Small businesses often rely on the use of sensitive online customer information. The loss of such data can be devastating to the organization’s credibility. Customers may choose to take their business elsewhere or no longer trust its services. Subsequently, there is a critical need to protect such sensitive information and manage cybersecurity internally.

Small businesses look to technology for cost savings, yet IT systems can often be hindered by human errors, poor transactional management, and an overall lack of organizational transparency. Cash flow is a concern when operating a small business, and affording proper in-house cybersecurity professionals is nearly impossible. Employees are forced to wear many hats, even when under qualified, stretching security efforts to their breaking points. Outsourcing cybersecurity assurance efforts may be the right choice when budgets are tight.

Assurance consultants will work closely to do the following on a macro level:

·      Safeguard systems and assets.

·      Ensure authorized users strictly access information.

·      Restrict and confirm the identities of users.

·      Guarantee confidentiality.

·      Track all online transactions and create records.

Assurance service providers specializing in cybersecurity will look for weaknesses through data and implement controls. They do this through:

·      Security audits

·      Network architecture (i.e., connected devices)

·      Compliance reporting

·      Database management

·      Policies and procedures

·      New hire training

Inefficiencies in the numbers will proactively point to internal and external concerns. An infinite number of problems can arise. They can range from an increased volume of phishing emails hitting employee in boxes to isolated instances of restricted customer accounts being accessed by internal employees. By training and reinforcing prudent behaviors, assurance professionals can be one of the most powerful protections against a cyberattack.


Today’s Online Assurance Environment


Guaranteeing a risk-free online customer experience is impossible.There is simply no such thing as a 100% secure IT system. Equipment can fail, humans are imperfect, and external forces can beat even the best-laid security measures, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t attempt to do your utmost to try and secure your customer data. A future lawsuit verdict could depend on it. Assurance services can be your ally in the fight. Assurance provides a level of confidence in an otherwise tense online world.

There is no “I” in Cyberattack

Cybersecurity is no longer isolated to IT professionals; risk and control activities now encompass finance, training, and accounting departments as well. Intangible controls like employee onboarding are also a crucial part of assurance services. Every person in the small business must be aware of their responsibilities when responding to a cyberattack from the onset of employment. Many attacks can stem from employee actions and mobile devices, often unknowingly. Separating company data from personal data has never been a higher priority.

Industries like retail, healthcare, and financial services often deal with high volumes of customer demographic information, including, but not limited to:

·      Names, email addresses, addresses, and phone numbers

·      Credit card numbers

·      Bank account numbers

·      Medical information

·      Social security numbers

·      Driver license numbers

Hackers target these businesses because of this sensitive information, yet the organizations take what they handle for granted and do not have proper cybersecurity safeguards. Assurance services can be the barricade against a costly and embarrassing data breach.

Assurance is now associated with a wide range of services, and as cybersecurity evolves, so does the role of accounting professionals within small businesses. Each organization is unique and requires customized solutions– there is no one-size-fits-all approach to protecting customers. Taylor &Willis understands this and will work tirelessly for your mission. Please do not hesitate to contact us today. You can count on Taylor and Willis CPAs and Advisors to get the job done right!