A cybersecurity breach can constitute a major reputational hit for accounting firms and CPAs, even more so than for other types of professional service companies given the sensitive nature of the information involved.
While preventative activities should be ongoing, there is no such thing as complete protection. Forecasters agree that information security issues are on the rise, and we expect to see cyberattacks increase on businesses beyond major retail and financial institutions, expanding to include companies that may not have been targeted before.
However, a cyber breach need not be a fatal occurrence, and there are steps that every company can take to offset the risk.
As a basic first step, every accounting firm should have a plan for responding to a data breach. Organizations that recognize the eventuality of a data-oriented issue and plan, prepare and practice for it are in a much better position to retain trust.
Surprisingly, many companies still don’t prepare. It often gets pushed to the bottom of the priority list. But a well-crafted plan will prevent a potentially devastating loss of client trust and revenue.
Most companies that experience a cyberattack recover, but the speed and cost of that recovery are dependent upon having a plan in place.
In terms of network security, a VPN (virtual private network) is a good place to start. As a private, encrypted connection to the internet, it makes it one step harder for cyber criminals to target your information. However, all VPN providers are not equally security conscious themselves. It’s important to read industry reviews, check whether the VPN company keeps logs of user activity, and assess how and when user information is disclosed or shared.
About Laura Guitar
Laura Guitar is Executive Vice President at rbb Communications, a marketing communications agency and Champion of Breakout Brands. She leads the agency’s crisis and issues management division, Reputation & Risk Advisors, which focuses on crisis preparedness, response and issue-oriented campaigns. Laura has more than 25 years of experience guiding national and international organizations through periods of change, risk and opportunity.