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5 SIMPLE WAYS TO PREVENT A DATA BREACH FROM PUTTING YOUR ACCOUNTANCY PRACTICE OUT OF BUSINESS

By Bruce Penson, Managing Director at Pro Drive IT

 

As an accountancy firm, you hold a huge amount of confidential and sensitive information. Personal details on clients, banking and social security information, confidential material about businesses and their staff: all of this data presents a massive problem.

Why? Because this information is highly valuable to cyber criminals. They know you hold it, they know who you are, and they will be trying to find ways into your IT systems to get access to it. Today’s cyber criminals are no longer hobbyists or ‘geeks’ sitting in a darkened room behind a computer. They are organised gangs with a considerable amount of knowledge and access to more sophisticated IT resources than a typical SME could ever hope to own.

This presents a real problem for accountancy firms — one for which many are inadequately prepared.

There is good news though. It is possible to make very real improvements to your defences and significantly reduce the risk of a breach without the need for complex technical solutions. In this eBook, we are going to cover five simple changes you can make at your accountancy practice to protect it from cyber criminals.

 

  1. Take control of your passwords 

With all the different websites and apps we use in both our personal and work lives, we have a lot of passwords to remember. Memorising all of them is an almost-impossible task. Yet with many breaches of firm’s IT systems coming as a result of staff reusing passwords or having easy-to-guess ones, it is an area that accountancy practices cannot afford to ignore.

The UK Government recommends using password managers to address this problem. A password manager stores your valuable passwords in a secure online vault to keep them out of the prying hands of cyber criminals. Our favourite is LastPass, which costs just £3 per user per month for the business version. As well as providing an area for your team to store their passwords, the business edition of LastPass also alerts you to staff storing insecure passwords or reusing them for other websites — ensuring you can maintain best password practice across your firm.

If you are not ready to commit to spending at this stage, LastPass also provides a free of charge service — you can follow our handy guide on how to set this up. There really is no excuse: make sure you setup your password manager today!

 

  1. Switch on two-factor authentication

As we have already discussed, the most common form of data breach comes from passwords being stolen. For web-based accounts and applications, this is a problem as once a cyber criminal has your password and email address, they will also have access to any accounts that use them.

Using automated software, they will quickly find these accounts — meaning they will have gained access before you are even aware you have a problem. At the moment, the most effective way to stop this is to enable two-step authentication. You most likely already use this on your online banking — where you might have to supply a randomly generated code in addition to your password. Most websites and web-based applications will have the option for two-step authentication at no additional cost. Where available, you should ensure this is activated and enforce it for your entire organisation.

This is absolutely essential if you use Microsoft Office 365 or Google Apps. For more information on two-step authentication, view these simple-to-follow guides from the popular two-step authentication app Authy.

 

  1. Use an ‘External Email Banner’ 

Time and time again, we’ve commented on the fact emails are the source of most cyber security breaches.

As such, it can be very useful to identify any emails you receive that are from outside of your business. If you can do this and you receive an email tagged as being from an ‘external sender’, but it appears to come from a colleague of yours, there is a good chance it is a fraudulent email. Adding a simple banner such as the one below is a very short job for your IT team and should cost you nothing — yet it could save you a fortune.

 

  1. Train Your Staff

It is a well-publicised fact that almost all cyber security breaches require some kind of human interaction to be successful. It is, therefore, somewhat puzzling that the majority of SME accountancy firms do not have a regular cyber security training program in place — especially when you consider that CPD courses and anti-bribery training are deemed so important. Part of the issue is that cyber security training is considered expensive, time consuming to deliver and not at all engaging to the people receiving it. But this is far from true. Some systems cost from as little as £2–3 per member of staff per month and deliver cyber security training in short, digestible blocks. These ‘short and snappy’ training sessions will not take up large amounts of your billable time but will still get the message across in an engaging way.

 

  1. Keep Your Team Aware

One of the challenges in any firm is keeping the threats from cyber security fresh in the minds of your team whilst they have their day jobs to focus on. Although training undoubtedly helps, often this is seen as a ‘point-in-time’ initiative in response to a breach or security incident occurring. Once the memory of this has faded, awareness amongst staff often does too.

The good news is that this is easy to address and even better, it should cost you no more than a little time to administer it. Here is our suggested approach: Nominate a member of staff to be your ‘cyber threat co-ordinator’. This should not necessarily be someone from IT. Ideally, it would be the person involved in running your office and organising staff communications: most likely your practice manager. Your co-ordinator should sign up to some email feeds on the latest threats — a good starting point is the government backed Action Fraud site and the security training service DynaRisk. Your co-ordinator should also review some online blogs such those from the Independent, which offers an easy-to-understand news feed on the latest cyber security threats. The information from these feeds should then be used to create content in staff newsletters, presented regularly in team meetings, posted to your intranet or circulated via email or an instant messaging feed.

Finance

WHAT’S NEXT? PAYMENT TRENDS IN 2021

Philip McHugh, CEO at Paysafe

 

Undoubtedly COVID-19 is going to continue having an impact on us all at least for the next few months and maybe all of this year, but there are still reasons to be optimistic. The industry continues to evolve quickly, and that in mind, here’s five of our predictions to watch out for in payments in 2021:

 

1. New consumers to online change the digital payments landscape

As more consumers headed online during the first wave of COVID-19, businesses noticed that their customers were also paying differently. Three quarters (76%) of the businesses we recently asked for our Lost in Transaction research report series said that consumers were using different payment methods during the pandemic, with the increased use of digital wallets being the most common. Having more customers that were new to eCommerce, and customers now shopping regularly with businesses that they were not comfortable sharing their financial details with, were key reasons for this.

Consumers confirmed this was true. When we asked in April, 18% of consumers told us they shopped online for the first time during the pandemic. With 38% of consumers telling us they are planning to shop online more even when COVID-19 is no longer a factor in their lives, we should see this shift to alternative payments continue.

 

2. SCA will drive mass adoption of biometric authentication 

Perhaps the first factor to shake up the payments industry in 2021 is going to have the greatest impact of any trend we will see in the coming year. That is because, after a series of extensions, the deadline for PSD2 Strong Customer Authentication is fast approaching. From December 31 2020 any transaction that isn’t verified by multi-factor authentication will be automatically declined.

One of the inevitable consequences of this is going to be a huge increase in the use of biometrics to verify payments. With the growth of mCommerce that we have seen before and during COVID-19, it seems very likely this will accelerate beyond predictions made at the initial SCA deadline in 2019. Juniper Research has already predicted that biometrics will be used for more than 18 billion transactions in 2021, with a value exceeding $210 billion in 2021.

 

3. A renewed focus on 5G

The importance of 5G and the growth of the IOT was another prediction we made for 2020. But while the impact of the pandemic has been to accelerate many of the trends we expected to see, perhaps one area where the pandemic has actually slowed adoption is the growth of 5G. With consumers spending so much time at home, appetite for personal 5G-enabled devices has been limited.

But at the same time, the need for the in-store shopping experience to be as frictionless as possible is now more important than ever. Almost half (46%) of businesses told us that they had lost sales in 2020 because their checkout times were too slow. So the use of 5G technology to overhaul the checkout will be back at the top of retailers’ agendas.

Almost half (47%) of stores told us that 5G will mean the end of the traditional checkout, and more than half (53%) believe that Amazon-Go style frictionless checkouts are the future of retail. Omnichannel experiences where consumers shop in a store and then pay via a digital checkout on a smartphone app are also on businesses’ radars.

 

4. A surge in subscription models

Almost one fifth (18%) of stores told us that they had launched a subscription services during the pandemic, and this is not only a result of business need but also customer demand. Overall, 27% of consumers told us that they were already planning to increase the number of subscriptions they had in the future, and this rose to 37% for consumers aged 18-34.

The growth will not be limited to digital either. Pret A Manger recently launched the first in-store coffee subscription service in the UK, and we expect to see similar models populating malls and independent stores soon.

Also, only the initial purchase of a subscription is subject to PSD2 multi-factor authentication. So for some businesses, launching a subscription service may be a way to reduce friction in the online checkout.

 

5. AI and machine learning as the cornerstone of fraud prevention

We’ve known about the importance of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to financial services for years, but in many cases the industry has been slow to implement the technology. With the sophistication of financial crime increasing, and the growing concerns of consumers of being a victim of fraud, it is no surprise that adoption is now accelerating rapidly.

Banks have currently spent as much as $217bn on AI applications already, and in 2021 AI and machine learning based systems will be the standard in fraud prevention.

 

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Top 10

THE TOP 5 CRYPTO EXCHANGES IN THE WORLD YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT

Introduction

Crypto Exchange is a very important part of the Cryptocurrency EcoSystem. Crypto exchanges are the platform where transactions take place. You can also purchase Bitcoins in crypto exchanges.

It is a marketplace in the digital sphere that allows traders to purchase and sell Bitcoins. Do note that fiat currencies and altcoins can also be used in crypto exchanges. Since you have clicked on the link to this blog, there is a high chance you are a Bitcoin investor, or you are someone who likes to keep a keen eye on the crypto space.

And why should you not? Given all the buzz that cryptos are making in the financial markets. Bitcoin is the most famous cryptos, so I will be talking only about bitcoins in this blog for the sake of convenience.

 

Crypto Exchanges 101

A Crypto Exchange’s primary objective is to act as a broker and bring a buyer and seller to one place. It is pretty much like a traditional stock exchange; the only difference is that everything related to crypto exchanges happens digitally.

However, the process is not that different. On Crypto exchanges, traders have the option to sell and buy Bitcoins after inputting a value or order. When a trader selects the market value, the crypto scans the best market value available for the Bitcoins and presents it to the trader. Visit daily profit to start investing.

In order for a trader to transact in bitcoin, he needs to get himself signed up with the exchange platform. And then go through the various amounts of verification procedures. Once the trader has successfully verified his identity. He can start trading. But before that, he needs to transfer his fiat currencies to Bitcoins, and only after that, he can buy Bitcoins.

The currency exchange methods vary from exchanges to exchanges. Some allow users to transfer it via wiring through the bank; some well-established exchanges allow a direct transfer from the bank. Some allow the use of credit and debit cards.

 

Features of a Crypto Exchange

Crypto Exchanges have a lot of features that will ease up your transaction process.

  • Crypto Exchanges are decentralized – Decentralised means it operates without any governing body. There are no intermediaries in between. It offers peer to peer trading without having to show an account of your spending to the regulatory body.
  • Low Processing Fees – As crypto exchanges are decentralized, it is a peer to peer connection.

 

The Top 5 Crypto Exchanges In The World You Should Know About

There are more than a thousand crypto exchanges; trying them out one by one will take a lifetime. So as a crypto investor, I have personally selected the top five most popular crypto exchanges that you ought to know about.

1.    Gemini

The most widely used Crypto exchange on the face of the Earth is Gemini. It is perfect for all the major cryptocurrencies, but when it comes to Bitcoins. The only little drawback that I find in Gemini is that it asks for way too much personal information.

2.    Etoro

Etoro is more of a financial trading service than an actual crypto exchange, but it is worth talking about nonetheless. Crypto investors hold this app in high regard; it has a very good reputation. It has very high processing fees, which may annoy some traders.

3.    Kraken

When it comes to security, none can match Kraken. Apart from that, it has a very big user base. And it also charges very low transaction fees. A handful of traders do not like Kraken as it does not offer the best customer support services.

4.    Binance

Unless you had been living a rock, you must know Binance. Binance is the go-to crypto exchange. You get to see the ads of the Binance app over the Internet a lot. Binance gives you the added advantage of trading huge amounts of cryptos in a single time. Binance is only meant for experienced traders. It is not recommended for newbies.

5.    Coinmama 

Coinmama offers very strong security. The UI is user friendly. The best part is the customer support. I personally like Binance the most because it takes a step further and makes sure that proper security measures are implemented and add to that its classy user interface.

Many traders may not like Coinmama as the significant-high processing fees.

 

Final Words

There you go, there was the list of top 5 crypto exchanges. Please invest your money at your own risk. You should have a very strong knowledge of the crypto market before investing. Otherwise, you may face huge losses.

 

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