As virtual offices have become increasingly popular because of COVID, many accounting firms have turned to some sort of hosting solution as a continuity plan. In part one of this two-part series, we discussed the risks associated with hosting QuickBooks files. In this article, we will discuss moving towards a hosted solution and how to best mitigate the risks associated with it. With this knowledge, you can develop your own comprehensive security strategy with the best tools and practices to significantly reduce your firm’s risks.
In House Hosted Solution
You may decide that an in house hosted solution will fit your business needs. This solution may be best if you are fortunate to have a dedicated IT department as it usually requires some hardware setup such as a physical server or host PC for your network. During setup, you’ll want to ensure your IT department installs a proper firewall and anti-virus. Then going forward, you’ll want to ensure your IT team updates these items regularly. You may also consider implementing user permissions within the server or network. Regularly reviewing these permissions and user roles can help protect your data and prevent inappropriate access.
Cloud Hosted Solution
If your business requires access from anywhere from any device, you may consider a true hosted solution. In this case, your QuickBooks application and company files are accessed from your cloud hosted provider via the internet. Cloud hosted providers usually charge per seat so your hosting prices can quickly add up if you have a larger team.
Intuit has an authorized hosting service provider program. Through this program, hosting companies can submit an application similar to a background check. Once approved, Intuit will add the company to their authorized list published on their website. As part of the agreement, the authorized hosting provider is exclusively responsible for the security and privacy of its hosting solution. The authorized hosting program also states that Intuit does not certify, sponsor or guarantee the hosting provider’s services. Therefore, you’ll still want to complete your due diligence to mitigate any risks. It’s best to start with a list of your needs which include the basic questions about encryption, access controls, and digital trails when selecting the best hosting provider for your firm.
In 2019, a major cloud hosting provider had a Ransomware attack, leaving their customers unable to access their accounting data for a few days and unsure if they would ultimately get it back. So even though hosting seems secure, always be mindful that attacks can always happen. You can mitigate these risks by selecting a provider that allows the ability to backup your data to a location outside of the hosted environment. If you implement a practice such as backing up your data weekly, then if the worst happened, you may lose a week of data instead of your entire company file.
Unfortunately, the hosting fees or IT costs may put both in house hosting and cloud hosting out of the price range for your business. However, file sharing options are another alternative to safely and securely share QuickBooks files. One file sharing option is Qbox which has a unique architecture that combines the benefits of secure cloud hosting with the ability to still work off your desktop. You can mitigate your risks by enabling two-factor verification, creating local backups as needed, and knowing that the syncing application offers bank-level security by leveraging end-to-end encryption to the same security standards as modern banking institutions.
Click Here to read part one of this two-part series, Risks of Hosting QuickBooks Files.