Accounting Cybersecurity: Problems and their Solutions | 2023

Accounting Cybersecurity

By Bharati Kakadiya

Cyber-attacks are at large. Last year (2022) CPR released new data on the cyberattack trends and discovered a 38% increase, compared to 2021. Such attacks have affected almost all industries, and accounting departments are no exception to these attacks. Accounting is a vital function of any organization, and a cyberattack on the accounting department could lead to serious repercussions.

Although there are Cyber Security systems and organizations placed, hackers and cyber criminals have managed to find loopholes and lee ways to break into organizations and steal crucial data. What do they do with it you ask? Well, the data they steal does not mean anything to them, but what they can do with it is dangerous. They use that data as leverage and blackmail you and force you into wiring millions or even billions to their accounts. Leverage is all that they want.

Most accounting firms have testified to not even realizing that they have been hacked. That’s how efficient hackers and cyber criminals have become. Hackers have a repertoire of types of attacks that are all different in nature and functionality. Stick around till the end to know all the types of cyberattacks on accounting departments.

  1. Phishing Attacks
  2. Malware Attacks
  3. Man-in-the Middle (MitM) Attacks
  4. Denial-of-Service (DoS) Attacks
  5. Social Engineering Attacks

Phishing Attacks

One of the most prevalent forms of cyberattacks on accounting is phishing. The reason behind its fame is because it appears legitimate. The cybercriminal sends an email that appears to be from a government agency, or a bank, or your colleague. The email may request login information, the click of a link, or the downloading of a file from the receiver. If the recipient falls for the scam, the hacker can gain access to the system and will be able to transfer files in and out of the system with complete control.

Here’s an example of a phishing attack which almost costed the firm $400,000.

A hacker slipped into an accountant’s email account through a phishing attack. The victim was specifically targeted, given his authority to transfer money. The hacker monitored the accountant’s email for several weeks. And one fine day, he discovered an opportunity to mislead the accountant into paying the money to the wrong account.

The hacker went to the extent to purchase a domain that was like the client’s domain, and exactly cloned the client’s email thread. And responded to the email thread with confirmation and sharing different bank account credentials. The accountant bought it and wired the amount.

Long story short, the hacker was caught due to greed. But the authorities and the bank could only recover $ 320,000.

Tips to avoid Phishing Attacks

There is no perfect solution for phishing attacks. As hackers are coming up with sophisticated ways to attack their targets. However, there are certain preventive measures that you can take to avoid falling for phishing attacks.

  1. Awareness: Educate yourself and your employees to identify and avoid You can go through case studies and testimonies of phishing victims to avoid their mistakes. Teach them to look for suspicious emails, links and attachments. They should never share sensitive information via email or other electronic mails.
  2. Multi Factor Authentication: Implement Multi Factor Authentication (MFA) on all your online accounts as this adds an extra layer of security. So, before you gain access to your account, you will receive a code on your phone or mail.
  3. Software Up to date: Keep all your accounting software up to date with latest security patches. This will help prevent hackers from exploiting vulnerabilities in outdates software. 
  4. Anti-Phishing Software: Anti-Phishing software has spam filters that can identify spamming patterns and keywords and is able to detect phishing mails. 

Malware Attacks

Many accountants and bookkeepers access countless software and tools that’s a great help to them, as it reduces manual labour and maximizes efficiency. And that’s true, there are millions of good software out there. But there is also malicious software which are designed and programmed to gain unauthorized access to your system. Malware can take many forms, such as viruses, trojans, ransomware. And the only thing you must do to activate these malware attacks is to download it. That’s it. If you’re system is connected to a network of other computers in the organization, then you’re entire accounting department can be breached within minutes.

1. Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts the victim’s data and demands payment in exchange for the decryption key. In accounting departments, a ransomware attack can lead to the loss of critical financial data, disrupting operations, and causing financial losses. For example, in 2017, the WannaCry ransomware attack targeted organizations worldwide, including accounting departments, resulting in massive financial losses.

2. Banking Trojans

Banking trojans are a type of malware that targets financial systems and steals sensitive financial information, such as login credentials, credit card information, and banking details. In accounting departments, a banking trojan can lead to the theft of financial data, compromising the integrity of financial statements and causing financial losses. For example, in 2019, the Emotet banking trojan infected many organizations, including accounting departments, leading to financial losses.

3. Keyloggers

Keyloggers are a type of malware that record keystrokes on a victim’s device, allowing the attacker to steal sensitive information such as passwords and login In accounting departments, a keylogger can lead to the theft of sensitive financial data, leading to fraudulent activities and financial losses. For example, in 2020, the Agent Tesla keylogger targeted accounting departments worldwide, leading to the theft of sensitive financial data.

4. Remote Access Trojans (RATs)

Remote Access Trojans are a type of malware that allows attackers to gain unauthorized access to a victim’s device, enabling them to steal sensitive information, such as financial In accounting departments, a RAT can lead to unauthorized access to financial systems, allowing the attacker to steal sensitive financial data and compromise the integrity of financial statements. For example, in 2021, the Flubot RAT targeted accounting departments, leading to financial losses and theft of sensitive financial data.

Tips to avoid Malware Attacks

  1. Anti-Malware Software: Use a reputed anti-malware software that is updated regularly to scan for any malware in your system. 
  2. Email Attachments: Be very cautious with email attachments. It’s a widely used trick to gain access to your computer. You can scan attachments before downloading them through anti malware software.
  3. Use Strong Passwords: Use strong and unique passwords for your online You should never have the same password for multiple accounts. Enable two factor authentications in all of them.
  4. Use a Firewall: Invest in a Firewall which will keep unwanted and unauthorized access to your computer or network.

Man-in-the Middle (MitM) Attacks

MitM attacks occur when there is a cybercriminal who has intercepted the conversation going on between an accountant and a client. There is sensitive and critical client data on that targeted email account. Once the cybercriminal has complete access to the email account, they just must intercept an ongoing conversation and enter in their own bank credentials. There’s no way for an accountant to even know that he/she is being monitored when they are under a MitM attack. Cybercriminal can download crucial and sensitive attachments on their systems and can threaten you with them.

Tips to avoid MitM Attacks

  1. Use HTTPS: Make sure that the website that you are visiting is using HTTPS, which encrypts the data transmitted between your device and the webiste.
  2. Use VPN: When connecting to a public Wi-Fi or an unknown Wi-fi, use As VPN will encrypt your internet traffic.
  3. Use Strong Passwords: Use strong and unique passwords for your online You should never have the same password for multiple accounts. Enable two factor authentications in all of them.
  4. Use a Firewall: Invest in a Firewall which will keep unwanted and unauthorized access to your computer or network.

In case of Cyberattack, never do this. (lol)

In case of Cyberattack, never do this

Denial-of-Service (DoS) Attacks

DoS attacks are designed to overload your server with countless requests. This will make your server unavailable to its users. DoS attacks are designed and used when the hacker wants to damage the organization that they are targeting. It’s designed to disrupt the accounting department and put a stop to accounting operations. These DoS attacks are used as leverage for ransom from organizations. Demands for a huge amount of money are made minutes after DoS attacks hit the organization’s servers.

Tips to avoid DoS Attacks

  1. DDoS Protection Service: DDoS Protection Service detects attacks and mitigates it before it affects your network.
  2. Use Load Balancing: Load Balancing simply means that the traffic on your server will be distributed across multiple servers. So that if at all there is a DDoS attack, your server will not be overwhelmed by it. 
  3. Monitor Traffic: Make sure your team monitors the traffic visiting your website, regular monitoring helps in detecting spammy or bot traffic to your website.
  4. Limit Login Attempts: Limiting login attempts will help prevent spam traffic trying to login to your website.

Social Engineering Attacks

Social Engineering tasks are designed to manipulate the victims into giving away sensitive information. These attacks can take various forms, such as.

  1. Pretexting
  2. Baiting
  3. Quid Pro Quo

Pretexting involves pretending to be someone else, such as bank employee, to gain access to sensitive information.

Baiting involves enticing people with promises of rewards and gifts to gain access to their information.

Quid Pro Quo involves the attacker offering a service or reward in exchange for the victim’s sensitive information.

Tips to avoid Social Engineering Attacks

  1. Don’t Share Personal Info: Be cautious about sharing your personal information with strangers. 
  2. Verify Identity: Verify the identity of the person who has approached Do not trust blindly. Always verify first.
  3. Be wary of unsolicited emails or calls: You might receive emails or calls from people claiming to be from the government. Don’t fall for that. Legit organizations will not ask you for your personal information over email or call. 
  4. Secure your passwords: Keep your passwords secure and change them Keep track of all your passwords.


Cyberattacks can have severe consequences to your organization. Accounting departments possess bank credentials and crucial data that if breached can destroy your company’s reputation. It is very important to be aware of all the types of cyberattacks that are executed by cybercriminals, and then take measures to prevent them. Keeping the above-mentioned points in mind, CapActix has invested in an elite infrastructure that keeps the cyber-attacks from breaching our networks. Our outsourced accounting and tax preparation clients have never experienced a data breach while working with us.

About the Author

Bharati Kakadiya (COO & Co-Founder) of CapActix Business Solutions and member of Chartered Accountants of India and prominently owns degree of Masters in Commerce. CapActix is an ISO & GDPR certified company outsourcing exclusive solutions for Accounting & Finance for a diverse range of industries. She leads CapActix’s outsourcing operations, and is responsible for quality assurance and on-time delivery of services. She has 8+ years of proven experience in Accounting industry.

Disclaimer: This article contains sponsored marketing content. It is intended for promotional purposes and should not be considered as an endorsement or recommendation by our website. Readers are encouraged to conduct their own research and exercise their own judgment before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article.


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