Why It’s More Important Than Ever for Accounting Professionals To Keep Sensitive Financial Information Secure From Cyberattacks

Cyberattacks constantly threaten the accounting and finance industry.

To help businesses in this sector better understand their risk level and why it’s more important than ever for accounting professionals to prioritize cybersecurity and data loss prevention, let’s look at some recent statistics paired with practical recommendations for financial data security.

Statistic #1: Businesses in the accounting and finance industry are at increased risk of cybersecurity attacks

In a *2021 Software Advice survey, more than two-thirds of businesses (68%) in the accounting and finance industry report having suffered a data breach in the past 12 months. Another 56% have suffered an account takeover, highlighting the urgent need for greater security measures to protect sensitive financial information.

For accounting professionals working at small and midsize businesses (SMBs), this data is even more alarming as smaller organizations often have fewer resources to dedicate to cybersecurity and have more to lose. This can put SMBs at a greater risk of a data breach or account hacking, which can have devastating consequences.

How to respond

SMBs in the accounting and finance industry, or accounting professionals who work at SMBs in other industries, must continuously revisit their security response plans and work with internal or outsourced IT teams to identify and protect their biggest risk factors.

Use this guide to help keep your financial information secure.

Statistic #2: Accounting businesses are losing data to ransomware attacks…even after paying the ransom

In the *same Software Advice survey, 41% of accounting firms that experienced a ransomware attack paid the ransom but did not recover their data.

As ransomware attacks continue to increase in sophistication, the risk of losing data even after paying the ransom is greater than ever. And SMBs can’t afford to lose money and data this way.

How to respond

To protect your business from this growing threat, ensure you have regular data backups in place and that your systems are up-to-date with the latest security patches.

Explore cloud backup and storage solutions for your business, and learn how to use software reviews to choose the right tool to help protect and store sensitive information.

Statistic #3: Subpar security training is putting accounting businesses at risk

In addition to rising cyberthreats overall, Software Advice’s 2021 data security survey findings indicate that inadequate and irregular security training of staff is a major cause of cybersecurity and data loss among accounting businesses.

Nearly a third of accounting businesses (30%) conduct security training irregularly or only at the time of joining the company. This means that many employees aren’t taught how to handle sensitive financial information, which can lead to human error, data loss, and an overall lack of financial data security.

How to respond

To correct this anomaly, small and midsize accounting firms should prioritize regular and thorough security training for all employees who have access to sensitive data. This training should be conducted on a regular basis to ensure everyone understands the importance of cybersecurity, and knows how to respond in the event of a breach.

Your training should educate staff on their roles and responsibilities, including who to notify in the event of an attack and how to mitigate overall risk through their daily actions.

Accounting software and cybersecurity

In the past decade, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of cyberattacks targeting businesses of all sizes. As our dependence on technology grows, so too does the risk of falling victim to a data breach or other type of cybercrime.

Accounting software is a critical tool for SMBs, whether yours operates in the accounting and finance industry or employs a few in-house accounting professionals. Because these tools help firms track their finances, prepare tax filings, and manage payroll, they contain a wealth of sensitive information, including customer data, financial records, and employee information.

If this information falls into the wrong hands, it could be used to commit fraud or theft. Accounting professionals must keep their software up to date to help keep their systems secure.

How Software Advice can help

Software Advice can help you find the right cybersecurity software with unbiased user reviews and comparisons of top products on the market.

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Software Advice’s 2021 Data Security Survey was conducted from August 20 to August 24 among 973 respondents to learn more about data security at U.S. businesses. Respondents were screened for full-time employment and 90 identified as their organization’s IT security manager.