Why Your Winnipeg Accounting Firm Needs to Prioritize Cybersecurity

Michael Anderson
written by Michael Anderson posted on December 19, 2021

Despite how much businesses have come to rely on online activities, many firms still don’t prioritize computer security. And even some firms that do, don’t provide the appropriate resources IT directors need to safeguard their employer’s assets. While this is a widespread phenomenon, certain industries arguably have more to lose from weak cybersecurity measures than others. Accounting and financial services firms represent one such industry where the damage from a cyberattack cannot only be catastrophic for the firm in question, but for many other firms as well.

Accounting and financial services firms have access to a wealth of sensitive financial client data. For enterprising cybercriminals, a ransomware scheme can be incredibly lucrative. Hacked firms will feel pressure to pay the ransom immediately to regain control of encrypted systems and recover corporate and client data. Because if that data is not recovered and corporate clients suffer damage as a result, the accounting or financial firm can expect an exodus of customers, as well as potential lawsuits. Businesses that put their sensitive data into the hands of a third party expect not only their financial needs to be handled, but also for their data to remain confidential.

And while some business leaders blithely believe that because their firm has not been attacked yet or because they’re relatively small, they’re safe, that’s simply not the case. No industry, especially those in the accounting or finance sectors, is safe. Nor is any company, no matter the size. In fact, many small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are more vulnerable to a cyberattack precisely because of their size. An SMB with a skeleton in-house IT staff may not be able to keep up with the latest threat intelligence, keep security measures up-to-date, or train employees how to avoid phishing schemes and other common cyberattack methods.

In Canada, ransomware attacks cost companies $6 million, on average. Moreover, as per a recent report, more than half of these attacks – those publicly reported – were on critical infrastructure providers. Cybercriminals have shown a brazen willingness to attack any and all targets of opportunity, regardless of the potential consequences. And, because it is usually challenging for law enforcement agencies to bring the perpetrators to justice, many firms do not report they’ve been attacked at all. Instead, they simply pay the ransom and hope for the best. After all, there’s no guarantee that by paying the ransom, attackers would restore control of compromised systems, or attack a vulnerable company again.

Ransomware attacks can pose an existential threat to accounting and financial services firms, especially those with IT departments whose staff number is in the low single digits. But even more important than the number of bodies in IT is the hands-on cybersecurity expertise IT personnel have, as well as access to advanced threat assessment tools. SMBs need to empower staff with the time and resources to proactively monitor threats, investigate potential threats, and regularly test cybersecurity assets for vulnerabilities.

Unfortunately, most accounting and financial firms don’t have the resources in place to implement a top-notch cybersecurity program. Truthfully, many business leaders are in the dark about what establishing proper security measures looks like in practice. Instead, cybersecurity is one of many tasks the few in-house IT generalists are tasked with handling. As a result, these companies remain at risk.

In-house cybersecurity talent and tools come at a premium. But business leaders don’t need to break the bank when it comes to protecting their firms. They can easily contract the services of a Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP) – a company that specializes in providing cybersecurity services to local businesses.

The Benefits of Third Party Cybersecurity Providers For Winnipeg Accounting Firms

When hiring an MSSP, firms gain the advantage of having experienced cybersecurity professionals protecting their data 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. MSSP staff don’t find their time and duties diluted by help desk inquiries, pet projects, and paperwork. Instead, they spend all of their time protecting client networks, ensuring businesses like yours are safe.

Because they spend their time immersed in cybersecurity issues, MSSPs remain up-to-speed on the latest threats, threat actors, and threat intelligence. And most MSSPs specialize in working with a few select, often related industries, giving them rich insights into how client firms work. With this knowledge, they can craft cybersecurity plans that can be integrated seamlessly into a business’ operations, strategic plans, and culture. It’s not just a matter of a one-and-done software deployment. An experienced cybersecurity firm will work hand-in-hand with existing IT staff to develop comprehensive plans tailored to each client firm that will keep their confidential information secure.

Further, MSSPs usually have developed close vendor relationships that allow them to procure the cutting-edge solutions they recommend at a discount. Client firms benefit from state-of-the-art defences for which they don’t have to pay top dollar. And when client firms move their operations to the cloud, they benefit from robust security measures they don’t have to deploy or maintain. The MSSP handles the heavy lifting, keeping all client data safe day-long and year-round.

Cyberattacks are not the only phenomenon that can compromise a business’ critical IT infrastructure. Natural or artificial disasters can also wreak havoc on an accounting or financial services firm’s capacity to secure and manage client data. In these instances, firms need to be able to recover data and resume operations in short order. Experienced MSSPs can also help client firms develop disaster and business continuity plans that can position them to restart operations rapidly in the event of a catastrophe.

Cybersecurity for Western Canada’s Accounting and Financial Services Firms

If you’re a business or IT leader at an accounting or financial services firm in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, or other parts of Western Canada, we’re confident that 365 Technologies is your ideal cybersecurity services provider. Since 2010, we’ve been laser-focused on providing our clients with the best cybersecurity services possible. We not only provide security services, but we also provide a full range of managed IT services, giving us better insight into what it takes to protect all of a business’s technological assets. And our experience working with accounting and financial services firms throughout Western Canada helps us understand your most likely vulnerabilities and how to keep your firm secure.

Safeguard your business today. Contact us and let’s discuss how we can secure your firm.

Special thanks to Michael Nelson, who offers Managed IT in Sacramento with TLC Tech for his help with this article.

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