Updated: Mar 12
In preparing for your practice succession, you must review your cyber-security. You do not want a cyber-security breach in your practice at any time, let alone when preparing for your succession or starting your succession journey. It is strongly recommended that you review your cyber-security protection immediately and take appropriate action where required.
The simple facts are accounting firms are being increasingly targeted by cybercriminals due to the sensitive and valuable information handled on behalf of clients. According to the 2020 Cyber Security Survey conducted by the ASIC, 27% of small to medium-sized businesses, including accounting firms, experienced a cyber incident in the previous year. The threat of cyber-attacks on accounting firms is significant and growing. It is essential to take proactive measures to protect your business and clients by implementing strong cybersecurity measures and regularly training your team to identify and respond to cyber threats.
Cybersecurity protects your computer systems, networks, and digital information from unauthorised access, theft, damage, or other malicious activities. It involves a range of technologies, processes, and policies designed to secure your computer systems, devices, and networks from cyber-attacks, cybercrime, and other types of cyber threats.
Some typical cybersecurity measures your firm should be implementing include:
Secure networks and devices: Ensure your networks and devices are secured using firewalls, encryption, and other security technologies to protect against unauthorised access and data breaches.
Strong passwords: Robust passwords are a simple yet effective way to prevent unauthorised access to sensitive information. Password policies should be in place that requires strong, unique passwords and passwords changed regularly.
Two-factor authentication: Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second verification form, such as a code sent to a mobile device and a password.
Employee training: Training your employees is essential in preventing cyber-attacks. Your firm should provide regular cybersecurity training to your team to ensure they know the latest threats.
Data backups: Regular data backups can protect against data loss due to a cyber-attack. Ensure that data backups are stored in a secure location and are regularly tested to ensure they can be restored.
Anti-virus and anti-malware software: Your practice should use the latest anti-virus and anti-malware software to protect against viruses, malware, and other malicious software.
Incident response plan: Your practice should have a documented incident response plan to respond quickly and effectively to a cyber-attack.
Like any sound security system, you are only as protected as your weakest link; for some firms, using old computers and laptops is your weakest link. Ensure all hardware and software are current, compatible with the latest security measures, and reviewed regularly.
Ensure there are high levels of cyber hygiene across your practice through education across passwords and access points. Ensure your team only accesses secure Wi-Fi when working remotely. You must update all software with the latest patches and consult your IT expert to provide the right solutions for your practice. As you approach your practice succession, you must adequately address all cyber-security matters as a priority.