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25th October, 2023

Episode 8: Cybersecurity essential for business success

With the increasing reliance on technology and the rise of cyber threats, it is crucial for individuals and businesses to prioritise cybersecurity measures.

This is especially true for accounting professionals, who deal with sensitive financial information and are a prime target for cyber attacks.

In this episode of Fiscal Therapy, Tyler Wise from CyberWise discusses the importance of cybersecurity for accounting practices.

He emphasises the need for a proactive approach to cybersecurity, rather than just focusing on it during Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

Wise, an expert in cyber security, digital asset protection, and forensic accounting, shares his insights on how practices can understand and protect themselves from cyber threats.

Protecting yourself and your clients

Practice owners can take steps to ensure their business and their clients are protected.

The first is having a game plan. This includes creating an incident response plan, a document that outlines the steps to be taken in the event of a cyber attack.

By having a plan in place, practice owners can minimise the chaos and make informed decisions during a crisis.

Secondly, use a password manager. Wise emphasises the importance of using long, unique, and complex passwords for all accounts.

Storing passwords in Excel spreadsheets or using weak passwords puts practices at risk of being hacked. A password manager helps generate and store strong passwords securely, reducing the risk of unauthorised access.

Thirdly, implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) wherever possible.

MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to provide additional verification, such as a code sent to their mobile device, in addition to their password. This significantly reduces the risk of unauthorised access.

The fourth recommendation is to regularly update systems.

Keeping software and applications up to date is crucial as updates often include security patches that protect against known vulnerabilities.

With the majority of businesses operating in the cloud, updating systems has become easier and less disruptive.

Finally, ensure you’re always backing up data.

While the migration to cloud data may give a false sense of security, it is still important to have backups.

Practice owners need to ensure data is regularly backed up and adhere to industry standards for data retention.

This ensures that in the event of a cyber attack or data loss, critical information can be recovered.

Businesses need to be proactive

The frequency of cyber attacks is alarming.

In Australia alone, there is a cyber attack every seven minutes. This statistic highlights the dire threat landscape that businesses face in the digital world.

Cyber attacks come in various forms and can target businesses of all industries and sizes. It is no longer a matter of if a business will experience a cyber attack but when.

The increasing awareness and discussion surrounding cyber attacks are positive developments.

By openly sharing stories and experiences, businesses can learn from one another and access available resources to better prepare and respond to cyber threats.

It is essential for businesses to be proactive in implementing cybersecurity measures to protect their sensitive data and ensure the security of their operations.

Cybersecurity is not just a buzzword but a critical aspect of success in today’s digital landscape.

Accounting practices, in particular, need to be proactive in implementing cybersecurity measures to protect themselves and their clients.

By following the recommendations provided by experts, practice owners can mitigate the risks associated with cyber threats and ensure a secure environment for their business to thrive.

It is through open discussions and sharing of experiences that businesses can collectively strengthen their defenses against cyber attacks and safeguard their valuable assets.

Attacks increasing rapidly

It is crucial for businesses, especially accounting practices, to be aware of the risks and take proactive measures to protect themselves and their clients.  

Cyber attacks are no longer rare occurrences, and while high-profile examples, such as the Medibank and Optus attacks, may be infrequent, there are numerous fraud incidents, malicious attacks, and social engineering attempts happening every day.

These attacks encompass a wide range of risks and attacks, and it is important for businesses to understand the breadth of the threat landscape.

The increasing number of devices being connected to the internet further amplifies the risk of cyber attacks.

As more devices come online, businesses become more vulnerable and attractive targets for cybercriminals.

This highlights the need for businesses to be cautious when clicking on links or interacting with online content.

Cybersecurity crucial for protection

The internet is not only a place of convenience and efficiency but also a breeding ground for criminals.

Protecting client data is paramount. Accounting practices are the custodians of client data, and it is crucial for them to take cybersecurity seriously.

By implementing strong cybersecurity defenses, businesses are demonstrating to their clients that they take responsibility for the security of their data.

This instills confidence in clients and reassures them their data is in safe hands. In the event of a cyber attack, clients may be better equipped to handle the situation if they know that their accounting practice has taken proactive measures to protect their data.

Cybersecurity doesn’t have to be overly complex or expensive. It is about getting the answers from service providers, educating employees, and taking proactive steps to protect sensitive data.

By starting small and building momentum, businesses can make significant strides in cybersecurity.

It is an ever-evolving field, and being progressive in this area shows clients the business is committed to security.

Have a plan in place

With the increasing prevalence of cyber attacks, businesses need to ensure they have necessary protections to safeguard client information.

Share these cybersecurity governance policies and practices with clients when requested.

By having these measures in place, businesses not only demonstrate their commitment to protecting client data but also position themselves ahead of the curve, which can be beneficial for gaining new clients.

Additionally, it’s crucial to have a plan in place in case a cyber attack does occur.

Having a cybersecurity plan enables businesses to respond quickly and effectively to mitigate the impact of an attack.

This plan for success is crucial for minimising the damage caused by a cyber attack and ensuring business continuity.

Furthermore, businesses need to stay informed about the latest cybersecurity threats and best practices.

And finally, businesses can reach out to cybersecurity experts and consultancies for guidance and assistance in implementing robust cybersecurity measures.