Why Accounting Cybersecurity Needs to Increasingly Account for Mobile Security Solutions
Sure, you have your firewalls and antivirus tools in place. You may even have what you feel to be the best network security money can buy, right? But, does your accounting cybersecurity solution account for mobile security in the most up-to-date fashion?
With BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) increasingly on the rise, and more financial industry workers and associates logging in by smartphone, laptop, and tablet – your CPA firm should be prepared with agiler mobile security tools.
The Mobile Factor in Accounting Cybersecurity Best Practices
With the surge in popularity of smartphones, industries of every kind are now going mobile. Accounting is no exception. Accounting firms large and small are implementing mobile technology to improve productivity and allow accountants to better interact with clients.
As an accounting professional, this new technology will affect your business and career. There are certainly benefits of mobile accounting practices, but there are also a lot of issues for accounting firms to consider and decisions for them to weigh as they begin embracing mobile technology (such as accounting cybersecurity).
The Benefits of Mobile Accounting
Today, people have access to their cell phones, tablets and other mobile devices 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This allows for greater connectivity not only among colleagues in the accounting profession but also between them and their clients.
While 24/7 connectivity can be too much – certainly accountants, like professionals in any industry, need a sustainable work-life balance – it can also be a great help during crunch-time periods, like right before the annual April 15th income tax deadline. Accountants can also use mobile technology to keep track of interactions and see if a matter requires urgent attention, or if it can wait.
Mobile technology can also allow for some flexibility and mobility for accounting professionals, Accounting Web reported. This technology allows accountants to work and access the firm’s network remotely, so they can work from anywhere.
The Issues Accounting Firms Consider When Going Mobile
Implementing mobile accounting isn’t as simple as it may sound. There are a lot of questions firms need to consider, according to Accounting Today.
Some of these concerns revolve around the firm’s goals. Not every accounting firm understands mobile accounting the same way or uses it for the same purpose. Firms need to decide what their goals are and how they will achieve those goals. Which of the firm’s personnel will have mobile privileges? Will the company provide a device, or will the employees use their own?
Then there are concerns about keeping the technology up-to-date and secure – with solid accounting cybersecurity measures. With technology constantly evolving, embracing mobile accounting isn’t a one-time change. Firms will need a plan to update the technology regularly to help keep employee systems running efficiently and prevent security vulnerabilities from emerging.
How will they comply with regulations? How will the company protect clients’ sensitive financial information from hackers and cyber attacks?
Accounting firms also need to make technical choices. Is an app more suited to their goals, or a mobile website? Should the firm make the same tools available in both formats, or restrict those tools to users who have downloaded an app? Different people use a wide variety of different devices, and the technology must work efficiently on all of them.
As you adjust to today’s changing accounting climate, there’s a good chance that mobile technology will play a role in your professional life – especially as more accounting firms continue to jump on the bandwagon and take their business mobile.
Though we’ve all become aware of the rise of mobile marketing in recent years, and with how ingrained mobile devices are in our lives as both consumers and professionals today, it shouldn’t really be considered a “trend,” but rather a fluctuating constant in the world of business IT.
Optimizing for mobile (if not creating a dedicated mobile marketing strategy) is something you should’ve done by now, but if you haven’t, you should seriously consider it for 2018.
The Proof is Clear: Accounting Cybersecurity is a Must-Have
Those in the financial sector know that CPAs need to be at the forefront of accounting cybersecurity to safeguard the sensitive personal and corporate financial information they handle.
A 2015 Report—based on surveys of ACCA professionals, including CFOs, managing directors, senior vice presidents and practicing accountants—pointed to weak communication between line managers and senior managers about attacks and attempted attacks. The application of fundamental risk management cybersecurity practices needs to be applied more consistently throughout some firms, the report suggested.
“For accountants, measures must be taken to ensure that the sensitive personal and corporate financial information they handle is safe: accountants need to be at the forefront of cybersecurity,” said the report’s author, Dr. Jonathan Hill, interim dean at Pace University’s Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. “This is particularly true today, as clients and consumers are more aware than ever of the cyber vulnerability of all businesses.”
Hill also notes that expediency is driving people to flout security protocols, ignoring the possibility that hackers are trying to access their information through open Wi-Fi networks and other means.
“Nobody takes this more seriously than financial professionals because they are trusted with this information,” said Hill. “We’re at a point now with these huge break-ins that are so prevalent in the media. Barely a day goes by when we don’t learn of a Fortune 500 company or a government agency that has had some type of cyber break-in. State legislatures, for example, are driven to find someone to hold accountable, and they’re looking at those very same financial professionals.”
In the survey, ACCA members were asked about company policies and personal practices regarding accounting cybersecurity, along with how evidence of cyber attacks is communicated within firms. The findings highlighted various weaknesses. Nearly 50 percent of the respondents indicated it was somewhat or very likely that consultants would be hired after a breach. Nearly 70 percent said they had a high or very high level of awareness of their company’s cyber risk management policies and procedures.
In addition, 57 percent of surveyed accounting professionals said their IT systems were well-protected against cyber threats, while 32 percent of the respondents said they had no knowledge of company policy on data encryption in transit or in storage.
Auditors are more concerned about cybercrime now than a year ago (58 percent for auditors compared with 48 percent for accountants). Only 27 percent of accountants felt their firms adhered to Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies (COBIT 5) standards, whereas 43 percent of auditors believed their firms followed the standards.
[Source credits: Accounting Today, Masters-in-Accounting.org]
The Quick Poll survey of 130 chief audit executives conducted in June 2016 by the IIA, the Audit Executive Center (AEC) and the Internal Audit Foundation (IAF) found that more than a third of respondents are turning to security operation centers as part of their cybersecurity strategy.
At the same time, a growing number of organizations are recognizing that ‘100% protection, 100% of the time’ is unachievable, the report says.
How about you? Do you feel 100% confident in your current accounting cybersecurity strategy?
Do You Need to Implement Better Accounting Cybersecurity Practices?
If you’re ready for the best accounting IT solutions in Maryland and the DC area, give Intelice Solutions a call today to talk to one of our accounting cybersecurity and mobile solutions experts in Washington DC, Frederick MD, or Herndon VA at (301) 664-6800 or send an email to our office and we’ll answer any questions you may have.