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How emails leave you vulnerable & how technology can help

22nd May 2024
Brought to you by
Bright full colour logo
Bright was created in 2021 when Thesaurus Software Ltd. and Relate Software Ltd. decided to join...
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Have you found this content useful? Use the button above to save it to your profile.

In today’s interconnected world, email is one of the most central communication tools for businesses. Yet, the convenience of emails comes with significant security risks, especially when dealing with sensitive financial information.

The 2024 Cyber Security Breaches Survey revealed that half of businesses and around a third of charities (32%) report having experienced some form of cyber security breach or attack in the last 12 months. 

Among those identifying a security breach, the single most disruptive breach from the last 12 months is estimated to cost each business, of any size, an average of approximately £1,205. For medium and large businesses, this grows to £10,830.

In this article, we’ll examine the inherent vulnerabilities of email communication and how technology solutions like secure cloud platforms for accountants can help you to safeguard sensitive information and mitigate the risk of an attack.

The importance of email security for accountants

Despite being the primary mode of communication, email presents significant vulnerabilities, particularly for accountants handling sensitive data. Simple errors, such as sending information to the wrong recipient, adding another person into ‘cc’ by mistake, or falling prey to phishing scams, can have severe repercussions, leading to financial losses and damaging client trust.

Human error remains one of the most significant cybersecurity risks. Whether it’s a misaddressed email or an attachment sent without proper checks, such mistakes can inadvertently expose sensitive information. The implications of such exposures can be profound, leading to unauthorised access and misuse of critical financial data.

Phishing attacks, in particular, pose a persistent threat. These schemes involve cybercriminals pretending to be legitimate entities to deceive recipients into revealing confidential information or downloading malicious software. Phishing is especially effective because it exploits human psychology, relying on the victim’s trust and often on urgency, making it a prevalent method for targeting accountants.

Advantages of cloud document sharing

To mitigate these risks, transitioning to secure cloud-based document sharing platforms is recommended. Unlike traditional email attachments that can be intercepted or sent to the wrong person, cloud services offer enhanced security measures such as encryption and controlled access. This not only ensures that sensitive documents are protected but also allows for real-time collaboration and tracking of document access and modifications.

How you can protect your firm and clients

  1. Enhance email security: Use email services that offer strong spam filters and phishing detection capabilities. Always verify the authenticity of messages, especially those requesting sensitive information.
  2. Adopt secure cloud services: Choose cloud platforms known for robust security features, such as end-to-end encryption and multi-factor authentication. This ensures that data is protected both in transit and at rest.
  3. Educate and agree processes for phishing emails: Regularly train yourself and your staff on the latest cybersecurity threats and best practices. You can follow government guidance on the 10 Steps to Cyber Security and, if relevant, join the Cyber Essentials scheme. Being able to recognise phishing attempts and knowing to handle suspicious emails is crucial. 
  4. Implement access controls and restrict admin rights: Define clear access policies within your firm to ensure that only authorised staff members have access to sensitive data, minimising the risk of internal breaches.
  5. Regularly update systems and use up-to-date malware protection: Keep all software, including your operating systems and applications, up-to-date with the latest security patches and updates.
  6. Use strong, unique passwords: Encourage the practice of using strong, unique passwords for different accounts and systems. Consider using a reputable password manager to maintain password security. 

Cybersecurity webinar next week

Bright’s suite of accounting tools is designed with your security needs in mind. Our products are equipped with multi-layered security measures, adhering to stringent standards such as ISO 27001 and Cyber Essentials. From regular security updates to advanced phishing defences, Bright helps ensure the protection of your clients’ data at every stage.

To learn more about how to keep your and your clients' data safe and secure, register now for our CPD webinar taking place on Thursday, 30th May at 11:00 am called “The invisible threat: Identifying and mitigating cyber risks in accountancy”. Whether you're an individual practitioner or part of a larger firm, this webinar will help you understand the landscape of digital threats and the measures you can take to counteract them.

 

Register for webinar