Top 3 cybersecurity threats to protect against in 2021

Apr 6, 2021 | Tips

With greater access to new technologies and a more hyper-connected global marketplace, the trade-off is we’re working in a more dangerous cybersecurity landscape. It makes sense that certain sectors – such as banking and government – would be targeted by malicious actors, but did you realise that accounting practices are one of the most targeted type of businesses among small firms?

At a time when you need to protect your client and company data against cyberattacks, these are the biggest threats in 2021.

1. Protect your clients – and your practice – against data theft

Data breaches that steal your clients’ Personally Identifiable Information (PII) are costing businesses around the world trillions of dollars annually. According to the Cost of a Data Breach Report, the total cost following a data breach is now US$3.86 million, on average.

Could your accounting firm survive such an eye-watering bill after a cyberattack?

2. Malware and ransomware can bring down your firm

Malware is a piece of software that only has one purpose: to damage someone’s device or take control of a network. Malware comes in a number of different forms, from a basic computer viruses to spyware, adware and Trojan attacks.

Ransomware attacks have more than tripled in frequency over the past two years, and this is what most businesses should be afraid of, particularly those that house sensitive data such as accounting firms. A successful ransomware attack will capture a company’s sensitive data, encrypt it and then block the business’s access to it – thereby holding it ‘hostage’. The attacker will demand a ‘ransom’ as payment, usually via Bitcoin, for return of the stolen data.

Unfortunately, even if the company is able to come up with the money and transfer it to the correct account in time, they are unlikely to ever see their data again. And more worryingly for firms, The Cost of Cybercrime report reveals that ransomware attacks have more than tripled in frequency over the previous two years.

3. Phishing scams are easy to fall victim to

Phishing scams are just as prevalent among the general public as they are across the private and public sectors – and accounting isn’t immune. Phishing attacks tend to arrive as emails that impersonate a valid institution, such as an accountant or a bank. The recipient is then directed to click on a convincing-looking link that ultimately sends them to a malicious website. They may also be asked to download an attachment on the email that turns out to be malware.

While on the surface it sounds fairly innocuous, the sheer number of phishing attacks that occur every day and the havoc they can wreak on a business is staggering. In 2018 alone, Australian businesses fell victim to 5,800 phishing scams, resulting in more than $7.2 million in losses – up 53% from the previous year.

Things don’t look like slowing down any time soon, either, with the Australian Cyber Security Centre warning of a major increase in phishing scams on accounting firms and their clients post-COVID.

The damage is not only financial

One of the most common falsehoods of a cyberattack is that it is only a problem for the business’s bottom line. There will be costs to retrieve stolen data and patch up cyber-defences, and potentially fines to pay if they were in breach of industry regulations. But it’s much more complicated than just a monetary issue.

In addition to the financial fallout, an accounting practice can suffer significant reputational damage if they are breached, leading to an exodus of current clients and a tarnished name in the financial services sector.

Perhaps even more devastating can be how it affects the inside of the firm. This could result in:

  • Direct loss of turnover.
  • Increased staff churn.
  • Management spending their time on tasks that aren’t profit-generating.
  • Clean-up costs.
  • Reduced competitiveness.
  • Employees fleeing to more secure competitors.

If not for the financial and reputational costs, it simply makes good business sense to educate your team and deploy the right cybersecurity tools to thwart any attempted breaches. The alternative could spell the end for your practice entirely.

The growing risk of cyber threats shouldn’t stop you from embracing all the benefits of digital. In fact, a software solution like APS can offer best-in-class functionality and integration while supporting your practice’s cybersecurity strategy. Contact us today or call (+61) 2 9965 1300 to request a demo and find out more.

To find out more about APS software, visit www.aps-software.com.

APS is a division of Reckon, an ASX listed company. We develop the software used by the best Accounting Firms in Australia and New Zealand to run their business’ and advise their clients.

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