Security

Fundamentals of Secure Collaboration For Accountants

Why your firm can work safely in the cloud

Cloud-based collaboration tools are opening doors for accounting firms. The cloud provides anywhere, anytime access to key apps, data, files and services. And from the cloud, you can interact with your clients whether you’re at your desk, out at lunch, or traveling for work. This convenience lets you manage everything from email to file sharing to feedback and approvals on any device whenever you need it.

Many firms are already experiencing these benefits:1

72%
agree cloud-based tools save them time.

77%
of accounting professionals surveyed believe cloud-based tools allow them to be more responsive.

66%
agree that the cloud reduces costs.

But even with all these benefits, all clouds are notcreated equal. To truly harness the power of the cloud, you must address the issue of security. Ultimately, secure collaboration in the cloud boils down to three key issues:

  • Knowing what to expect from solutions.
  • Understanding what you can do to protect data.
  • Ensuring visibility into assets in the cloud.

Cloud services and security

There are plenty of options to consider when it comes to cloud collaboration services, and knowing what to look for can make the difference between getting a secure solution and ending up with a tool that puts your data at risk.

The breadth of technologies and tools at your disposal can make deciding on a service mind boggling – especially when it comes to choosing a solution you’re willing to trust with your clients’ data. And while no solution is perfect, there are fundamental security features you should expect to find in the service you choose.

End-to-end encryption

Data is encoded in storage and when it leaves a device. Then it’s decoded when somebody with authorization attempts to view it. Even though codes theoretically can be cracked, the reality is that modern encryption codes are so sophisticated that it would take decades - if not centuries - to solve them.

Cloud collaboration services that use encryption can play a huge role in keeping data safe, and the Ponemon Institute found that 56 percent organizations are already encrypting cloud data.

Secure sync and share

Hackers and malware are a real external threat, but employees can actually be the ones most responsible for introducing risk when it comes to data security. In fact, one study found that 79 percent of IT pros say that people – not technology – can pose the greatest security gaps.3 Accidentally sharing or deleting information can lead to data breaches, but secure cloud collaboration services that automatically sync your data ensure that nothing gets lost or stolen.

Compliance support

Accounting firms know better than to cross the IRS. Your clients’ data, and the tools you use to handle it, are heavily regulated, but that doesn’t mean complying with regulation needs to get in the way of your productivity. You need to be able to trust that your cloud service provider will fully comply with IRS and other regulations and recommendations. If your cloud tools are compliant, however, it can be a significant load off your mind, allowing you to focus on your work while your software handles the rest.

Passwords and user-authentication
Cloud services have evolved to give you more options than ever when it comes to protecting personal credentials and confidential data. In fact, Capgemini found that 84 percent of businesses are offering multiple login options to go beyond passwords.⁴

With multi-factor authentication you can add layers to how you safeguard data with two-step verification methods, such as form and token-based authentication as well as SMS, voice and backup codes for account entry.

Activity tracking

Collaboration means putting secure, sensitive data in the hands of your clients and co-workers. Control is critical here and being able to track documents and files is essential. Approximately 36 percent of respondents to a Bitglass survey said that having users share files and data for use on unauthorized devices was a primary concern. What’s more, 20 percent said giving access to unauthorized users was a major concern.⁵ When it comes time to collaborate in the cloud, you need clear visibility into where your files are going, who can access them and when they interact with that data. Poor transparency can put you at risk, but high visibility lets you track your data and avoid security gaps.

Collaborating with confidence

With cloud collaboration services constantly enhancing security, the cloud is quickly becoming one of the most secure and simple ways to get work done – from any device, anywhere, and at any time. Choosing providers with secure collaboration apps is a great start, and from there, you’re free to focus on issues you can control.

Learn more

Advanced collaboration solutions, such as Citrix ShareFile, provide the protection your business needs while giving you customizable security settings to keep your data safe.

Notes
1. https://downloads.cloudsecurityalliance.org/initiatives/surveys/financial-services/Cloud_Adoption_In_The_Financial_Services_Sector_Survey_March2015_FINAL.pdf
2. http://www.cloudsecurityresource.com/news/2016/02/29/8324154.htm
3. https://digitalguardian.com/blog/insider-outsider-data-security-threats
4. https://www.capgemini.com/identity-access-management-survey
5. http://www.bitglass.com/press-releases/report-cloud-just-as-secure-as-premises-apps

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