In South Africa, 75% of CEOs stated that the increasing complexity of cyber threats is shaping their businesses. This is according to the PwC 23rd Annual CEO Survey 2020 which also highlights the growing public concern over data privacy and vulnerabilities in supply chains and business partners. However, with many businesses working from home to stop the spread of COVID-19, these results may increase.
Louis Aucamp, Managing Director at Equality Group and Intuit QuickBooks trainer, says that it is for these reasons that businesses are adopting technological security solutions. “As we are well into the Fourth Industrial Revolution and many companies are run using the internet, online security has become a priority, much like the steps every business needs to take to protect physical assets such as buildings and documents.”
“When it comes to local small and medium enterprise (SME) owners, they should note that cloud is shifting the paradigm for growing businesses and that it is something they should consider implementing to remain competitive,” Aucamp adds.
Reputable cloud accounting software is a surefire way for businesses to ensure that their data is protected because global security standards are built in as a standard feature, he says. “For example, cloud-based accounting software uses encryption to send and store data. This means that the information stored is rewritten into a secret unbreakable code. This is the same type of security used to make online banking safe.”
Businesses also need to protect themselves from the inside, he says. With cloud accounting software, it gives business owners the option of creating varying levels of access to their data. This is not unlike only giving certain staff members keys to the payroll cabinet in years gone by. This is very important because you may want a contractor to log hours but not access your books or invoicing.”
Automation has freed very important work hours for small business owners, many of whom perform many tasks in their businesses. “An entrepreneur who is running a company, managing staff and chasing new business needs as much help as possible,” says Aucamp. “When you use reputable software, you have peace of mind that the service provider has done everything possible to assist businesses in securing their data.”
Aucamp says he teaches businesses to look out for password-protected login, multi-factor authentication, firewall-protected servers and encryption of data, all of which are present in cloud-based software.
He says there are also general precautions business owners can take to ensure that their house is in order from an internet perspective. These include:
- Invest in an antivirus: Organisations need to have a trusted antivirus software package and make sure it’s up to date.
- Install browser protection: Put procedures in place to prevent staff from accessing unauthorised or dodgy sites. This is most often where these hackers gain access to your computers.
- Email filters: Set up strong junk mail filters on your emails, and teach and remind staff not to open emails from unknown or suspicious sources.
- Make regular, different backups: Don’t back-up over your last back-up. Have multiple back-ups. Cloud accounting software automatically backs up data, taking that burden away from businesses.
- Follow up on notifications of data changes or logins: It may be just an SMS, but make sure it’s valid.
It is prudent to make online security a business priority, along with other important business considerations. The good news, says Aucamp, is that once accounting and other software is secure in the cloud, with a strong service provider such as Intuit QuickBooks, business owners can have peace of mind that the security of their data is in good hands.