Are Accountants a Target for Hackers: How to Implement Data Security Best Practices at Your Accounting Firm

Male Accountant Handing Out Report Across Table

Accountants are a prime target for hackers. They have access to sensitive client data and are often seen as an easy target because they may not have the same level of data security as larger corporations.

In the Deloitte breach, hackers accessed one important password from an administrator. This had catastrophic consequences because the cybercriminals then got access to sensitive information from major corporate and government clients in the U.S. The whole situation could have been avoided if the accounting firm had simply used two-step authentication.

In order to protect your accounting firm from hackers, it’s crucial that your firm implements cybersecurity best practices for data protection.

Why Accounting Firms Are a Target For Hackers

The financial industry is a huge target for cyber crime, and there are many reasons why hackers choose to attack accounting firms.

Financial Gain

According to the 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report, there were over 2,527 data breaches in financial companies in the U.S. alone. The report also states that a hacker’s main motivation for attacking is financially driven and has remained as such for years.

Accounting firms are, therefore, a logical target for hackers since these firms deal with large amounts of money and have access to sensitive client data.

High-Profile Individuals and Companies

Hackers want to get their hands on sensitive information that could be used to blackmail or embarrass high-profile companies.

It’s not just the large companies that are at risk—accountants often have access to the personal financial information of high-profile individuals as well. This type of information is valuable to hackers and can be used to extort money from the individual.

Ease of Access

Another reason why accounting firms are attractive to hackers is that they are often seen as an easy target. Many small and medium-sized accounting firms do not have the same level of data security in place as larger businesses. This makes it easier for hackers to find a way into the system and access sensitive information.

For example, one study found that there were 132 disclosed accounting breaches in Maryland and 90% of the breaches were from smaller accounting firms.Therefore, to avoid a breach, it’s important to have good data security protocols in place.

Internal Errors

There are more potential entry points for hackers to exploit in accounting firms because of the amount of employees working in the firm. Additionally, employees may not be as security-savvy as they should be, which makes it easier for hackers to get in like they did in the Deloitte incident.

What Are Best Practices For Data Security?

There are many steps that you can take to help secure your accounting firm from hackers. Try these five tips for best data security.

1. Train Your Employees

The first and most important step that you can take to secure your accounting firm is to train your employees in data security. Employees should be trained on how to identify phishing emails, how to create strong passwords, and how to spot red flags that could indicate a breach.

2. Have Employees Use Strong Passwords and Multi-Factor Authentication

Hackers often use brute force attacks to try to guess passwords. If your employees are using weak passwords, it will be easier for hackers to gain access to your systems.

To create strong passwords, employees should use a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Passwords should also be at least eight characters long.

In addition to a password, employees will also need to enter a code that is sent to their phone in order to gain access. Multi-factor authenticators make it much harder for hackers to gain access to your systems.

3. Limit Access to Sensitive Data

Only give employees the access they need to do their job. In the last two years, internal threats have increased 47%. To limit the amount of data that could be compromised, restrict employee access.

4. Implement a Data Usage Policy

To help secure your accounting firm, you should have a written data usage policy in place. This policy should outline the steps that you are taking to protect your data and what employees need to do to maintain security. It should also include criteria for data access and usage.

Lastly, include consequences for failure to comply with the policy—protecting your client’s data is important and should be taken seriously.

5. Keep Systems Up-To-Date with the Latest Security Patches

Hackers are always finding new ways to exploit vulnerabilities in software. By keeping your systems up-to-date, you can help to close any potential holes that hackers could use to gain access to your data.

By following data security best practices, you can help to protect your accounting firm from cyber threats.

Why Your Firm Should Partner with a Cybersecurity Provider Like eMDTec

Cybersecurity providers like eMDTec can help your accounting firm protect itself from being hacked. 

We offer a range of services that include helping you to implement data security best practices, providing 24/7 monitoring and response, and helping you to recover from a cyberattack. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help keep your firm safe.