Protect against cyber attacks

Scam emails and other cyber threats pose a serious risk; protect yourself now


As cyber threats continue to evolve, one thing remains constant: phishing attacks remain the number one tactic cybercriminals employ to breach accountancy practices and other businesses.

Recent ICO statistics confirm the severity of this threat, highlighting the urgent need for heightened vigilance and proactive defence strategies within the accounting sector.

According to recent reports from leading cybersecurity agencies, phishing attacks account for a staggering 90% of successful cyber breaches in the financial and professional services industries. These attacks are not merely isolated incidents; they represent a persistent and pervasive threat that demands immediate attention.

At PureCyber, we understand the critical importance of safeguarding sensitive financial information and client data. Drawing upon our expertise and insights, we've compiled a comprehensive list of the top ten tips to help accountancy practices spot phishing attacks and fortify their defences against cyber criminals.

1. Stay informed: understand the latest trends and tactics

Cybercriminals constantly refine their tactics to evade detection. Stay informed about emerging phishing trends, including social engineering techniques and sophisticated email spoofing methods.

2. Verify sender identities: scrutinise email addresses and domains

Phishing emails often mimic legitimate senders. Verify sender identities by carefully examining email addresses and domains for irregularities or inconsistencies. Scam emails can claim to be from a wide range of trusted organisations, including ACCA, but with suspicious email addresses and contents.

3. Beware of urgency: question unusual requests for immediate action

Phishing emails often create a sense of urgency to pressure recipients into hasty actions. Exercise caution when opening emails particularly when prompted to provide sensitive information or perform unexpected tasks. Don’t click, always verify!

4. Scrutinise links and attachments: hover before you click

Hover over hyperlinks to reveal their true destinations before clicking. Exercise caution with email attachments, especially those from unfamiliar sources or containing unexpected file types as these can infect your systems with Malware.

5. Verify requests for personal information: validate before you share

Legitimate organisations rarely request sensitive personal or financial information via email. Verify the authenticity of requests by contacting the purported sender through official channels.

6. Monitor for unusual account activity: stay vigilant for signs of compromise

Regularly monitor account activity for suspicious logins, unauthorised transactions, or other indicators of compromise. Promptly report any anomalies to your security team.

7. Implement multi-factor authentication: add an extra layer of defence

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds an additional layer of security by requiring multiple forms of verification to access sensitive accounts or systems. Implement MFA wherever possible to deter unauthorised access.

8. Educate staff: foster a culture of cyber awareness

Invest in comprehensive cybersecurity training for all staff members to raise awareness about phishing risks and best practices for detection and prevention. Create a strong security culture and lead out of education rather than fear. Encourage users to report suspicious emails as it's better to know about an issue before it has time to spread throughout the company and potentially suppliers.

9. Utilise advanced email filtering: deploy robust spam and malware protection

Implement advanced email filtering solutions to detect and block phishing emails before they reach users' inboxes. Leverage machine learning algorithms and threat intelligence to enhance detection capabilities.

10. Conduct regular security assessments: test and enhance your defences

Regularly assess your organisation's security posture through penetration testing, vulnerability assessments, and simulated phishing exercises. Identify weaknesses and implement remediation strategies to strengthen defences proactively.

Why are accountancy practices at high risk?

All businesses are at risk, but accountancy practices represent lucrative targets for cybercriminals due to the abundance of sensitive financial information they handle. From tax returns and payroll data to confidential client records, accountancy firms possess a wealth of valuable assets that attract malicious actors seeking unauthorised access.

Furthermore, the inherently collaborative nature of accountancy work often requires frequent communication and file sharing via email, making practitioners more susceptible to phishing attacks. Cybercriminals exploit these vulnerabilities by crafting convincing phishing emails that leverage familiarity and trust to deceive recipients into divulging sensitive information or executing malicious actions.

In conclusion, phishing attacks pose a significant and persistent threat to accountancy practices worldwide. By adopting a proactive approach to cybersecurity and implementing the recommended best practices outlined above, accounting firms can bolster their defences and mitigate the risk of falling victim to phishing scams.

Next steps

Remember, vigilance and education are the keys to safeguarding sensitive financial data and preserving client trust in an increasingly digital world.