Cyber criminals homing in on accountants

As professional services firms increasingly become targets for cyber criminals, accountants have a duty of care to ensure their practices are secure, according to BDO’s national leader of cyber security.

Speaking to Accountants Daily, BDOs national leader of cyber security Leon Fouche said cyber security is becoming more important by the day.

“We are becoming more interconnected; everyone has some sort of a social presence, digital footprints are increasing for the average organisation, so organisations need to understand what is at risk,” he said.

Cyber criminals are increasingly targeting professional services firms, according to Mr Fouche.

“Professional services organisations, such as law firms, accountants and health providers, they all have a lot of confidential and sensitive information, so criminals are now starting to break into those environments and actually get confidential personal information and commit fraud,” he said.

“So if you're an accounting firm, your clients’ information is as risk because if the criminals get access to that they can then use that information to go and commit fraud.”

Mr Fouche said it’s crucial that accounting firms place the same level of importance on keeping their clients information safe as the clients themselves do.

“It comes down to, as professionals, you have a duty of care to protect that information that you hold safe,” he said.

Mr Fouche said it comes down to conducting awareness training for employees, because they're typically the first contact criminals have with an organisation.

“[Cyber criminals are] either going to send a phishing email or they’re going to get someone to go to a website which is infected. So by not having aware and trained staff, the risk that you'll be compromised is increased significantly,” he said.

“I think that has to be regularly communicated, not just a once-off when you start. It needs to be an annual process and it needs to be tested to make sure that your staff are aware.”

 

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