Over the past 1-2 years with the implementation of working from home there has been a significant increase in cyber attacks on these more fragile systems. A large number of Australian firms (small and large) have been subject to cyber attacks, which are growing increasingly more clever and more complex. At the same time, many firms are paying ransoms paving the way for more career minded criminals to move into this area. We’re seeing the existence more ways of viruses being pushed into critical data areas of accounting firms.
Australian accountants, as the custodians of confidential client data, continue to have a critical role in protecting their clients’ data and information. This is more critical as the move to cloud / digital, coupled with “at home” working.
The AFR recently commented that Australian accountants would more likely be seeing less work in accounting and more work in cybersecurity.
While there has been an ongoing discussion of whether accounting jobs will disappear, the discussion now appears to be headed to one where skilled accountants use AI and big data for Augmentation of their jobs.
And it may be that Accountants have more of a Cybersecurity role in their jobs in the future, so that the roles are similar (analysing data for trends and issues), but the cybersecurity role involves more timely/accurate data that can assist in identifying issues within an SME company.
It seems clear that cybersecurity skills should be part of the accountants arsenal of deployable tools in the future, and now is the time to start training up Australian accountants to have skills in these areas.
In the future, there is likely to be more cybersecurity analytical work required, which firms skilled in this area will be able to command a premium.
In the meantime, Australian accounting firms should be encouraging a discussion with their compliance staff onto moving into a real-time advisory role, which complements the discussion on encouraging their staff to pick up skills in cybersecurity and cyber analysts.
The three key cyber skills Australian accountants needs now are:
- A basic understanding of how to analyse the cyber risks within the accounting firm, and within client’s systems.
- A basic set of system tools that can be deployed to check potential cyber issues, and a pathway to escalate issues to appropriate IT technical support.
- A career pathway that involves not only the move from compliance to real-time advisory, but also the training/skills needed to analyse data for cyber issues
If you’d like assistance with your compliance work while your staff come up to speed on advisory and cyber security issues, then please drop us a line.