The State of Cloud Accounting – Part 3: Security
Previously in our series, we discussed banking innovation and software updates. In Part 3 of The State of Cloud Accounting, we’re covering the advances in security that happened in 2015 and what they mean heading into next year.
According to online accounting technology recommendation service Software Advice’s 2014 industry survey, only 16% of small businesses were using cloud-based accounting software. What was the major hold back? Security concerns. Fast forward to to 2015, and it’s apparent that software companies are starting to get the message. However, there are still some holes that need to be filled.
We covered ways that you can secure your accounting stack in a previous post, but the flip side is the responsibility that a software company has to you as a user to secure your data. Financial data is considered critical business information, meaning it is imperative to continue operating, so it’s no wonder there is concern around it’s protection. But it’s important to educate yourself around what is necessary and not be deterred simply because of hype.
Overall, there is still a giant gap in self-education around securing financial cloud data. No doubt because data security is not a pre-disposed topic of interest for those in the financial career path. However, like every other discipline that has moved to the cloud, understanding technology is becoming a required skill. There were very few blog posts in 2015 that went beyond the basic “create strong passwords” recommendations. Without closing the knowledge gap for security, increasing cloud accounting software adoption rates will be challenging.
Currently, software companies offer protection for you data with security measures like roles and permissions for users and store your data in top-notch data centers with strong disaster recovery plans. A big upgrade for 2015 was around making mobile apps more secure. With the increase in functionality available on mobile, it was important to add another level of security. Companies like QuickBooks and FreshBooks recently took advantage of new security features available on mobile phones and added Touch ID and passcode protection to their app.
The big question still left open in 2015 was around data ownership. While most companies address this issue in their terms of service, this is still a grey area for two main reasons. First, often times it is unclear if you can access your data if your account is suspended or closed and how long it is available. Second, while you may be able to export data, there can be questions around what you can versus cannot export and what it comes out looking like. These questions should have been more clearly addressed in 2015, but without pressure applied to the software companies, no clarifications have been made.
An important takeaway for 2015 is to ask more questions and require clarification on data ownership. Also, if you and your team are using mobile versions of your cloud accounting software, be sure to take advantage of the additional security levels now available.
— Abacus (@abacus) October 15, 2015