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Tax season is the busiest time of year for CPA firms. Unfortunately, it’s also a busy time for hackers looking to target CPAs during this frenzied season. In today’s world, cybersecurity isn’t just a good business practice, it’s part of the rules and guidelines laid out by the IRS for all tax professionals. CPA firms are increasingly becoming the target of cyberattacks due to the rich client financial data they hold, the increase in remote work without strong security, and their often lax protection of client data. Tax season, with its increased client communication, frequent data transfers, data storage on mobile and at-home devices, and fast-paced environment is a prime time for a number of different types of cyberattacks. However, there are steps CPAs can take to protect themselves. CPA firms can reduce their risk and ensure they protect their client’s data through several manageable actions.
Data breaches are expensive and embarrassing. What’s more they raise the added stress of potential legal action. Simply put, a CPA firm’s primary cybersecurity responsibility should be to protect their client’s data at all costs. The ways to do that during the important and hectic tax season include encrypting and safeguarding important data while minimizing the impact of any breach, ensuring employees use best practices for security, using strong cyber defense systems, and employing a competent and diligent cybersecurity team.
Protecting Client Data
Hackers can use compromised data in a few ways. They can directly steal money if they know specific account details along with enough personal information and passwords. They can also sell the data to third parties, steal an identity to get credit cards or other types of accounts, or hold the data hostage in exchange for a ransom. As such, CPA firms can take several precautions to ensure that sensitive data isn’t compromised.
Even if a data breach has nothing to do with tax filing, if your CPA firm’s cybersecurity is compromised during tax season it’s going to have a bigger than usual impact on business. Do whatever is needed to protect client data so that your tax season can boom regardless of hackers’ intent.
Provide Employee Training on Tax Season Specific Attacks
Cybersecurity training for employees may not be popular, but research shows the majority of cyberattacks that succeed are the result of human error. We’ve written before about ways to protect your firm and the most common threats to CPA firms. Ideally, employees would receive regular training on preventing cyberattacks. During tax season, employees will be targeted with threats that are believable and tailored to issues faced during filing season.
Tax season is popular for hackers as well as CPAs. Train employees to be on the lookout for scams this time of year and give them encouragement that protecting data and finances is prioritized over nonbinding time-sensitive requests.
Use Enterprise-Level Cybersecurity
At Cetrom, there are some practices and technology that we believe will offer CPA firms the most protection. Consider using multiple types of artificial intelligence technologies to detect different threats. Deploy anti-spam and anti-virus protection, use the best hardware and software you can afford, move your CPA firm to the cloud to increase protection for remote work, use intrusion detection and prevention systems, and be sure to replicate, encrypt, and backup all data. Additionally, use other safeguards like multi-factor authentication and strong passwords on networks and devices.
Lastly, ensure your security team understands the unique responsibilities of a CPA firm including an increase in cyberattack targeting during the tax filing season.
Be Sure Your Security Team is Up to the Task
At Cetrom, our security experts and engineers are available to respond to any issues 24/7/365. It’s important that your security team is available as needed, because hackers don’t work during business hours. What’s more, a cybersecurity team that can also act as a trusted advisor offers more value because they can make recommendations that help you stay ahead of the curve. Choose a security team that you can trust during tax season.
Cetrom Support fixed all of my problems, their engineers are very professional, courteous, friendly and very efficient. If all customer service out there was like...- Mid-sized