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A data breach is an incident where unauthorized access is gained to data that is protected under categories like Personal Identifiable Information (PII), Personal Healthcare Information (PHI), or governed by regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This unauthorized access can occur through various means, including malware attacks like ransomware or inappropriate access by employees.
CPA firms should be acutely aware of the ramifications of cybersecurity not only on their own operations but also on those of their clients. Given the sensitivity and confidentiality of financial and personal information they handle, cybersecurity is of paramount importance to safeguard both their own data and that of their clients. Proactive measures and robust cybersecurity practices are essential to prevent breaches and protect the integrity and trustworthiness of their services.
Account for sensitive data
Identifying data stored on your IT systems (don’t forget laptops, removable media, mobile devices, and cloud-based services) and making an inventory of sensitive data to ensure that it’s being managed and protected adequately is a key milestone towards compliance.
Use a strong password for everything
Having strong, unique passwords should be a critical part of your defense strategy because even if other systems are breached, a difficult password could end up being your last line of defense in the battle against hackers, for sensitive information or confidential data.
Update software regularly
Keep operating systems and third-party software updated to the latest version, install any security patches available, and having security software like as anti-virus or malware protection can help keep you ahead of the latest cybersecurity threats in real time.
Audit security measures routinely
Periodically checking on your IT systems to ensure they still meet compliance requirements and to close gaps security & compliance that leave your organization vulnerable, will strengthen your firms posture with its clients.
Becoming aware of any potential issues and responding promptly should be automated as much as possible, with review of the alerts conducted in near-real time and should include intrusion detection capabilities as well as provide security logs from servers, and other IT systems.
Continuously educate employees
Users are a common vector for cyberattacks, so training them with the IT security policies you placed both when they’re hired and on an ongoing basis, in addition to educating them about the different types of attack strategies hackers use to gain access will fortify your network by converting them into your first line of defense instead.
Develop a disaster recovery plan
A disaster recovery plan is designed to mitigate the impact of IT related security incidents, restore affected systems and applications, and communicate with affected parties as necessary. Whether it’s public relations or an internal communication with employees, practice, so employees are aware of their responsibilities and your bases are covered.
Get off-site backups in the cloud, on any device, while avoiding the traditional costs using a single installation and interface for devices and systems alike.