The Rise of Access Brokers – What It Means for Accountants

Initial access brokers are a new breed of cybercriminals who are seeking to take advantage of accounting firms. News outlets around the world are warning of a new age of cybercrime 

In the last year alone, advertisements from access brokers trying to sell your information to other cybercriminals have risen by over 147%. Their core targets are businesses in both Australia and the United States.  

What is an access broker?  

An access broker is what we sometimes visualize as the typical hacker. They are the ones who complete the initial attack on your IT systems, but instead of getting money from you themselves, they sell your data and information to other criminals.  

These criminals who then buy your data and information (or even access directly into your systems) are much less technical and are focused on getting a payday be it stealing payment data, identities of clients or ransomware attacks. The access broker model amplifies the scale and sophistication of attacks now occurring on hardworking business. It’s even been known for these access brokers to provide technical support for criminals trying to get money out of you.  

Why Accountants Should Be Wary of Access Brokers  

For accountants, the stakes are exceptionally high. Financial data, personal information of clients, and access to sensitive applications make accounting firms a goldmine for these brokers.  

What’s worse, the consequences of a breach can be devastating, including financial loss, reputational damage, and legal ramifications due to non-compliance with data protection regulations. 

It is also much more common for accounting professionals to be working in the cloud and access brokers know this and are specifically trying to attack unsecured Microsoft 365, Google Suite and other Single Sign On (SSO) apps. You may be thinking this is not a major issue, but when they have access to this information, they can cloak themselves and act as if they are you. They can access all your applications because you have not kept your login information safe.  

With one Georgia accounting firm losing $450,000 in a single cyber-attack, accountants can never be too careful when it comes to their cybersecurity.  

5 Ways Practice Protect Shields Accounting Firms from Access Brokers 

  1. Tailored Cybersecurity Solutions Practice Protect specifically caters to the needs of accounting firms. It understands the unique vulnerabilities of financial practices and provides targeted security measures to shield data from initial access brokers and other cyber threats. By focusing exclusively on accountants, Practice Protect ensures that its defenses are always aligned with the latest security trends in the financial sector.
  2. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) One of the foundational features of Practice Protect is its robust multi-factor authentication system. MFA adds an additional layer of security by requiring multiple forms of verification before access is granted. This could include something you know (a password), something you have (a smartphone app to approve login attempts), or something you are (biometric verification). MFA significantly mitigates the risk of unauthorized access, even if login details are compromised.
  3. Continuous Monitoring and Alerts Real-time monitoring is another included offer of Practice Protect. The Platform can continuously scan for suspicious activities within the network, such as unusual login attempts or patterns of behavior which deviate from the norm. By identifying and addressing these red flags early, Practice Protect can prevent potential breaches before the access broker gets through the door. 
  4. Education and Training Practice Protect also emphasizes the importance of educating accounting teams about cybersecurity. On-demand training sessions ensure all employees are aware of the latest phishing scams, social engineering tactics, and other fraudulent activities. Knowledge is power, and in the realm of cybersecurity, an informed team is a secure team.
  5. Compliance and Data Protection Finally, Practice Protect helps accounting firms comply with industry regulations and standards, such as GDPR in Europe or HIPAA in the United States. Compliance is not just about avoiding fines; it’s about adopting a framework which inherently protects data through best practices and stringent security measures.

It’s Critical to Act Now 

The emergence of initial access brokers marks a significant shift in the cyber threat landscape. For accountants, ignoring this warning could not only result in financial damage, but also destroy the trust you built with your clients. Implementing a solution like Practice Protect isn’t just an investment in security; it’s a fundamental need for your business.  

As cyber threats evolve, so should your defenses. Practice Protect offers the expertise, tools, and peace of mind needed to safeguard your practice’s most valuable assets. Don’t wait for a breach to realize the importance of robust cybersecurity. 

If you have any questions or need further information on implementing Practice Protect in your firm chat with one of our Cyber Security Consultants