Is IT Safe?

5 common security pitfalls and what your firm can do to protect itself.

While there are ever-increasing threats to a firm's IT security, technology consultant Dave Cieslak, principal and co-founder of Simi Valley, Calif.-based Arxis Technology, advises that firms pay attention to these five common pitfalls, and offers tips to abate the risks.

1. Mobile assets 1. Mobile assets

Threat: With the explosive proliferation of small devices (such as tablets, cell phones, ultrabooks, etc.) as well as laptops, loss, theft and improper disposal are quickly becoming some of the most significant threats to overall IT security and data leakage/loss.

Response: Reasonable steps to reduce this increasing risk include setting up passwords for all devices, encrypting data on the devices themselves, installing tracking and/or remote-wipe software in the event devices are misplaced, and end-user training.

2. Cloud security 2. Cloud security

Threat: Since data and applications will now be residing somewhere other than the "safe and secure" corporate computer room, security concerns are increasingly taking center stage.

Response: Organizations need to consider both internal factors (any requirements or laws preventing certain data from being migrated to the cloud), as well as external factors, such as where the data will be stored, who will have access, what controls the vendor has in place, will the data be replicated, can an organization make their own off-line backups, are intrusion detection mechanisms in place, and is the vendor SAS 70-certified -- to name just a few.

3. Social media 3. Social media

Threat: Users, it seems, are comfortable sharing virtually everything these days via online social media Web sites. But this "personal" information can, and will, be used against them. Cybercriminals are incorporating unique user information into targeted phishing scams.

Response: Users need to be on a keen lookout for these targeted attacks and be more wary than ever regarding what they click on.

4. Infected Web links 4. Infected Web links

Threat: More and more cybercriminals are using infected links as a means of inducing users to install malware on their machines.

Response: End users need to be vigilant about what they click on and make sure they have an up-to-date antivirus solution in place.

5. Backups 5. Backups

Threat: The loss of data -- through natural disasters, fires, equipment failures, and even theft -- can mean the collapse of a firm or its clients.

Response: Critical data, applications and services need to be identified and a backup solution implemented to ensure that the e-lifeblood of an organization is not placed in significant peril. Organizations should definitely consider using one of the many cloud-based backup services to complement, or even as the foundation of, their backup strategy.

The 2015 MP Elite

The fourth edition of our annual report highlights eight outstanding accounting firm leaders.

View the slideshow >>

Tax Extenders You Can Count On

Provisions that are likely to be passed – however late

View the slideshow >>

A Back-to-School Tax Break Refresher

A slideshow of education-related tax opportunities

View the slideshow >>

6 Strategies for a Stellar Site

Tips for improving your “online reception area”

View the slideshow >>

The Top People in Public Accounting – 2015

The most influential people in the field of accounting, as chosen by their peers

View the slideshow >>

Top Tax Issues for 2016

11 things you and your clients will want to start thinking about for next tax season

View the slideshow >>

10 Great Trends for CPAs

MACPA members predict future growth areas

View the slideshow >>

Tax Alpha: The Divorce Checklist

9 steps to take before and after a divorce, from the experts at HD Vest

View the slideshow >>

IRS Summertime Tax Tips

The Internal Revenue Service regularly provides tax tips via email to provide timely reminders to taxpayers and preparers about tax breaks and requirements year-round, and its advice can be particularly helpful this summer.

View the slideshow >>

Tax Season by the Numbers

Returns stats, ACA results and more from the 2015 filing season

View the slideshow >>