’t take data from your system.
As they say, better safe than sorry.
Regulatory Rules Require You to Do It, Too
In the accounting business, you operate under regulatory rules. The government and other regulatory agencies demand that you take all the right steps to ensure your clients’ data is secure. That isn’t an easy task, and it isn’t one that can be accomplished by someone who doesn’t know I.T. well.
What you need is a knowledgeable I.T. team to guide you in arming your system against cybercrime, putting the best security policies in place, and detecting threats before they become breaches. If not, it’s very likely that you’ll eventually fail to meet the requirements. Then, you could face serious consequences and have to pay fines.
Your Reputation Is at Stake
As mentioned before, your clients trust you, and you need to honor their trust. But this goes beyond what your clients think of you. If you don’t take care of their data, they will certainly tell their friends and business associates. The news could spread online or in your local news outlets. Before you know it, you could be known as the accounting firm that puts their clients at risk. If you want to have a solid reputation, then you must always be mindful of data security.
Data security matters for accountants. When you let cybersecurity slide, you put your clients’, their clients’, and your own data at risk every day. You increase your risk of failing regulatory exams, and you tarnish your reputation when you don’t do all you can to protect the data you keep.
Are you beginning to see why data security is so vital to your business success? If so, the best thing you can do is to talk to a reputable managed I.T. services provider to start securing your system and all the data in it.
JMARK is a managed I.T. services provider with a 30-year track record of keeping our clients’ data secure and helping their businesses succeed. We also have a special team of I.T. experts who specialize in helping accountants with their information technology. To learn more, contact us at 844-44-JMARK, email us at [email protected], or send us a message on our Contact Us page. We’re ready to take your security to the best level so you can build and maintain a flourishing accounting firm in Springfield, Missouri; Tulsa, Oklahoma; or anywhere nationwide.