Cloud technology has gained so much popularity in recent years for good reasons. Especially for the accounting firms, it has become a favorite for hosting applications and managing their data.
The cloud comes with several benefits, including remote access, high scalability, effective collaboration, employee flexibility, and smooth data transmission. However, data security still remains a significant concern for accounting firms to trust the cloud. And trust forms the very basis of the strength of relationships between an accounting firm and its clients. Thus, accounting firms need to be extra cautious when securing their data on the cloud.
That being said, there are a few steps that accounting firms can follow to ensure that their data is secure on the cloud.
1. Use a VPN
Accessing your cloud data while sipping your favorite coffee at Starbucks may seem like a great idea to relax while working. However, there are chances that it may become an open invitation to attackers. It is advised to use a VPN while accessing critical data on a public network to protect it from the prying eyes of the attackers.
2. Create a Local Backup
The first step to ensure data security is to create a local backup of your data. Creating duplicate copies of your data is essential because you will then be able to access it if there is a technical glitch in the cloud server.
If you wish to keep the backup data close to you, you can create a manual backup on your local server. This way, you can access essential data when there is no internet available.
You can also create an online backup of your data on a separate cloud server; there are plenty of online storage options available in the market nowadays.
3. Use a Strong Password
Accounting firms should use a strong password for every process. The employees should take this seriously and set strong passwords for their devices and every online account. A strong password means that it should be capable of preventing unauthorized access to your data. It should have a certain length, include special characters, upper case and lower case letters, and numerics.
For instance, you can access your QuickBooks data hosted on the cloud from any compatible device. Thus, it is recommended to create a strong password for such accounts. Although cloud hosting providers ask users to set up a strong password, it is the administration’s responsibility to ensure that the policy is strictly followed.
Please ensure that the devices used to sign in to accounts with sensitive data should be protected using a strong password as well.
4. Encrypt your Data
Data encryption is a process of protecting data from unauthorized access. For instance, “cloud hosting is great for accounting firms” is encrypted using a combination of random letters, numbers, and special characters. The encrypted text is called ciphertext. This way, the person who wants to read your data has to decrypt it first, and if an attacker gains access to it, he will be able to see only the ciphertext.
It is good to encrypt your data before uploading it onto a cloud server, even if your cloud server has a provision of encrypting it automatically. There is a range of third-party data encryption tools available that will encrypt your files. This way, the data you upload onto the cloud server will be encrypted before it reaches the server.
5. Select the Right Cloud Hosting Provider
A crucial consideration for every accounting firm to ensure that their data is secure is to choose the right cloud hosting provider. Your hosting provider should follow the necessary safety protocols and deploy advanced security safeguards. Most hosting providers follow the necessary practices, but it is wise to go through their policies and security features before coming to a final position.
Your cloud hosting provider should offer:
- Automatic data backup
- Access Controls
- Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery (BCDR) plan
- Tier 3++/Tier-4 data centers
- Other features such as multi-factor authentication, data encryption, physical security, and the like.
6. Test your security systems
According to Accenture, a malware attack costs an average of $2.6 million. Also, cyberattacks are becoming more frequent in 2020. If such high is the stake, accounting firms should not take any chance to secure their data.
Most accounting firms have started hiring ethical hackers who try to access their data (with consent) to identify security flaws. It’s vital to assess the security of your data stored on the cloud server – if a person you have hired can gain access to your data, some other attacker might succeed in doing the same.
Data security is crucial for every organization. A small data breach can cost companies millions of dollars. For instance, in a ransomware attack, the attackers demand millions of dollars in exchange for the data. The company can either pay the attackers or risk losing the data,
However, following the tips mentioned above can help businesses increase data security on the cloud. It’s safe to be better than sorry, right?