Cybersecurity Vs. IT Service Providers: Key Differences

When it comes to protecting your tax preparation business from cyber threats, relying solely on a “tech guy” is not enough to ensure compliance with the IRS. While IT services can provide some security solutions, they are not the same as cyber security providers. It’s essential for tax preparers to understand the explicit instructions and expectations of the IRS to remain compliant with the law.
The GLBA (Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act) sets specific guidelines for tax preparers to have a written information security plan (WISP), also known as a data security plan (DSP), in place. Any tax preparer who renewed their PTIN is likely already familiar with this requirement. However, there are additional standards to be met that are outlined by the IRS, including the need to contract with a cybersecurity expert to prevent thefts.
It’s important to note that IT services and cyber security services are distinct entities with different focuses. IT services support day-to-day operations related to technology, such as computer and network maintenance and software support, while cyber security services provide protection against unauthorized access to confidential information. Although they can be provided by the same third party, it’s crucial for tax preparers to understand the differences and seek out a provider that can meet their specific cyber security needs.
One of the most crucial requirements that the IRS imposes on tax preparers is to contract a cybersecurity expert to prevent thefts of sensitive client information. This mandate is explicitly stated on the IRS website and is non-negotiable. Merely having a “tech guy” on staff is insufficient, as compliance requires a specific, detailed contract outlining the necessary cybersecurity measures to be taken.
Contract with cybersecurity expert to stop thefts
Compliance with this requirement is essential, as the implications of a data breach can be severe. In addition to the loss of sensitive client information, there can be legal, financial, and reputational consequences for the tax preparer. Therefore, contracting a cybersecurity expert is a critical step in ensuring compliance with IRS regulations and safeguarding clients’ confidential information. It is important to note that while IT services for accountants may provide assistance with day-to-day operations, cybersecurity for accountants is a specific focus on preventing unauthorized access to client information, making it a distinct entity that requires specialized expertise.

Why Tax Preparers Need Cyber Security Providers

As an accountant, you have access to a significant amount of sensitive information that must be kept secure. It’s your responsibility to ensure that this data is properly protected, which is why having a cyber security provider is essential. If you weren’t aware before, you should know now that the IRS mandates the need for a cyber security contract. However, you may already have one in place.
If you have a tech guy or team in place, there are a few indicators that you might have a contract in place, including specific details around cyber security and compliance with federal law within the employment contract. The easiest way to determine if your contract meets the requirements is if your team created your data security plan. A cyber security expert specializing in accounting firms, tax preparers, enrolled agents, and CPA’s knows that ensuring their employer is compliant with federal laws is crucial. They would have spent time with you and your team creating that critical document and reviewing it yearly to make appropriate adjustments.
If that hasn’t happened, it’s highly likely that you don’t have what you need to protect your clients’ information adequately. It’s worth reviewing your contract to see if these services are included. If they are, and they’re not being provided, you, your clients, and your business are at risk. The risks of noncompliance with the law and successful cyber attacks are severe and can have significant repercussions for everyone involved.

Understanding The Distinctions: IT Services Vs. Cybersecurity For Tax Preparers

When it comes to tax preparation, it is essential for tax preparers to understand the differences between IT services and cybersecurity for tax preparers to ensure compliance with IRS regulations. The IRS has established guidelines that require tax preparers to have a contract with a cybersecurity expert to prevent data breaches and cyber thefts. A simple IT service may not be sufficient to protect sensitive client information.

IT Services Vs. Cybersecurity Services

IT Services

IT services have become an integral part of the accounting industry. As accounting firms rely more heavily on technology to manage their operations, IT services have become essential to ensuring that they can run smoothly. IT services for accountants can include a wide range of tasks, such as managing hardware and software systems, providing user support, and troubleshooting technical issues that arise.
Hardware management involves installing, configuring, and maintaining the physical components of the computer system, such as the servers, workstations, and printers. This ensures that the hardware functions correctly, and the accounting firm can access the software and data it needs to operate. IT services also include software management, which involves installing and maintaining software applications and ensuring that they run smoothly.
In addition to hardware and software management, IT services also provide user support. This involves assisting employees with technical issues they may encounter, such as problems with software applications or hardware components. IT services staff are responsible for addressing these issues promptly to minimize disruptions to the firm’s operations.
Another important task performed by IT services is the monitoring of computer systems. This involves tracking the performance of the hardware and software systems and identifying any potential issues before they become problems. IT services staff can use various tools and techniques to monitor system performance and ensure that everything is running smoothly.
Overall, IT services are critical to the smooth operation of accounting firms. Without reliable IT services, firms can experience significant downtime, lost productivity, and potential data breaches. While IT services are essential, they are not the same as cybersecurity services, which are focused specifically on protecting client information from unauthorized access and release.

Cybersecurity Services

Accountants handle sensitive financial information and must protect it from cyber threats. Cybersecurity services are tailored to protect against unauthorized access through encryption, firewalls, antivirus software, and regular updates. Expertise in cybersecurity requires a deep understanding of technology and its processes.
Moreover, cybersecurity professionals must have a strong foundation in programming and the ability to write code in different languages, including assembly. This is because a cybersecurity expert must be able to identify and understand how the malicious code operates to protect against potential threats.
Cybersecurity services can also involve conducting risk assessments and audits to identify vulnerabilities in the system. Cybersecurity experts will also be responsible for implementing security protocols and procedures that the organization must follow to ensure data protection.
A critical aspect of cybersecurity services is monitoring the system and network for potential threats or breaches. In the event of a breach, a cybersecurity professional should have the necessary tools and knowledge to identify the source of the attack and take the necessary steps to mitigate the damage.
It is essential to note that while some IT services may overlap with cybersecurity services, they are not interchangeable. IT services are more concerned with the day-to-day maintenance of computer systems and ensuring that they are running optimally. Whereas, cybersecurity services are focused on protecting the organization’s sensitive data from external and internal threats.
It is crucial for organizations to understand the distinction between IT services and cybersecurity services and work with professionals who have the necessary qualifications and expertise to ensure that their data is protected. It is also important for organizations to take a proactive approach to cybersecurity and invest in the necessary tools and protocols to prevent potential breaches before they occur.

Choosing The Right Provider For Your Business

As an tax preparer, accountant, or bookkeeper, it is essential to understand the difference between IT services and cybersecurity services. IT services focus on the day-to-day operations of computer systems, networks, and software programs used by the business. IT service providers help with any technical issues that arise and provide recommendations on how to improve systems, but they do not necessarily provide protection against data breaches.
On the other hand, cybersecurity services are designed to protect client information from unauthorized access and release. Cybersecurity measures include encryption, firewalls, antivirus software, setting up a VPN, and regular software updates to mitigate vulnerabilities. Cybersecurity is a separate field of study and is not just about protecting data from being stolen or corrupted but also about compliance with federal law.
To ensure compliance with IRS regulations and protect clients’ sensitive information, tax preparers must have a contract with a cybersecurity expert. It is recommended to find an outside company that is specialized in the field and can provide everything required by law. Working with a security service provider is generally more cost-effective than hiring a security specialist internally.
In summary, to protect your business and clients from cyber threats and remain in compliance with the law, it is vital to choose the right company that can provide both IT services and cybersecurity services. By doing so, you can have peace of mind knowing that your data is secure and your business is protected. If you need help or would like to find out more, schedule a time to talk with a specialist.


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