The use of cloud technology has revolutionized the accounting industry. Remember when you had to export large accounting files across multiple CDs and deliver them in person to a client?
Today’s cloud accounting programs make file sharing much simpler and less time consuming. A CPA and a client can be working on the same file at the same time, improving both communication and time efficiency.
The cloud has taken over most business processes, including ones related to customer management and even company phone systems.
The average business uses approximately 34 different cloud-based tools.
But with all that accessibility comes security concerns. It’s much harder for a criminal to get to files locked away in a filing cabinet than it is to access an entire cloud database of your clients’ sensitive financial information.
How do you approach cybersecurity for the cloud?
You should be using a cloud access security broker (CASB).
What is a CASB & Why Does Our CPA Firm Need One?
A cloud access security broker is designed to expand your network protections to your cloud applications.
CASBs, like Microsoft Cloud App Security, add a layer of protection between your users and your cloud applications to provide:
- Visibility into all your cloud business processes
- Remote user access controls
- Standard company security policies across all cloud apps
- Monitoring and analytics on cloud use
Where a firewall monitors and manages security for your on-premises network and endpoints, a CASB does the same for all the cloud applications you use.
Accounting firms are in an industry that keeps some of the most sensitive data in their cloud environments. Without centralized management of your cloud tools, controlling login security and applying standard compliance rules is difficult.
Here are the benefits of using a CASB to control your accounting firm’s cloud environment.
Protect Data with Standard Security Policies
If you put a “sensitive” watermark on a document you created in MS Word and a policy that restricts copying, what happens when that document is brought into QuickBooks Online or another of your cloud tools? Do the protections stay? They may not without a CASB.
A CASB takes over security of your cloud infrastructure so you can have the same protections that are applied in one app carried over to your other applications. Security policies will basically follow your document and remain persistent as it travels throughout your workflow.
Protect Your Cloud Data from Cyberthreats
59% of organizations have had their cloud login credentials hacked due to phishing attacks. Your cloud accounts can easily be infiltrated by ransomware, rogue applications, or other online threats.
A cloud access security broker will monitor cloud use and has the ability to detect high-risk usage and automatically make adjustments to limit risk. Just as your computer’s antivirus/anti-malware program will look for unusual behavior patterns to detect malware and zero-day threats, a CASB does the same for your cloud applications.
Control Use of Shadow IT
Shadow IT is a growing problem, especially with more employees working remotely from home. Employees begin using an unauthorized cloud app, not realizing it’s a risk, and their company has no idea.
A CASB can help you identify the use of shadow IT at your accounting firm. It also provides assessment capabilities and will give you details on the security risks of a cloud app, so you can decide how to handle data use and safety protocols.
Get Help Assessing Compliance
While it may be apparent that your cloud accounting platform is fully compliant with regulatory standards for accounting firms, what about the app you use for video conferencing?
It can be difficult to research the compliance of all your cloud tools on your own. A CASB can help.
For example, Microsoft Cloud App Security has a database of over 16,000 apps and over 70 risk categories. You can leverage those to learn if the cloud apps you’re using, or plan to use, meet relevant compliance requirements and industry standards.
Gain Visibility into Cloud Use
CASBs provide helpful reporting that allows you to see which apps your office is using the most and which ones no one seems to access.
This visibility can help you make better decisions about which applications to leverage for more functions and which may need to be replaced or removed to reduce wasted budget.
Control Cloud Data Access
Conditional access app control helps prevent data leakage by blocking unauthorized downloads of your data from a cloud application. You can also put rules into place that can force encryption of sensitive files.
See which devices are accessing your data and whether or not they’re properly secured and control access from risky IP addresses and for remote staff.
Does Your Firm Have the Cloud Protection It Needs?
Connect2Geek can help your Treasure Valley area accounting firm with managed IT security for both on-premises and cloud workflows. We’ll make sure your data is protected wherever it’s used and stored.
Schedule a free security consultation today! Call 208-468-4323 or reach out online.