Spike in cyber attacks increases focus on data security

Spike in cyber attacks increases focus on data security

Culture change from remote working creates new challenges for firms to keep data secure

Spike in cyber attacks increases focus on data security

Maintaining data security for accountancy practices is becoming more difficult as employees and firms adapt to working from home.

According to Adam Ryan, chief services officer for Calligo, the break-up of routine can leave firms vulnerable to cyber attacks.

“It’s really been the change of culture and the change that that brings to human behaviour,” he said during an Accountancy Age Live Discussion last week.

“There’s an implied higher level of alertness when someone goes into an office than when they’re working from home. It’s not deliberate, sometimes it’s just the natural environment that they’re in. There’s a lower level of awareness to potential threats and equally, there are distractions.”

Ryan added that phishing attacks had “gone through the roof” as scammers quickly realised that working from home brought potential for more distractions, particularly for parents. Fake emails supposedly from bosses and directors had a greater chance of success.

RSM UK’s chief digital officer Chris Knowles agreed with Ryan, adding that practices had to respond quickly to the reality of the situation and take steps to have a technology solution that can cope with it.

“We’re going to have more people working remotely which isn’t necessarily just working from home. It’s working from coffee shops, working on the go. That means that we’re looking very closely at security technology to allow us to keep our perimeter as secure as possible now that our perimeter includes people working in those kind of locations,” he said during the Live Discussion.

“We need to be thinking about what are the kind of cyber-threats that are posed to an organisation like ours.”

Both Knowles and Ryan were concerned by the security implications that come with moving to platforms like Zoom or Microsoft Teams. An investigation into the security protections in place at Zoom was launched by the US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) in March after a string of hacking incidents on the platform. Despite this, Zoom usage has soared in past months.

“The accounting profession needs to come to grips with the fact that instant messaging is going to become as pervasive in our businesses as email has been in terms of a way of staff collaborating and staff communicating,” said Knowles.

“Providers of these collaboration tools have had to rush to release things like [Microsoft] Teams and make them enterprise-scale. But in terms of the data retention and data security around the technology, particularly around IM [Instant Messaging].

“We’ve got as a profession a lot of thinking about that to ensure that we comply with the relevant regulations with regard to those new ways of exchanging information.”


If you missed the Live Discussion and want to learn more about data security and how accountancy practices need to adapt to the new world, click here.

 

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