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Preparing for a cyber hack can make or break your business

Posted on Saturday, December 3, 2016 by Gary Hunt

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA content manager

Worrying about cybersecurity hacks might seem like an issue reserved for the IT department, but it can quickly become a problem for accountants when considering the effect a hack can have on a business’s reputation.

Jason Guyler, business development partner of CyberRisk Management, wants to alert CPAs to the dangers of cyber hacks, not only for the safety of their information but for the future of their business.

Jason Guyler“I want to put a healthy fear in them, and I also want them to want to take action,” he said. “Whether they take that action of their own or bring in a professional on cyber risk management, I really want to see them take action and protect that information.”

Guyler’s Dec. 7 webinar “What is Your Cyber Risk Profile: How to Prepare for Cyber Attacks,” will cover the state of cybersecurity, cyber risk profiles and risks, compliance and safeguards companies can put in place to better protect themselves.

One of the easiest things accountants can do to protect their information is create stronger passwords, Guyler said. Adding uppercase letters and numbers can make a big difference in how easy it is to hack information.

“If you have a six character password with only lower case alphabetic letters, it takes a program about four and a half minutes to crack that and be in your system,” he said. “If you change that to eight characters, and go alpha numeric and include uppercase, it goes to more than 20 years.”

Considering 60% of small and medium-sized businesses that are hacked go out of business after six months, this cybersecurity knowledge could quite literally make or break a business. But unfortunately, Guyler said many CPAs undervalue the information they have, and as a result don’t go to the appropriate lengths to protect it until it’s too late.

Another topic Guyler plans to cover will be the regulations the industries face, such as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. He also will discuss best practices accountants can look to for guidance when implementing better cybersecurity.

“There are a lot of hackers and they’re very opportunistic, so they’re looking for the companies out there who don’t have any security in place at all and those are the ones they’re taking advantage of,” he said. “You can never say that you can’t make a hack happen again, but you can make it a lot more difficult.”

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