Accounting and CPA firms need cybersecurity awareness training to protect their valuable data and reputation. In our previous blog, Why Accounting Firms Need Cybersecurity Awareness Training and Testing, we covered the value of continual IT security education and training programs for accounting and CPA firms looking to reduce their IT security risk and avoid the potential costs associated with a data breach.  

In this blog, we will cover what an effective cybersecurity awareness education, testing, and training program for accounting and CPA firms should look like. It’s important to note that first and foremost, an effective approach is iterative and that it takes a targeted approach towards identifying and remediating the risks associated with uneducated employees.  

There are three main components, regular cybersecurity awareness education, testing, and training. In the sections below, we will outline what each piece includes and how, when combined, each of the three pieces works together to reduce your business risk and protect your firm’s reputation.  

What is Cybersecurity Awareness Education?  

Cybersecurity awareness refers to your team’s approach to IT security in their daily lives. Cybersecurity awareness education is the continual process of informing your team about the latest cyber threats and cyber attacks to help them keep IT security top of mind in everything they do.  

Cybersecurity education courses should be completed by both your current and future employees to teach them IT security best practices, how to recognize social engineering attacks, and how to respond when faced with a potential IT security incident. As threats continue to evolve, your accounting firm needs to evolve its IT security strategy to defend against hackers and internal vulnerabilities. To do so requires that your firm set clear policies around data governance and responding to cybersecurity threats.  

To keep cybersecurity awareness top of mind, and provide the IT security education your employees need, it takes more than a few online courses to do the trick. In the following sections, we will cover why routine testing and training are also key to building your cybersecurity awareness training program for accounting firms like yours.  

 What Are Simulated Phishing Tests & How Do They Promote Cybersecurity Awareness for Accounting Firms?  

Your Cybersecurity Awareness Training should help your accounting firm understand how vulnerable your organization is to social engineering attacks and identify where your vulnerabilities lie. Your organization can then use this information to work with your Chief Information Officer (CIO) and design the right cybersecurity education program to improve the human element of your IT security defense.  

For example, if a client emails a request for your team to complete a wire transfer of funds, your employees should know they’re required to call the client for verbal confirmation before completing the request, an easy way to prevent your staff from falling victim to hackers looking to trick employees into completing fraudulent transfers and putting your firm’s information systems and financial data at risk.  

However, as new social engineering tactics are deployed by hackers, your team should be educated on how to recognize and stop such phishing attacks before they impact your firm. During high-stress times like tax filing season, employees are more likely to overlook potential threats and fall victim to hackers looking to exploit human vulnerabilities that accompany the ebbs and flows of your business 

What Can Cybersecurity Awareness Training Do for Your Firm?  

At Aldridge, we help the accounting and CPA firms we work with to deploy monthly simulated phishing attacks and cybersecurity training for their employees. The goal is to use the same social engineering tactics as a hacker to trick your employees to open a fake spam email, click on a “malicious” link, or engage in any other potentially risky way with the simulated attack.  

However, the goal is not to shame employees for these kinds of mistakes, but to provide additional, targeted education and vulnerability-based training to help them not make the same mistake when presented with a real IT security threat.  

If an employee clicks on a link within a simulated phishing email, they can be automatically enrolled in further security awareness training. This data can also provide your firm with insights into how well employees are maintaining a culture of cybersecurity awareness across your organization, helping your leadership team and CIO establish baseline IT security KPIs you can work to improve over time.  

Building a cybersecurity awareness training program requires understanding your level of internal risk to deploy the proper level of IT security education and training across your organization. Aldridge provides cybersecurity services and employee training for accounting and CPA firms like you who are dedicated to protecting their valuable data. To better understand your accounting firm’s IT security risks and get started with a training program of your own, schedule time to speak with a member of the Aldridge team today.