Impact of COVID-19 on cybersecurity
The global pandemic significantly intensified fraudulent activities as many people become more vulnerable to cyber threats while working remotely. According to the Annual Cyber Threat Report 2020-21 from Australian Cyber Security Centre, there were over 67,500 cyber-attacks reported, an increase of nearly 13 per cent from the previous financial year. During the fiscal year 2020-21, the ACSC recorded self-reported cybercrime losses of more than $33 billion.
Accounting industry is the key target of cybercrime
Ever since the “notifiable data breaches” provisions of the Privacy Act came into effect in 2018, the accounting industry has continued to be the top target for cybercriminals in Australia. Accountants, finance professionals and business owners who have access to sensitive financial and other personal client data are at the front line of cybercrime. Unsurprisingly, small and medium-sized accounting firms, which often lacks of sophisticated security defense infrastructure, are commonly at higher risks.
Challenges in protecting accounting firms from cyber threats
To defend against the increasing frequency of phishing attacks and data breaches, many organisational (setting up security policies) and technological solutions (VPNs, disk and email encryption, Data Loss Prevention, etc.) are recommended for accounting firms. However, oftentimes it comes at a very high cost during the whole process of purchasing the licenses, installation and configuration, maintenance, operating and monitoring. That is especially true for small to medium-sized firms with limited resources.
In another context, acquiring outsourcing as a viable cost resilience strategy during and after the pandemic, Australian accounting firm owners are now concerned that the benefits of this model may be hampered by the greater potential cyber threats. As a result, there is a growing demand of being fully protected against and well aware of these risks among accounting firm owners.
Reducing the risks of becoming a cyber victim for Australian accounting firms
Using an experienced outsourcing provider with strong systems and strict security policies can help Australian accounting firms response to a new level of cybersecurity risk. Indeed, part of your outsourcing strategy should be to have a comprehensive due diligence on your outsourcing partner before selection, and insure you are dealing with a sufficiently large firm with an internal IT department, who are committed to deploying cybersecurity to Australian standards.
If you’d like to talk more about how Odyssey can assist your firm without compromising security, drop us a line.