Cybersecurity Awareness

Is Your Remote Office Up to Snuff?



The year 2020 will go down in history among the wildest in, well, modern history. America went from record project highs at the start of the year to projected stock market ‘mehs’ within the first quarter, transitioned from open office floor plans to home office wall-climbing, ushered in the Great Toilet Paper ShortageTM and all amid an election to boot! With all that drama, there isn’t a single American that hasn’t fallen off one wagon or another over the past nine months, but October reminds us that cybersecurity is possibly the one thing businesses and professionals cannot afford to let slide.   

Last year, nearly 500,000 complaints were logged with the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), CBS News 19 reports1. With all the new opportunities afforded to fraudsters by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, those numbers are almost certainly to climb in 2020. With so many CPAs and accounting firms performing the majority of their work from home, shoring up any security concerns should be a priority for anyone charged with handling private client data.  

According to Forbes, there are several ways to take ownership of cybersecurity, including replacing weak passwords with longer, unique passwords that are not repeated on multiple accounts2. Yes, keeping a different password for every account from email to Disney+ is, on its face, a seemingly massive undertaking. However, how much is your bank account worth and, furthermore, how much is your client’s personal information worth? Trust is the most valuable commodity to any advisor. One slip is all it takes to burn the house down, especially considering the power of an Electronic Filing Identification Number (EFIN). Keeping track of all your new, shiny passwords is a lot easier in 2020 with the aid of password managers such as LastPassOneLogin and Dashlane.  

MICPA Information Technology Task Force member Greg Frazier, CPA, advises, “Ideally, you want a password manager app that syncs across multiple platforms like Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices. Case in point: My laptops run Windows but my cell phone is an Android device.” 

The owner of his own firm, Greg Frazier CPA, PLLC, Frazier adds, “And the really great news is that password manager apps are wickedly affordable, typically less than $50 annually.” 

In addition to password protection, Business 2 Community outlines six additional steps you can take to tighten up your cybersecurity3: 

“WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT – Email, social media posts, texts and more aren’t always what they seem — sometimes they harbor malware or malicious links. If you’re unsure about it, delete 

KEEP A CLEAN MACHINE – Keep all software current to reduce risk of infection from ransomware and malware 

BACK IT UP – Create backups of valuable data. In the case of ransomware or other threats, they can help prevent permanent loss 

OWN YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE – Set up privacy and security settings immediately and check them regularly to ensure they’re still configured to your comfort 

SHARE WITH CARE – Think about the potential consequences before posting personal info about yourself or others 

GET SAVVY ABOUT WI-FI HOTSPOTS – These are not secure, meaning anyone could see what you’re doing while you’re connected to them. Consider a VPN or mobile hotspot for greater security.” 

For more cybersecurity tips, visit the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency website and track the latest developments of this year’s National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM). The MICPA urges its members to do their part and #BeCyberSmart.

Source: MICPA

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