Developing an Incident-Response Plan for CPAs

Hey accountants, if your organization was struck by a cyberattack today, would you know what to do? To whom would you report the incident? How would you assess the damages, make repairs, or recover files? If you're lacking definitive answers to these questions, you could be opening your organization to a world of hurt.

Certified public accountants (CPAs) are a hot target for cyber thieves. It makes perfect sense when you think about it. CPAs control inviting caches of client financial and personal information. If you're a CPA without an incident-response plan in place, a cyberattack can fester and cause even more problems down the line.

Below, we will show you how to craft your own contingency plan, of which cyber insurance for CPAs are an integral part. This is a crucial safety net for organizations like yours. Further, while these tips are designed with an organization in mind, solo accountants can improve their cyber resilience by following the same steps on an individual level.

So, without further ado, here's how to build your incident-response plan:

Assess your risks. It's important for your organization to understand the specific risks facing your business and your industry (such as social engineering scams). Solid cybersecurity starts with a careful assessment, followed by educated pre-emptive responses.

Create backups. Data breaches cost an average of $217 per record. Protect your files by implementing a regular backup cadence. An encrypted cloud works best.

Assign a leader. Preferably, this should be an executive who can oversee the integration of the response plan and its carry through. This can be a challenging task, so assign it to someone you know can handle the responsibility.

Train your staff. Once you have developed your contingency plan, share it with your employees. Be sure to cover it once each quarter. This could be the difference between a secure environment and data breach.

Establish responsibilities. Ensure everyone plays their part by establishing roles and responsibilities for each of the individuals on your team. Whose job is it to report the breach internally? Who will field client questions during crisis mode?

Isolate the incident. It's important to quarantine malware-infected devices immediately ʉ۝ before the bug spreads. Also look for secondary forms of attack. Some hackers use a Trojan Horse ploy, in which they stage a simple attack as a smokescreen for their desired data breaches and malware installations.

Ask for help.  Identify key partners in your fight against cybercrime, including law enforcement, external security professionals and your cyber insurance provider.

Determine how to break the news. As a CPA, people trust you with highly sensitive personal and financial information. It's a good idea to pre-determine the best way to inform them about a breach in order to reassure them you are doing everything you can to remedy the situation.

Ensure redundancy.  Make it standard practice to double check critical sections of your business for signs of incursion on a regular basis â€ùideally, daily.

Repeat, repeat, repeat. A good incident response plan is a living document that should be regularly updated. Review your plan once every year, updating the plan with the wisdom and expertise you've acquired over the past 12 months.

And finally, Visit CyberPolicy for your free quote today!

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