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Accountancy and the threat of cybercrime

11/04/16

In the festive season, with an increased volume of online shopping traffic (this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday set a new record for internet retailing), the UK’s vulnerability to online criminals is critical.

Cybercrime has gone from being virtually unknown 20 years ago to being identified by the Government as one of the UK’s top national security risks – alongside terrorism. The perpetrators of cybercrime are no longer bedroom dwelling ‘script kiddies’ either, with powerful countries maintaining elite units of hackers.

The threat to business is now greater than ever. Research estimates that cybercrime costs large companies in the UK an average of £4.1 million a year, and there are several parts of a company’s operations at risk. In recent years, companies have had funds stolen, products in development spied upon, and their customers’ data compromised.  The latter is a particular risk for organisations given the negative publicity this can cause. TalkTalk recently hit headlines when it reported that the credit card data of thousands of its customers had potentially been compromised, which resulted in a 7% fall in its share price

The challenge posed by cybercrime is particularly acute for accountants who maintain highly sensitive and sought after client data on their systems, and a breach of financial information could be catastrophic for a firm operating in an industry that is built on trust between client and practitioner. Accountants of all sizes therefore need to make sure they are able to ward off cybercriminals – and have a plan of action ready should things go wrong.

 

 

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