Cloud Solutions for Accountants: Staying Secure & Saving Money In the Cloud
What every CPA should know about making the move to the Cloud
Cloud computing continues to dominate the business environment. It seems like every other day we have a client asking about how the Cloud can help them optimize business. The Cloud is an amazing resource for businesses in any industry – it helps professionals stay productive, competitive, and profitable in the modern business environment.
However, many professionals in the financial services sector are weary about making the move. In today’s hostile cybercrime environment, finance professionals – who process huge amounts of sensitive financial data – are often worried this data will be less secure when stored in the Cloud. Simply put, finance professionals – who also need to adhere to industry standards – want assurance that the Cloud will help them remain compliant and secure.
We recently heard from a financial services organization who was ready to make the move, and it got us thinking. There are countless myths about security in Cloud, so we’re out to set the record straight. Accounting professionals should be embracing the Cloud – not running from it. Read on to ease your fears about Cloud security so your accounting firm reap ALL the benefits of Cloud migration – especially cost-reduction.
Getting to The Bottom of Cloud Compliance and Security Concerns
In this guide, we’re hoping to reassure accounting professionals that Cloud computing and virtualization isn’t as scary and vulnerable as its made out to be. The reality is, the Cloud is a dynamic and strategic computing environment that is well suited to protect confidential data and uphold industry compliance – so long as the right safeguards are implemented properly.
So, let’s break down the top myths about data security & industry compliance in the Cloud:
- Cloud Myth #1 – On-Premise Data Servers are More Secure than the Cloud
This is probably the most persistent myth about Cloud computing – and it’s the one that keeps many accounting firms tied to their physical infrastructure. While we understand the hesitation about migrating to the world-wide-web to store company data, the idea that on-premise servers provide business owners with tighter security just isn’t true.
Last year, The New York Times published an editorial that sets the record straight. The article notes that Cloud data is likely protected by even higher security controls than data stored on a physical server. The article goes on to stress that because Cloud computing is continuing to evolve and becoming more popular, leading computer scientists are working to ensure that Cloud platforms are as impenetrable as possible.
However, many professionals are stubborn in their belief that Cloud computing simply doesn’t have strong enough mechanisms in place to protect business data and uphold compliance standards. However, more and more professionals are urging professionals to be even more cautious about data stored on native servers. Tech expert David Linthicum assessed traditional and Cloud systems side-by-side and found that Cloud solutions were actually more secure than on-premise servers.
Gartner echoed Linthicum’s findings and issuing a report that puts Cloud security concerns to rest.
“The security posture of major Cloud providers is as good as or better than most enterprise data centers and security should no longer be considered a primary inhibitor to the adoption of public cloud services,” Gartner execs stated in the report.
When it comes down to it, Cloud platforms that are built carefully, credibly and with the most robust, state-of-the-art tools, offer more security and compliance potential than a legacy data center. In fact, the Gartner report went on to note that that the number of breaches experienced by Cloud users will be at least 60% lower than those of on-premise server users by 2020.
- Cloud Myth #2 – Industry Regulators are Anti-Cloud
Another common myth surrounding Cloud computing for accounting professionals is that industry regulators are generally anti-Cloud. The belief is that regulators don’t trust the Cloud environment as an effective means of upholding compliance standards. But the reality is that both professional standards bodies and the federal government are becoming more and more receptive to the idea of virtualization and Cloud computing.
As the Cloud continues to become a more popular option for CPA’s, industry regulators are beginning to acknowledge the Cloud as a legitimate, viable and reliable form of compliant technology. In fact, many have started issuing specified guidelines for compliance in the Cloud, including the PCI Security Standards Council who recently issued its own set of guidelines for Cloud computing.
This is huge for accounting professionals who collect, transmit, and store mass amounts of sensitive financial data, account information, and payment card details every day. While the Cloud may have a reputation for being unsupportive in terms of industry compliance, the reality is the exact opposite.
Like security professionals, compliance regulators notice the growing popularity of the Cloud and are developing more detailed and relevant compliant standards to ensure Cloud computing and compliance can go hand-in-hand – read on to learn more about how.
- Cloud Myth # 3 – Cloud Virtualization Means Poor Security & Compliance
Now that you know security and regulatory professionals aren’t terrified of the Cloud, let’s take a look at how your finance organization can actually implement strategies for security and compliance. Organizations using virtualized platforms can be fully compliant so long as you meet the specific standards set out for virtual environments.
For instance, the PCI Security Standards Council has a comprehensive guide for PCI DSS Virtualization standards. This helps companies ensure their virtual environment is designed with security in mind from the very beginning. The guide helps professionals make key considerations when it comes to security and virtualization.
For instance, it stresses the importance of paying special attention to the hypervisor, since this is the most common spot for attacks in a virtual environment. The guide also provides tips on setting different security and access controls for different users in a virtual environment. Above all, the guideline offers concrete ways for your accounting firm to ensure your virtual environment is totally compliant and secure.
- Cloud Myth # 4 – A Secure Cloud Migration is Just Another Business Expense
It’s clear that CPA’s know a thing or two about keeping their budgets balanced. That’s why, this myth-buster hopefully comes as no surprise. Many business professionals think of Cloud migration and they automatically assume it will be a long, expensive and tedious transition – especially when trying to uphold tight security. However, when it comes to balancing security and cost efficiency, migrating to the Cloud is a no-brainer.
As we’ve laid out in previous sections, Cloud security and compliance is much more reliable than people believe. Many professionals go into Cloud migration with the idea that they’ll need to pay for a bunch of additional security services. But the reality is, Cloud solutions for CPA firms are built using a security by design approach. In the Cloud, compliance and security costs won’t increase and in fact, your total overhead costs stand to be cut dramatically.
In fact, we recently worked with a CPA firm that was looking to reduce costs. The overhead expenses for their office had become pricey, and they were looking for ways to work more efficiently and save capital. After some consultation, our client made the decision to move to the Cloud and we helped optimize the migration.
As a result, many of their employees are now able to work from home. This has reduced the size of their office and cut back significantly on overhead operational costs. Their data remains secure, their team has anytime access, and their operations have been streamlined – what more could an accounting firm ask for?
Two Birds, One Stone: Security & Cost Reduction for CPA’s in the Cloud
After dispelling these security myths and exploring the streamlining and cost-reduction power of the Cloud, most CPA’s are likely ready to jump on the Cloud bandwagon. The fact of the matter is, Cloud solutions for CPA’s are becoming one of the leading ways for accountants to get ahead and maintain a competitive edge.
We’ve only touched on some of the benefits, too. Security and cost reduction are probably the most important priorities for accountants, however, Cloud benefits for CPA’s include much more. From better organizing your firm’s resources and increasing your ability to take advantage of remote work opportunities, Cloud solutions for CPA’s help professionals better manage their network and better serve clients.
However, CPA firms looking for Cloud services should find a strategic IT consultant to develop a partnership with. It’s hard to prioritize an optimized IT environment when you’re focused on driving growth potential for your company and your clients. That’s why reaching out to a team of tech professionals with Cloud experience is the best way to ensure your Cloud implementation happens securely and strategically.
Accounting firms looking for Cloud migration support should reach out to professionals for one-on-one consultation. Talking with a team of IT consultants can help you better understand your specific security and compliance needs and ensure a smooth and secure migration. Don’t stay stuck in the past – say goodbye to hesitation and expensive IT infrastructure and get your accounting firm up-to-date.
Did you find this article informative? As always, we’re happy to help! If you liked this, check out these other articles we think you’ll love: