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Identifying 5 cybersecurity threats in accountancy 

9th Apr 2024
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Bright was created in 2021 when Thesaurus Software Ltd. and Relate Software Ltd. decided to join...
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In the rapidly evolving landscape of accountancy, safeguarding sensitive financial information has never been more critical. As technology continues to advance, so do the cybersecurity threats that pose risks to accountants and their firms. From phishing scams targeting confidential data to ransomware attacks crippling operations, understanding five of the most common cybersecurity threats in the accounting industry is paramount for ensuring clients’ data security and integrity. 

5 common types of cybersecurity threats 

1. Phishing attacks 

A phishing attack is when an attacker deceives an individual into sharing sensitive information by posing as a trusted entity. Phishing attacks are the most common form of a cybersecurity attack, with 3.4 billion phishing emails being sent each day, and almost 80% of cyberattacks on UK businesses in 2023 caused from phishing. usually conducted through email, but SMS, social media, phone calls and other methods have been used too. 

2. Malware attacks 

A malware attack happens when harmful software gets onto someone's computer without their permission, aiming to cause damage, or steal information. This software can come in many forms, like viruses or spyware, and can sneak in through emails or downloads. 

3. Password attacks 

A password attack is when someone tries different methods to guess or steal your password to gain unauthorised access to your accounts or data. This can involve guessing, using software to crack the password, or tricking you into revealing it. 

4. Human error 

A human error data breach happens when someone accidentally exposes sensitive information, and accounts for almost 75% of all data breaches. This can be due to mistakes like sending an email to the wrong person, not securing data properly, or clicking on a malicious link. These unintentional actions can lead to unauthorised access to private data.   

5. Insider threat 

An insider threat data breach in cybersecurity is when someone within an organisation, such as an employee or contractor, misuses their access to expose sensitive information deliberately or accidentally. This can lead to unauthorised sharing of company data, putting the organisation's security at risk. 

What puts accountancy practices at risk? 

Accountancy practices are magnets for cybercriminals due to the valuable information they handle, such as personal and financial details of individuals and businesses.  

When cybercriminals succeed in breaching a firm's defences, the consequences can be severe. Not only can a cyberattack lead to the theft of critical financial information, but it can also damage the firm's reputation, leading to loss of clients and revenue. The aftermath of such an attack could include legal penalties from the ICO, costly recovery processes, and a long-term trust deficit with clients. Given the potential for both financial and reputational ruin, the stakes are incredibly high for accountancy practices to secure their systems and data against these ever-present threats.Ways to protect your practice 

Luckily, there are steps you can take to protect your clients’ data, including: 

  • Conduct regular cybersecurity training sessions to educate staff on identifying and avoiding phishing scams. 
  • Utilise robust antivirus software and firewalls to defend against malware and password attacks. 
  • Implement multi-factor authentication and regularly update passwords to enhance security measures against unauthorised access. 
  • Encourage a culture of vigilance and emphasise the importance of reporting suspicious activities to mitigate risks related to human error and insider threats. 

How cloud accounting software can help 

Cloud-based accounting software can enhance a firm's cybersecurity defences through robust security measures, encrypted data storage, restricted access controls, and real-time monitoring capabilities. By leveraging these features, firms can better protect their financial information against various cyber threats, making cloud accounting software a proactive and effective solution for bolstering cybersecurity.  

Book one of our free demos today to learn how Bright’s suite of cloud-based products can help protect your practice. 

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 Written by Elaine Carroll | Bright