Has Your Accounting Firm Been Hacked? Here's What To Do Next
Jun 9, 2024

Has Your Accounting Firm Been Hacked? Here's What To Do Next

Has Your Accounting Firm Been Hacked? Here's What To Do Next

Cyber criminals are evolving, crafting new and sophisticated attack vectors to launch cyber attacks on accounting firms. Accounting firm hacks primarily occur due to the sensitive and valuable personal identifiable information (PII) and financial data that accounting firms possess, including:

  • Social Security Numbers
  • Addresses Date of Birth
  • Usernames and passwords
  • Bank account numbers
  • Credit card information

It's no brainer that hackers target this kind of data as they are goldmines for identity theft and fraud. For instance, the accounting firm Deloitte suffered a cyber attack in 2017 where hackers infiltrated Deloitte’s cloud email server, giving them privileged access to 5 million client emails. The hackers extracted vital client data from the email database including usernames, passwords, business plans, and health information.

Deloitte serves top clientele like US government agencies, multinational companies, big banks, and media companies. Deloitte alerted its six largest clients about the hack. Damages of this magnitude due to an accounting firm cyber-attack induce reputational costs to the business, causing mass client exodus, and business shutdown in worst cases.

Cyber Security Monitoring for Tax Firm & Accounting Firm
Accounting Firms are Easy Targets for Cyber Crime

Why Accountants are Easy Targets?

If you want a victim to pay the ransom, you need leverage. Hackers know that Accounting firms depend on the trust of their clients. If you find out your Accountant has been hacked, would you trust them with your money? Even better, Accounting firms process most of their business during tax season. Take an Accountant offline with ransomware or email hijacking during tax season and they will pay the ransom or face oblivion.

How To Tell If Your Accounting Firm Has Been Hacked?

Tax Firm & Accounting Firm Cyber Security Monitoring
Tax Firm & Accounting Firm Cyber Security Monitoring

Accounting firm hacks result in unwanted access to sensitive client data that threat actors capture to engage in identity theft and fraud. Accounting firms must therefore take proactive steps to detect, protect, and remediate. Check out our Top 4 steps to tell if your Accounting firm has been hacked:

  1. Using a free tool to check if hackers have your passwords
  2. Using Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) and Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solutions
  3. Installing a firewall
  4. Installing a cyber security monitoring software

Now, let’s dive into these essential steps to detect hacked Accounting firms and how to protect your Accounting firm:

Step #1: Use Free Tool To Find if Passwords Have Been Hacked

Hacking a single Accounting firm employee’s email jeopardizes its entire system. Hackers are aware of this fact and hunt for the weakest link in the chain. It's not good enough to train your IT team and Senior Accountants on password hygiene. Hackers target the weakest sheep in the heard gearing and employ the shotgun approach by purchasing mass password lists and trying them, 24/7, on all of your accounts. Successfully finding an email/password combo can give hackers access to the accounting software of the entire hacked Accounting firm. The hackers then steal, alter, or delete the records on the software. If the hackers are feeling enterprising, they can ransom the account access or the data back to the Accounting firm knowing that the cost of their integrity, confidentiality, and availability is worth a lot of money to the firm!

Hacked Accounting firms can leverage free tools like Iceberg Cyber’s online Password Check tool to detect system compromise by an external actor. The tool only requires the Accounting firm to key in their emails. The tool then scans the internet for any trace of their passwords before giving feedback to the Accounting firm to initiate remediating actions if a breached account has been detected.

Step #2: Using Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) and Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solutions

IT departments can employ Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) and Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solutions to thwart cyber- attacks on accounting firms .These solutions scan through logs and intercept network traffic to detect potential security threats. An example of a SIEM solution that combs through event logs to detect any network anomalies is the Microsoft Azure Sentinel.

Iceberg Cyber - Cyber Security Monitoring for Accounting Firms & Tax Firms
Iceberg Cyber is Easy Cyber Security Monitoring for Tax Firms & Accounting Firms

Step #3: Installing a Firewall

A firewall intercepts all traffic passing through the network and filters out traffic from malicious sites and potential actors. As such, firewalls prevent unauthorized access to the Accounting firms’ online books and cloud systems.
Accounting firms can also use firewall logs to identify the nature of threats, threat actors and their attack methods. Such moves enables an Accounting firm to be proactive in its cybersecurity approach.

Step #4: Install Cyber Security Monitoring Software Going Forward

Accounting firms handle huge amounts of confidential data. Defending your Accounting firm with a cyber security monitoring solution like Cyber Reports saves both time and money for the firm. Your Cyber Report will monitor an Accounting firm's cyber attack surface 24/7, including its emails and passwords, and give real-time actionable alerts.

It's Not Too Late! Defend your Accounting From being Hacked Today

Accounting firms handle sensitive business and personal data, making them prime targets for hackers. Defending your Accounting firm doesn't require complex technical savvy and you can get started today with the support of Iceberg Cyber. Check out our blog on the 5 Pillars of Small Business Cyber Hygiene to see practical steps to get started. If you want security while staying hands-off, try the FREE TRIAL of our Cyber Reports. Iceberg will monitor your Accounting firm's cyber attack surface 24/7 and give you clear and simple risk reports in our Cyber Reports every month.

Does your MSP serve small Accounting firms keen on protecting their client data on a budget? Sign Up for Cyber Monitoring today to get your first Cyber Report this month.