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How To Safeguard Columbus Accounting Firms from Cybersecurity Threats

With recent headline-grabbing ransomware attacks on the Colonial Pipeline Company, Kaseya, and JBS Foods, it should be clear that no industry is safe. And though they often do not generate as much media coverage, small and medium-sized businesses are just as much at risk as large corporations. In fact, they may be more at risk as they often don’t have cybersecurity personnel on staff, nor do they use the services of expert managed security services providers. Cybercriminals have no hesitation about attacking a small firm if they think they can extract payment. After all, what’s a few lines of code and a few hours’ worth of work for a five-to-seven figure payout?

Why Your Accounting or Financial Firm Needs Cybersecurity Services Today

Accounting and financial services firms of all sizes represent particularly enticing targets. Not only can hackers demand a ransom to decrypt a compromised corporate network, but they can also acquire sensitive client information. This information itself can be ransomed, used to make fraudulent purchases, or sold on the black market to other criminals. A compromised accounting or bookkeeping firm can be a veritable gold mine for enterprising cybercriminals and catastrophic to these firms, from sole proprietorships to 500+ employee businesses. In fact, 60 percent of small businesses go out of business within six months of a successful cyberattack.

Many firms can’t afford to hire an in-house team of top cybersecurity talent. And even those that can often don’t know exactly what to look for. And many business leaders, especially those at the helm of smaller firms, feel understandably reluctant to engage the services of a third party. As an accounting firm owner or manager, you know that your clients are the lifeblood of your business. Your clients trust you with information that could break their business in the wrong hands. And your reputation as a top accounting firm depends on your ability not only to prepare financial statements for your clients, but also to safeguard their information.

What to Look for in a Cybersecurity Services Provider

Allowing a third-party firm to manage your cybersecurity may feel like handing over the proverbial keys to the kingdom. But if you know what to look for, you can pick the right cybersecurity partner to protect your firm and your clients from external and internal threats.

Local with Fast Response Times

Working with a local provider with deep roots in the Columbus business community can make the prospect less daunting. A local provider can provide you with on-site support – real people who can come to your business and work hands-on with your team on your most difficult problems. People who understand the opportunities and challenges of doing business in Columbus can make cybersecurity painless, not a pain point.

A local provider can also help you respond quickly to threats as they emerge. Many firms offering 24/7 service will send you to a call center or online portal, even amid a crisis. But when your systems go down before a major client’s work is due, you need a person at the ready to help you diagnose and solve the problem, not elevator music and canned responses to your questions.

Industry Experience

You need a local firm whose professional staff are cybersecurity experts to help you navigate today’s ever-evolving IT landscape. But besides proximity, how else can you find the right cybersecurity provider for your accounting business? Well, for starters, look for providers with experience protecting accounting and financial services firms. You don’t want a provider that offers generic security measures to a wide variety of businesses. Instead, look for those providers who understand how accounting firms work, typical accounting firm IT vulnerabilities, and how criminals exploit them. When a provider’s client roster is drawn from a single or a few interrelated industries, they develop rich insights into protecting businesses like yours. You want that kind of expertise working for you.

Industry expertise is also important because it helps providers understand how to work seamlessly with their team. A provider that knows accounting and financial firms in Columbus understands how IT decisions are made, what IT budgets might look like, what legacy systems may be in place, and when your peak season is. When you’ve got a provider who understands how your business works and can integrate themselves into your organization’s culture, you’ll enjoy better solutions, implement them more efficiently, and manage the changes to your business more effectively.

Vendor Relationships

Such a provider should also have strong relationships with leading vendors of the hardware and software you need. If you’re not only paying your provider but also paying premiums for the products they recommend, you’ll soon find yourself rethinking your contract. The provider should know how to work within your budget, providing the plan, resources, and implementation you need for a price you can afford.

Proactive, Not Reactive, Cybersecurity

You also want a provider that proactively searches for external threats and internal vulnerabilities rather than passively defends when a threat is detected. Often, the damage is already done by the time a threat is visible. You don’t want a firm that specializes in lessening the damage from a cyberattack but one that specializes in preventing an attack from penetrating your network.

That means a provider that monitors threats and keeps apprised of threat actors. A provider that routinely and frequently tests your existing cybersecurity infrastructure – infrastructure which not only includes hardware and software but personnel as well. A provider who works with your team to ensure every employee understands the fundamentals of cybersecurity and how they play a crucial role in keeping the corporate network safe.

Disaster and Business Continuity Planning Experience

Of course, disasters do occur. Even if your cybersecurity measures are top-notch, an artificial or natural disaster can wreak havoc on your IT infrastructure. An ideal provider has experience with disaster recovery planning and business continuity planning to ensure you’re up and running as quickly as possible. And they’d make sure that as you begin to recover, your business is not compromised by criminals exploiting disaster-related vulnerabilities.

Looking for a Local Cybersecurity Provider in Columbus, GA?

When you’ve assessed Columbus’ third-party cybersecurity options, we’re confident you’ll land on Acom Networks as your ideal provider. With nearly five decades of security experience, our expert staff specializes in providing services to businesses throughout Georgia and Alabama. Our work providing a full range of physical and cybersecurity options gives us the holistic perspective needed to safeguard your business from external and internal threats. And our work with accounting and financial services firms throughout Columbus, GA, helps us understand the business challenges you face, your likely security vulnerabilities, and the best measures available to protect your firm.

We’d love to work with you and your team to keep your data safe and secure. Contact us today, and let’s discuss how to protect your business.