There are pros and cons to hybrid work environments. In particular, in the accounting profession the implementation of new technologies can lead to increased efficiency, but also additional risks like fraud.
All industries face data security and privacy challenges in hybrid environments. However, accountants’ routine work requires a higher level cybersecurity to ensure all client data is secure. It is crucial that accountants keep an eye out for potential fraud and protect their network systems to ensure the continued growth of small and mid-sized businesses.
How can fraud occur?
Fraud can happen in many ways. Fraud can occur in many ways. 40% of bookkeepers still print or mail checks.
Many accounting firms are now facing cybersecurity threats from hybrid and remote work models. It wasn’t unusual for firms to have the necessary Band-Aid solutions ready in the early days of the pandemic, when transitioning to remote work was urgent. Many accountants and businesses moved their data to cloud for the first-time, which is a positive step but not a panacea to safety.
Phishing attempts are on the rise. They prey on owners and employees’ stress levels, and lack of education and updated protections to help them manage through a crisis. These deceiving notes and emails, often disguised in emails from colleagues, are one way hackers can gain access the most secure networks. This is the time to improve and refine the processes that have been in place for the past two years. Prioritize more secure practices and the protection of sensitive data.
Firms can employ a variety of strategies to reduce the risks of fraud in hybrid environments. It all starts with the cloud, which is a data security standpoint.
Cloud-basedsolutions and Software-as-a-Service providers arethe most secure way to store client data, as these systems have more secure encryption methods than what accounting firms can offer in-house.This also removes the risk of stolen computers froma smash and grab robbery. It is now widely accepted that cloud storage is more secure than relying upon a paper trail. However, many firms were exposed to additional cyber risk due to the decentralized nature of staff and lack of protocols for remote work.
Accounting firms should ensure that their accountants are continuously trained in cybersecurity best practices in a hybrid environment. This includes how identify, prevent and address any type of fraud threats, digital or physical. Employees should be careful about changing passwords regularly, keeping login credentials secret, and diversifying them.
It is also important to use secure devices, networks, and software to monitor and detect phishing attempts and other scams. Accounting firms should also consider investing in and implementing AI systems to scan for errors such as duplicate payments, fraud, and basic human error.
Tech security is being strengthened
Accounting firms of any size should determine if there are any interactions that require physical or paper interaction, given the fact that many of the major players in the profession have adopted hybrid and remote work models. Accounting firms should ensure that they support practices like accounts payable and payroll that can be digitized using secure, online systems and cloud storage solutions. This will ensure the highest level of data protection.
Secure portals should be established by firms to allow clients to access sensitive documents. These documents can contain sensitive information such as Social Security numbers, bank account information, and credit card details. Never send such documents via email. Cloud-based document sharing solutions are safer. Cloud-based SaaS solutions that let you manage your workflow, approvals, and payments can offer high security and convenience in hybrid environments.
Many accounting processes were built on paper-based models prior to the pandemic. However, the growth of flexible and remote work models has only accelerated the overdue. Automated technology is a must-have for accountantsAI-enabled workflows
Firms must educate their employees about how to protect data on cloud-based servers and mitigate fraud risks before they move forward with new workflows.