Many leaders concern themselves with revenue growth, client retention and, in this day and age, the possibility of fraud with a focus on cyber security. A recent survey conducted by the National Small Business Association (NSBA) indicated that 94% of business owners are worried about this matter.
Unfortunately, these fears are not baseless. Approximately half of the survey respondents reported that their businesses were victims of cyber attacks. These attacks are not only inconvenient but also costly. NSBA respondents reported an average loss of $7,000 when their bank accounts were hacked.
While different industries face different security challenges, the risk of a cyber attack can never be fully alleviated. However, there are several simple steps you can take to help safeguard your assets and information:
1. Internal Controls and Policies: Ensure that passwords are changed and access is removed for terminated employees as soon as possible and limit employee access to sensitive data.
2. Regularly Update Security Programs: Don’t ignore those little pop-ups and reminders to download the latest update and make sure your employees don’t ignore them either. An out-of-date security software system is just as ineffective as not having one.
3. Backup Your Data: It’s extremely important to backup your financial, legal, and client information on a regular basis. Set backup processes to run automatically.
4. Be Knowledgeable About the Cloud: Cloud-based storage offers a variety of benefits, especially for smaller entities that do not have an internal IT staff. Make sure you fully understand where cloud-based data is stored and your provider’s liability to protect the data.
5. Educate Your Employees: Educate your employees on your policies and why they are in place. Encourage them to frequently change passwords, and provide guidelines on creating secure passwords.
As mobile devices become more and more prevalent, it is fundamental to also consider smartphones and tablets in your business’ cyber security plan. You will need to establish policies and controls around protecting data on employee devices (such as mandating a security lock) and discuss with your employees about protecting any company data they may have on their phones or tablets.
Cyber security is a growing concern for accounting organizations, regardless of size. While you can never eliminate the risk of an attack or breach, with some planning, due diligence, and consistent review, you can protect your company in this imperative area. If you are in the situation where you’ve fallen victim to a cyber attack, our technology department could be of assistance.