The pandemic has affected business in all sectors and industries, but it has also given rise to a different kind of pandemic: a “cyber pandemic.” Specifically, 2020 was a year of more cyber-attacks, ransomware attacks, and data breaches than usual. And remote work has also changed the technology infrastructure of many different CPA firms.
Are you protecting your firm from any potential issues? You do have time before the next busy season to address your technology infrastructure, but how exactly should you go about improving it? Here, we discuss how you can improve your firm’s technology infrastructure before next year’s busy season.
Improve Your Firm’s Security
Cybersecurity is constantly evolving and continuously educating yourself about the latest threats is one of the most critical aspects of improving your infrastructure. What steps are you specifically taking to ensure that you are thinking about, and preventing, any future cyber-attacks?
First, you should require all team members to complete simulated phishing email training of some kind. There are many different platforms that offer this kind of training such as Practice Protect, or Curricula to name a few. During this training, employees will take a course that will educate them on how to identify these emails. Team members will be sent fake phishing emails periodically to test their knowledge and if an employee interacts with the phishing emails in any way, they will be prompted to take more training until they can personally identify phishing emails on their own.
Second, every firm should recognize that storing client data on personal devices is an unnecessary cybersecurity risk. Enforce a strict personal device policy at your firm. Third, confirm termination access and data deletion for all employees that leave the firm.
It’s also worth considering password management software, such as LastPass or Practice Protect. The added benefit here is that you are not only protecting your company since unique passwords are generated every time – but your team also doesn’t have to memorize passwords anymore. Two-factor authentication is included within the software which provides an additional layer of security.
Implement a Disaster Recovery Plan
Many firms make the serious mistake of not developing a disaster recovery plan. A disaster recovery plan is critical because you can find out exactly how much time it would take for your firm to be up and running again in the event of a data breach or cybersecurity incident of some kind. Your firm should account for and adapt consider multiple scenarios and develop plans/strategies for disaster recovery.
Daily cloud backups are recommended for firms that are serious about keeping their data safe and secure. Cloud backups can also encrypt your data, and firms can automate the entire process. You can also pair cloud backups with local backups so that data can be accessed, no matter what, even after a cyberattack.
Another great benefit to having a disaster recovery plan is that your firm can keep its data safe without having to pay a ransom for a decryption tool eventually. This is important because it could potentially save your firm millions, and also prevent your reputation from being permanently damaged.
Improve Remote Access
The pandemic has led to your organization “going remote,” and now it’s time to ensure that remote access is seamless so that team members can remain productive. One of the first steps you can take is to ensure that your Internet speed is sufficient.
Video calls with clients and business partners are more common than ever before which is why it’s crucial that your internet speed is exceptional. Be sure to run an internet speed test to ensure that remote access is seamless. We recommend a download and upload speed of at least 50 Mbps (megabytes per second).
It may even be worth it to offer a work-from-home stipend of some kind to ensure that employees have the tools they need. It could be a docking station, a stand-up desk, or a large monitor – but the stipend may be a small investment compared to future productivity. Also, remain open to feedback that could help keep employees happy and productive.
Take Advantage of Microsoft 365 Solutions
There are some incredible Microsoft 365 tools that can help keep your firm secure. One of the most obvious Office 365 solutions is SharePoint. Thanks to its advanced features, SharePoint can help your firm migrate to the cloud, sync everything together, save files, and collaborate in real-time with workers. SharePoint is critical not only for collaboration and communication, but it helps improve your firm’s overall technology infrastructure. You can learn all there is to know about SharePoint by reading our previous blog here.
Microsoft Teams is also incredibly useful for collaboration, and it allows for fast file sharing (that is also linked to SharePoint). The beauty of Microsoft Teams is that you can create different teams based on specific roles and objectives, and it can help with overall firm productivity and efficiency.
Lastly, Microsoft Booking makes it extremely easy and convenient to book meetings with clients. Instead of going back and forth nonstop, Microsoft Bookings can sync to your Microsoft Outlook. In fact, it can act like a reliable “personal executive assistant” to help ensure that you are communicating with and booking new clients for your firm.
How to Get Started – Download the Tech Guru Technology Prioritization worksheet
It can be overwhelming to identify and prioritize technology for your CPA firm, but we can help! Download our free technology worksheet to help improve your firm’s technology infrastructure, establish realistic technology goals, and set your plan in action!