Adviser - Winter 2018

A s the world becomes increasingly digital, we are storing more and more personal data online. In business, the growing use of cloud accounting solutions has seen a high volume of corporate data hosted by software providers, interconnecting and spreading the data across various systems and multiplying it over many locations. There are many positives for businesses utilising these powerful cloud resources, but as the data is no longer in the control of the business owner there are understandable concerns about how it is being handled. 1. System security There are many different cloud accounting platforms, and the market leaders use high level encryption protocols, similar to those used by banks, with multiple firewalls, so if one section is hacked the data is useless without the other. In-built alerts identify when a non-human user (such as a bot) has gained access and shut them out. They will also restrict access to your data from their own staff, only allowing access when you authorise it. The benefits of using cloud based software can often be that the security protocols which these big software houses offer are often far higher than anything a small business could afford. 2. Storage and backup Put simply, using the cloud means that any information uploaded or stored is replicated automatically, in multiple locations. This means that if any one location goes down, the data is fully recoverable and the system operates as normal. It also means you can access your data from anywhere with an internet connection so that you can operate more effectively and, should you need it, can provide a valuable recovery system for free. 3. Passwords and 2-step authentication The greatest threat to any online system is almost always the users themselves. Most of us admit to using the same password across multiple websites. Hackers aim to steal emails, names and passwords, which they then publish on the dark web. This means that any replicated password will be tied to your name, and allows a hacker to access any programme that you use this password with.

One solution is to use a password manager. There are free ones available which allow you to create a random complicated password, making the password difficult to hack, and you should encourage every user who has access to your system to manage their passwords. Some of the paid password generators will allow your IT department to manage the passwords, enabling security to be managed centrally. An additional security measure, often used by banks is two step authentication, which requires you to go through a second security procedure to access the data, this is often done by issuing a code sent by text message. This is a very strong system as it means anyone trying to hack the system would also need to have access to the user’s phone, which is very unlikely. 4. User control The fact that both you and your adviser can access your accounts ad records online, and at the same time makes working with them easier and more effective as they can see your finances in ‘real time’ and so can work on accurate data. However, it is important that you know and trust who has access to your data, to manage this, only work with advisers who have suitably robust internal controls and procedures. 5. Apps Cloud based accounting packages are becoming increasingly interconnected with a wide range of specialist apps. In simple terms you can ‘bolt-on’ applications which provides you with specialist software and which can ‘talk’ to your cloud based accounting package. These apps allow you to tailor your cloud package to your specific sector or industry, but are often supplied by a wide range independent providers. Before you sign up to each app you should ensure that you have reviewed it for its related risk level, and if you are signing up to an app as part of a cloud accounting package, you should ask your adviser if they have reviewed the security. Cloud software can provide many benefits for business, but ensuring that you use the best software and the right security measures is paramount to protecting you and your customers’ data and complying with the General Data Protection Regulations which came into force earlier this year. At sblive we review the security of our software partners and adopt internal policies and procedures to maximise the security of our clients’ data.

To find out more about cloud accounting and business support packages, you can contact Ryan on 0330 058 6559 or email sblive@scruttonbland.co.uk

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