October 27, 2022

Common Cybersecurity Threats and How To Prevent Them

What Is the Outlook for Cybersecurity Threats 2022 and in the Future?

Financial services are natural targets for constantly evolving cybersecurity threats. Certified Public Accounting (CPA) firms are especially susceptible because of the confidential, sensitive client data and financial records they possess. It is imperative that C-suite executives are aware of the cybersecurity vulnerabilities and threats haunting their CPA firms, despite continued efforts by CPA firm tech gurus to keep common cybersecurity threats away.

This article will review what constitutes a cybersecurity threat, the most common cybersecurity threats, as well as the biggest cybersecurity threats. Additionally, prevention tips for keeping cybersecurity threats from becoming actual attacks will be discussed.

How Is a Cybersecurity Threat Defined?

Sadly, the phrase cybersecurity threat has become so commonplace that it hardly needs defining. Yet, it is important to understand the technical elements of the term.

  • Disrupts organizational operations. A cybersecurity threat is a circumstance or event which has the ability to impact an organization's operations or assets with unauthorized access.
  • Potential to cause harm. Techopedia refers to a cybersecurity threat as, “anything that has the potential to cause serious harm to a computer system. A cyberthreat is something that may or may not happen, but has the potential to cause serious damage”. 
  • Malicious act. Another definition of a cybersecurity threat is a malicious act which tries to illegally access data, disrupt digital operations or damage operations or information.

Nefarious cybercriminals have devised myriad cybersecurity threats to challenge even the savviest cybersecurity experts.

What Are the Top Cybersecurity Threats for CPA Firms

Cybersecurity vulnerabilities and threats prevail in the financial services industry, and are constantly becoming more sophisticated. Cybercrime runs the gamut from common cybersecurity threats to the biggest cybersecurity threats imaginable—data breaches which can devastate businesses financially as explained below. 

  • Ransomware attacks. One of the biggest cybersecurity threats facing CPA firms are ransomware attacks, a type of malware attack. This type of cybersecurity threat occurs when cybercriminals threaten to take hostage a business’s computers, networks, files, or other sensitive information by encrypting their files. Once the data is encrypted, the cybercriminal will demand significant payment (ransom) to restore access to the files. Paying a ransom is not a guarantee access will be restored. Ransomware attacks are on the rise according to a 2019 Ponemon and Accenture report on cybersecurity. The findings concluded ransomware attacks increased 15% over the prior year and the study predicts increased attacks in the future.
  • Malware attacks. In addition to the cybersecurity threats associated with ransomware attacks, there are other less common cybersecurity threats. These include a Trojan virus which can attack a system. Wiper malware is a cybersecurity threat which can overwrite files and destroy an entire computer system.
  • Phishing schemes. More common cybersecurity threats involve social engineering attacks. Phishing emails are very common cybersecurity threats. In fact, according to ZDNET, over three billion phishing emails are sent every day! Phishing entails tricking people into revealing login credentials in order for cybercriminals to gain access to an organization’s internal networks. Seemingly innocuous emails, which appear legitimate, are sent to victims. This cybersecurity vulnerability and threat can be the vehicle by which ransomware is deployed. Other social engineering/cybersecurity threats include baiting, where a victim is lured with a free gift; or pretexting, where a victim provides information under false pretenses. 
  • Data breaches. Theft of sensitive financial and personal information are top cybersecurity threats for CPA firms. This type of data theft can cause significant financial loss to a CPA firm, while also harming the business’s hard-earned reputation. A study by the Ponemon Institute, titled the 2020 Cost of a Data Breach Report, revealed the annual average cost of data breaches in the United States was $8.6 million. 

CPA firms face various cybersecurity threats. The challenge for astute C-suite execs and tech pros is to proactively navigate cybersecurity vulnerabilities and threats on an ongoing basis.

Prevention Tips for Top Cybersecurity Threats 2022

It is of paramount importance that CPA firms, regardless of size or composition, deploy vigorous cybersecurity protections. Below are effective strategies CPA firms can use to deter common cybersecurity threats and the biggest cybersecurity threats in 2022.

  • Secure email. Protecting email systems with anti-malware, anti-phishing, anti-spam and other antivirus programs is a first line of defense from cybersecurity threats. Multi-factor authentication and stringent password policies help to guard against cybersecurity threats.
  • Encrypt data. Storing information in encrypted databases is an effective prevention strategy against cybersecurity threats.
  • Back up information.Data back-up systems which are physically removed from the CPA firm’s network will protect the business in the case of malware infections or theft.
  • Educate staff. Training employees to be cognizant of top cybersecurity threats is an effective prevention tool. Emphasizing password security, locking computer screens, and rebooting computers daily are preventative tactics easily implemented.  
Navigating cybersecurity vulnerabilities and threats in 2022 is challenging for C-suite executives. Fortunately, there are specialized IT service providers which can provide excellent, vigilant cybersecurity solutions and strategies.

How Can Cetrom Help Protect CPA Firms?

Cetrom is a well-respected, proven IT cloud-based security system provider specializing 100 percent on the cybersecurity of CPA firms. Cetrom’s area of excellence is hosting accounting specific operations. Cetrom’s experts have the knowledge, expertise and passion to prevent, detect, and combat even the biggest cybersecurity threats. Cetrom provides state of the art security technologies and ongoing network support and 24x7x365 cloud accessibility. Cetrom is defined by its white-glove service, which includes cybersecurity training for CPA firm employees so they are aware of common cybersecurity threats.

Concluding Thoughts

CPA firms engender trust, certainty and stability. Protecting your firm from cybersecurity threats or even worse, a cyberattack, is imperative to ensure your firm is safe from cybercriminals. Let Cetrom help defend your CPA firm so you can focus your passions on what you do best—keeping clients feeling safe and secure with their financial decisions. Contact Cetrom today to learn more about how we can help answer your cybersecurity questions and concerns. 

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