The cloud was once a mysterious product only embraced and implemented by the most forward-thinking CPA firms. Today, most CPA organizations are aware of the cloud and how migrating a legacy IT ecosystem over to it can deliver tremendous benefits across a wide array of areas.
The cloud is no longer mysterious and futuristic; it’s best practice. While cloud awareness and adoption has soared, misconceptions and fear still hover over the cloud when it comes to cybersecurity effectiveness.
According to a 2016 Cloudpassage survey, security concerns top the list of barriers to cloud adoption cited by survey participants.
Well, it’s time to debunk the idea that the cloud is less secure and more vulnerable to cybersecurity threats than legacy IT systems or other options. Put simply, the cloud and an experienced cloud partner are a CPA firm’s best defense against an ever-evolving cybersecurity threat matrix.
There are three main reasons that moving to the cloud will make your CPA organization more secure.
1. Cloud providers have been investing in stronger security.
Cloud providers continue to invest heavily in stronger security measures, allocating, in some cases, up to 75 percent of their research and development budgets into this area, according to InfoWorld. While this focus and investment can’t guarantee absolute security (nothing really can), cloud providers realize that security concerns are a big obstacle to broader cloud adoption and have made significant strides to improve cloud security capabilities.
Focusing investment and brainpower on improving security means a safer, more secure cloud. Security is strong now and will only get better with increased attention and investment on the part of cloud providers.
2. Cloud-enabled artificial intelligence (AI) automates and improves security monitoring.
The bottom line is that human monitoring of any given legacy IT network is doomed to failure; the global reach, nonstop change and increasing speed of the cybersecurity threat matrix is far too much for any one IT person, or even a sizable team, to handle. The fact is, IT teams cannot handle the vast and ever-changing threats their networks face.
Cloud-enabled AI Network Scanning, which is always on, reduces vulnerabilities and increases attack response times by allowing your IT team to focus on response rather than everything all at once, including detection. In that way, AI enhances your cybersecurity program both in detection and response.
AI-driven, cloud-enabled email monitoring for phishing emails is consistently more effective than other methods. Having automated, AI-led email monitoring is really the only effective approach to mitigating the biggest cybersecurity risk of all: an employee willing to open an email and click on a button that opens Pandora’s box. What’s more, AI eliminates the lag inherent in most antivirus software programs, which are always attempting to catch up to the latest threats because of required signature updates.
The cloud, when combined with AI security features, is far more secure than relying on a single IT lead or a small team attempting to deal with every day “break and fix” while trying to stay on top of updates, patches and the latest threats to your CPA firm’s data. Constant network and email scanning and more immediate threat identification are critical to combating modern cybersecurity threats.
3. The cloud offers redundancy and controlled access.
The cloud provides stronger security by creating data redundancies and restricting access to your CPA firm’s data. Redundancy removes the threat of natural disasters destroying your onsite hardware and storage; with the cloud, your data is available to you and your team from anywhere at any time, and is stored and backed up at an offsite location or locations with high levels of security and protection against threats. At Cetrom, we house our client’s data in highly secure, geographically dispersed data centers, ensuring that their data is redundant and safe.
What’s more, the cloud reduces access to your data by removing it from your office or offices and streamlining security measures around who has rights to access certain data. Cloud IT systems empower IT teams to monitor access logs, remove access by changing user rights immediately and easily add new users as needed. Human error is a major cause of cybersecurity and data-breach events; being able to monitor and react to potential risks via increased access controls is a major boon to a CPA firm’s security capabilities.
The cloud coupled with an expert cloud service provider is more secure.
Moving to the cloud will improve your CPA firm’s security capabilities, for certain. Maximizing the cloud’s security impact also requires identifying and partnering with the right cloud service provider who understands your business and can customize the cloud to your needs. Network monitoring 24/7/365 by experienced IT experts, disaster response planning and assistance, security training for employees and even holding data-breach drills are the hallmarks of a strong cloud services partner.
In a recent CloudTech blog, the relationship between hackers and the cloud was captured in an apt analogy: “This new approach to security will not just level the playing field between the attacker and security teams, it will shift the balance in the opposite direction and provide security with an advantage. Cyberattacks rely on stealth and surprise to disrupt, destroy and steal — the tools of a spy. Predictive security in the cloud works like a counterintelligence agency that hunts the spies before they attack. This innovative approach is the next generation of security.”
Finding the right cloud service provider for your CPA firm requires internal awareness and serious, focused due diligence. The best cloud providers go beyond technology to deliver agile, customized cloud solutions that are directed by skilled IT veterans who understand your needs, industry, culture and team, becoming your CPA firm’s best defense against the “spies” trying to infiltrate and steal your most sensitive information.