Why cybersecurity should mean everything to every tax pro

November 16, 2020

By Ariel Sandell, Accounting Today

Let’s say you are a business owner, CPA or EA. Your business has been prospering for many years. You’re sitting back in your chair, wrapping up your day’s work, and sending off one last email. You grin with satisfaction, knowing that soon you will be able to leave your office and spend some quality time with your family, pursue your favorite pastime, or simply relax. Your email suddenly doesn’t work. The tax return PDF you were looking at a minute ago and were ready to send won’t open. None of your files will open. Nothing works. Your entire business is dead in the water.

Your IT person says a ransomware attack hit you, and it’s too late to stop it. The hackers demand you pay an exorbitant fee and trust them to return everything to normal. They eventually start cashing in on your clients’ tax returns, one by one. You are forced to take out a pen and paper and a printed contact list, if you are fortunate to have one, and you start calling every single client. Feeling ill with shame, you tell them the terrible news and that they should report the theft of their Social Security Number and personal information to the Social Security Office, the IRS, their identity theft protection service, or whoever can help them now. You suffered a data breach and a ransomware cyberattack.

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