As a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), you have the background and technical skills to help your clients with their finances. They turn to you with questions about their investments, taxes, business operations and much more. They even trust you with their highly personal and confidential information-the keys to their financial kingdom, so to speak. Unfortunately, client records contain the very kinds of information sought by malicious hackers, including bank account and Social Security numbers.
Can accountants identify and stop theft before it happens? Not always. But you can take certain cybersecurity precautions to drastically lessen your chances of being affected, and mitigate any aftershock to your clients' finances (as well as your own) with cyber insurance for CPAs.
The Power of Passwords
Many small businesses believe they're small potatoes to hackers and are therefore safe. But the statistics show otherwise: 43 percent of cyberattacks target SMBs with 250 employees or less. If your password across the board is or "pa$$word" because it's easy for you to remember, it's past time to reconsider. Over 10 percent of people use one of the worst 25 passwords, according to SplashData, putting themselves at major risk for identity theft.
Make sure that you use a unique password for each platform or login, and that each password has at least eight characters (with a healthy mix of capitalized/lowercase letters, numbers and special characters). A trustworthy password manager can help you keep all these credentials straight.
Beware of Malware
It may be news to you that an \"unbreakable\" password can still put your CPA firm at risk of a hack. For example, all it takes is you or another employee clicking on an infected link to install a keylogger, \"a type of malware that enables the hacker to record and monitor the user's keystrokes.\"
Steering clear of the many ill effects of malware means training everyone within your organization on how to avoid it. Here are a few tips on protecting yourself from malware, courtesy of The New York Times:
− Install antivirus software (and regularly update it)
− Avoid clicking on suspicious email links and pop-ups (double-check the sender and hover over links to see where they'll direct you upon clicking)
− Never provide sensitive information over email (it could be a hacker posing as an institution, client or partner)
− Back up your data in a safe space
− Create an emergency plan in case your business does suffer a malware attack (this may involve changing passwords, assessing damage, paying ransomware costs and notifying clients)
The Effects of a Data Breach
Cyberattacks tend to be expensive, and can even force an SMB out of business. There's also the repetitional effects to consider; your clients will be less keen on working with you after you disclose that you lost control of their confidential information. As the National Cyber Security Alliance reminds us, part of any comprehensive cybersecurity plan is restitution: \"Companies need to be prepared to address the repercussions of a security threat with their employees and customers to ensure that any loss of trust or business is minimal and short-lived.\"
Here's where cyber insurance for CPAs can help, whether you need help covering the costs of IT analysis, public relations, client credit monitoring, court or business interruption after an attack. Find a policy that's a perfect fit with CyberPolicy today!