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Top Cybersecurity Risks for CPA Firms in Miami

Cybercriminals are always hunting for identity theft victims. It is becoming increasingly important for you to take proactive measures to protect your clients’ personal and financial information. It doesn’t matter if you work by yourself or for a large accounting firm—digital security risks are a growing concern for everyone in the accounting profession. Those who don’t address these concerns are putting themselves and their businesses at serious professional liability risk.

There has been a rise in cyber attacks since the Coronavirus pandemic set in. 80 percent of firms have seen an increase in cyberattacks. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly important to take proactive measures to protect clients personal and financial information.

The truth is, cybercriminals are always hunting for new victims. Gartner research shows that the cyber security market will be at $170.4 billion by 2022.

We’ve already seen countless instances of hackers targeting businesses and institutions and getting paid millions of dollars in ransom money. Cities like New Orleans and Naples, Fl have suffered severe attacks that compromised their systems and the security of the cities themselves.

Since financial institutions are trusted with much of their client’s personal data, they are high valued targets for hackers.

Here are the Top Cyber Security Risks CPA Firms in Miami are facing:

Ignorance

While the advanced abilities of modern cyber criminals may seem obvious, too many businesses do not grasp the reality of the frequency and the severity of the threat. One study estimates that 97% of companies have already experienced a breach of some sort, meaning at least one hacker has bypassed all layers of security. The threat of cyber security is real, and ignorance offers no protection.

Poor Passwords

Passwords are the most basic defense against unwanted digital access. How secure are your passwords? Are you using them to their fullest potential? For most corporations, poor passwords are a major security risk. About 76% of corporate network breaches are directly related to lost or stolen credentials, like easily hacked passwords. Change your password immediately if it is “123456,” “password,” or something equally unsafe. Be sure to follow best practices for strong passwords like a long chain with varying types of characters.

Internal Threats

Internal threats usually come from individuals who misuse their information access. Unfortunately, no matter how careful your firm is, you may have an unscrupulous employee on your hands. Also, service vendors may find themselves in a building where sensitive information is on display. It’s important to restrict access to information to employees on a need-to-know basis.

The Cloud and Other Technological Vulnerabilities

Unless you have Managed IT experience, finding all the technological vulnerabilities in your software and hardware is nearly impossible. Every application and operating system on your computer, phone, or tablet can have a vulnerability, and it only takes a hacker one moment to exploit it once it has been found. When you use cloud-based storage, you add another layer of vulnerability. Work with an IT professional and be sure to review your cloud-based service providers often.

Phishing, Malware, and Hacking

4,000 firms were analyzed in a 2020 Verizon report and they found that 52 percent were a result of hacking.

Phishing and malware are malicious attempts to access sensitive data. Phishing is the process of sending an email that entices a reader to click on an attachment and enter personal data, which opens the computer to a hack. Malware is malicious software installed without a user’s knowledge with the purpose of hacking the computer or otherwise disrupting its function. Both are a risk for the modern CPA. All it takes is an involuntary click on a seemingly innocent email to infect a computer or release sensitive information.

Of course, you also have the risk of being hacked.

As a data collector and caretaker, a CPA has a legal responsibility to remain compliant with government regulations. Over time, the data that is stored in order to remain compliant becomes a threat in and of itself. If the data is not properly stored, or if it is not able to be found in the event of an audit, your firm could face a large set of legal risks.

How to Defend Against Cyber Security Threats

Work with an IT professional

Work with an IT professional to ensure you have proper security protocols in place. Review any cloud-based service providers to see if they have good security measures as well. Perform a security risk assessment to stop any potential problems before they can grow.

Understand and Protect the Flow of Confidential Data

Make sure you understand the flow of confidential data in your firm and enforce proper security procedures. Review access controls to ensure only those who should see data have access to it. Train, vet, and monitor your employees, and carefully screen any service providers or vendors who come to your facility. Make sure customers are not able to see the data of others when they visit your facility.

Create an Information Security Plan

Have a written information security plan that includes a timely purging of generic data sets. Train your employees to adhere to these rules. Review the plan periodically among leadership staff as well as employees.

Reduce Your Risk with Professional Liability Insurance

Protect yourself with proper insurance. While all of these risk reduction strategies are important, the most important way to protect yourself and your business is through professional liability insurance. Purchase a policy that properly addresses all potential cybersecurity exposures.

Protect Your Firm from Cybersecurity Threats

For CPAs, protecting data can quickly become a full-time job. It is your ethical and legal responsibility to do everything in your power to protect your clients and their personal data. Beyond that, you need to protect yourself—Cybersecurity risks are very real in this modern world. By following these strategies and obtaining appropriate liability coverage, you can fight cybersecurity threats head on.

Conclusion

The cyber risks are so great these days that management must get involved to ensure that appropriate mitigation strategies are in place. We all know the first step to treating addiction is admitting there is a problem. Similarly, the first step toward cyber security is acknowledging that you are at risk.

 

Be careful with social engineering scams that install malware

Reduce Malware Infections in 7 Steps

7 IT Solutions To Reduce the Risk Of Malware Infections

Friday, June 26 2020 The University of California at San Francisco School of Medicine paid over $1 million to regain access to data after hackers encrypted it with malware.

Situations like this happen all the time. Unfortunately, businesses and institutions across the world have failed to properly prepare for cyberattacks. In many cases it’s a matter of outdated infrastructure and insufficient funding. In other cases, it’s neglect or improper training.

Because of the fact that if your system is infected, you likely won’t be getting your files back unless you pay the ransom, you likely don’t want this to infect your work systems. One of the ways to limit the possibility of this is to educate your employees on how to minimize the chances their systems will be infected. Here are seven practical IT solutions to reduce the risk of malware infections.

1) Watch out For Vulnerabilities

Cyber attackers are using all kinds of technology to exploit networks and systems. One piece of malicious tech they use are exploit kits. Exploit kit, also exploit packs, are programs used to deliver malware to a vulnerable network.

What do I mean by vulnerable? A vulnerability in software is a mistake, or error, in the code. The hacker manipulates the user into visiting a malicious website and if any errors exist in the code of the system, the exploit can be implemented.

Furthermore, exploit kits function in the background making it difficult to determine when you’re experiencing an attack.

Update your operating system, browsers, and plugins. If there’s an update to your computer waiting on queue, don’t let it linger.  Additionally, updates to operating systems, browsers, and plugins are often released to patch any security vulnerabilities discovered.

You can protect yourself from these types of attacks by avoiding links and remembering to update your software. Many of us have the nasty habit of putting off systems updates. The little icon in the corner that reminds us of a new update is often seen as a bother. However, consider the alternative.

These systems updates fix any security vulnerabilities the developers and programmers uncover. There is actually a type of vulnerability called a Zero-Day vulnerability and it happens when hackers exploit undiscovered or unintended vulnerabilities. The malware is actually called zero-day exploits.

This applies to mobile phones as well. Software updates on your phone are meant to strengthen the software and patch any flaws the programmers missed when releasing the software. Software is constantly improving because code is constantly improving.

This explanation in many ways oversimplifies the process but it works for our purposes.

2) Remove Software and Files From your Systems You aren’t using

We’ve all heard of spring cleaning. We look through all the things we have and toss out what we don’t use. If we let things accumulate they create clutter and can create big problems. Well, the same thing applies to software on your devices.

You have to periodically look through all the software on your devices and determine which ones are outdated and which ones are worth keeping. For example, Microsoft no longer releases software updates for Windows 7 and Windows XP. Furthermore, using these applications without support or patch updates puts you in a position to get hacked.

How old are the applications you use? When did you last update them?

Do your homework and find out or someone else will.

3) Be aware of Social Engineering

Cybercriminals spread malware into your systems through social engineering tactics like phishing. There are older, less commons ways too that are worth going over. In some cases, a hacker will place an unlabeled USB in a public place or an office. The idea is that an unsuspecting victim will pick it up, consider it harmless and claim it as their own. This is also a form of social engineering because it still manipulates users into executing a certain action.

There are anti phishing tools you can use like Retruster that protect against fraudulent emails, phishing and ransomware. There are also many plug ins available for free that help users identify malicious links by creating a “safe to click” marker on them.

4) Inspect your Inbox Like Your business depended on it: Because it does.

Understand that the biggest vulnerability your business has walks on two feet. It doesn’t matter how many tools, tips and software updates you have if you fall for a social engineering scam. And it doesn’t just happen to small companies either.

Facebook and Google put together were victim to a payment scam of over $100 million. Between 2013 and 2015 a Lithuanian hacker managed to send each company fake invoices while pretending to be an Asian manufacturer they were in business with.

This is an example of Vishing, a.k.a. voice phishing. Leading to the next point:

5) Always Verify credentials with Cold Callers

Vishing is a bit more difficult to pull off on companies. However, when done correctly it can generate a huge amount of profit for the scammer like I mentioned with Facebook and Google.

Depending on the company you might get a call from someone pretending to be Microsoft. In other cases it’ll be a vendor or a bank checking in. It’s difficult to say in what form these scams will come because the scammers tailor them specifically for a business.

In the case of Facebook and Google, for example, the scammers had to know they two companies were working with that specific vendor.

For your company it will be different according to your specific circumstances. If it isn’t believable then the victim won’t fall for it.

6) Make sure You have a Secure Connection

Whether you’re working in the office or remotely, you need to ensure your connection is secure. If you’re working from home, perhaps you’ll need a VPN to protect your Wi-Fi connection. Additionally, when you’re browsing on the web make sure the website is secure.

7) Use strong passwords with Multi-layer authentication

A large percentage of people reuse the same passwords for the personal and professional logins. It’s time to change that habit. Companies like Google and Apple created password generators that create strong, complex passwords. However, don’t leave it up to google.

If your business doesn’t use multi-layer authentication for access to important documents, files or websites, you’re living in the past. Nerds Support uses multi factor password authentication to ensure whoever is logging in can only do so if they are the right person.

Our systems require a mobile phone confirmation, email confirmation and password confirmation in order to provide access to our systems. That way, if a device gets stolen or a hacker gains access to a password, neither will be enough to access files alone.

Conclusion

Malware attacks are growing. Now that businesses are moving towards remote work, protecting against these types of attacks are more important than ever. Cyber security is not just about the technologies that protect your important data. It’s also about what you are doing to protect your business. It is the first and the last line of defense.

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Miami Cloud Solutions Assessment For Business Owners

Get Your Free Report Today

Before Migrating Your IT to the Cloud, Be Sure to Read These Five Important Facts First!

With so many cloud computing solutions out there, how do you know which one is right for your business, and when the right time to make the switch is? This absolutely free report will give you the insight and information you need to make the right decision about migrating your business technology to the cloud, so you don’t end up spending time and money on a solution that’s not right for your unique needs.

Find out the answers to these common questions and more:

  • What exactly is cloud computing, and how can it save my business money over my current server-based network?
  • What are my choices when it comes to cloud computing, and which solution is right for me?
  • How much money can I expect to save by switching to the cloud?
  • What are the most important questions I should ask my computer technician before getting started?
  • What are the critical facts I should know about data hosting and the security of sensitive information?
  • What’s in the fine print when it comes to migrating my technology to the cloud?

Testimonial

testimonial“Working with Nerds Support and Scott has been fantastic! With their proactive approach to IT we rarely have network or PC problems. Any little problem is fixed immediately and this keeps productivity high. Any organization, no matter how many work stations, will benefit greatly from Nerds Support services.”

Is your data safe today ?

Prepare Your Miami Business for World Backup Day

One of the most important days for every Business in South Florida is World Backup Day. World Backup Day occurs every year on March 31st and it is a time to reflect on business safety and the importance of backing up company data. Considering that 2017 gave us a year of plenty cyber attacks, there is a lot to reflect on for this year’s World Backup Day. Every single day you have spent millions of hours, as a workforce, on the computer and internet. There were times when files were lost, hard drives crashed or even cases of viruses infecting your system. World Backup Day was created to remind every tech user to backup the data stored in their system. So that when disaster strikes, you are prepared.

What is the World Backup Day and Does it Affect Miami?

The phrase “Save early and save often” holds true when it comes to Miami data recovery. In the most basic form, backup is simply copying your existing files to a secondary location, using either an automated process or a manual one. This process will allow you to save drive storage space.

If these things don’t interest you, then definitely the fear of losing the most important documents stored on your laptop or computer surely will. Everyone might have heard a story about friend’s tragic hard drive crash, a night before assignment submission. As per statistics, more than 70% of organizations have experienced data loss at the workspace and small businesses reported that a single loss of data significantly affected their business.

Actually, data is SO valuable, that data records are lost, or stolen, every minute and 93% of businesses file for bankruptcy within 12 months if their data has been lost for more than 10 days

You might not think these kinds of attacks would happen in your business, but they are more common than you know. As of right now, the city of Atlanta has been working non-stop for the past six days to recover City government information from a ransomware attack. If an entire American city can become the victim of a ransomware attack, then what is stopping a hacker from accessing your business information?

Do I Need to Backup my Data on the Smartphone too?

If you do not want to lose your irreplaceable digital memories, then go ahead and do the data backup. The data loss can happen anytime and anywhere, it usually occurs when least expected. Therefore, yes backing up data on the smartphone is also essential; backup it either on your computer or on any other application, which can be easily accessible.

How to Do Data Backup?

One can create a secure data recovery according to the 3-2-1 rule. The rule creates triple redundancy for your files, which means if your one backup fails, you still have two left. Follow the below-mentioned process to do the data backup.

1. Download and install the backup software.
2. Select the files you want to back as some online services just backup all available files.
3. Schedule your data backup at least on a daily basis.
4. The downloaded software will upload your files to the server and data Centre.

Your Data is Valuable than Your Device

Make sure while doing the backup, your business technology solutions provider should offer local encryptions with a private encryption key that you only own. This feature will ensure complete safety on the server. In addition, the business IT support provider should use SSL encryption technology when duplicating the files onto the server. Once the upload is done, your provider should offer another security layer with an AES- 256-bit encryption technology to safeguard all the uploaded documents.

In a nutshell, backing your data won’t only save your time and effort but will also reduce future cost and World Backup Day is a summary of the future. Contact Nerds Support if you’ve any query regarding our data recovery plan.

A man looking closely at his emails to avoid phishing scams

Miami Phishing Emails and How Not to Get Ripped Off

There are many phishing email schemes in Miami that seem too good to be true. You might get an email or pop up as an advertisement, promising money or other luxuries. Then, as they expect, you go opening these without even thinking. Sooner than later, you might find that something horrible has happened to you, as a result of a scam.

You may have your identity stolen or money taken out of your bank account. But you also will experience an invasion of a malware that infects your computers. The truth is, you can never be too careful by having the proper programs installed.

Having your computer activity tracked is not unusual. It’s most likely to happen when you are using the internet. As a result, you could find more strange emails, bizarre ads or even worse.

The malware may also be starting back doors on your company. A hacker stealing company information is very common. So imagine if a hacker stole your company secrets and sold them to your competitors? What would happen in the event that they destroyed your backups?

One terrible instance of Phishing is when you click a link in an e-mail and your whole laptop goes black. Next, you get a message demanding a stressful fee before your files get deleted forever. This is a Ransomware attack and in 2017, attacks like these exploded into a full scale business model.

How to Avoid Miami Email Phishing Scams?

Nerds Support’s Email Protection team knows how important protecting your business can be. So it is important to know the common signs of phishing emails. Here are a few signs of phishing emails:

  • You do not recognize the sender’s email address
  • There are grammar and spelling mistakes
  • The email claims to be from a corporation
  • The email says you won a prize
  • You are required to give personal information
  • You are being asked to send money
  • There is a time frame in which you have to send your information

Using these tips will keep your company information safe, regardless of the email program you use. However, the best way to keep your information safe is by having a strong data protection plan. Nerds Support’s data protection plans are some of the best in South Florida. Our IT Support Miami specialists are always prepared to keep your business secure.

Clients who use our cloud are some of the most secure companies in South Florida. Our email servers filter through all the emails your company gets and throws away all the bad emails. That way, you only get emails that you need to make your business more efficient.

Nerds Support’s data protection team is also in compliance with the latest rules and regulations. With this, you don’t have to ever worry about company compliance. Nerds Support IT support Miami team will handle all that for you. That means, the only thing you have to do is keep your business profitable.

Looking for reliable IT security solutions in Miami? Contact Nerds Support!