In Q1 2020, Huddle conducted a comprehensive survey with over 500 employees- working within the Professional Services and Accountancy sectors, to learn more about how they use technology to collaborate and engage with clients.

One of the most prolific and concerning items on the agenda for most of those we spoke to was the threat of a data breach.

When asked about the industry challenges that are having the biggest impact on their respective roles, 49% of those surveyed agreed that the increased threat of a data security breach was their top challenge. In recent years, cyber-security incidents have risen in profile and have led not only to data breaches and operational disruption, but also to reputational damage for the business involved.

For professional services and accountancy firms that handle sensitive client data, the indiscriminate way in which many cyber-security attacks begin (such as a phishing attacks or a Business Email Compromise scan), makes this a very real concern.


Are firms doing enough to protect themselves?

Despite firms operating in highly regulated markets, our research points to some worrying trends.


Shadow IT

The use of such ‘Shadow IT applications (apps and services used without IT’s knowledge) remains a concern. In fact, 35% of respondents admitted to using a personal file sharing service (such as Dropbox, Google Drive or Box) to share sensitive files with clients outsides of the firewall.

Not only do such services often fall short of an organization’s security policy, but with sensitive files being transferred outside of the enterprise domain, data privacy regulations may also be cause for concern.

The problem was highest among respondents working within mid-market firms (100-500 employees). Here, 41% regularly use a personal file sharing service, and 29% use USB ‘thumb drives for the distribution of client files.’

While many knowledge workers use USB drives to increase the portability of their files, the unofficial flow of data from these devices can increase the risk of data leakage. Similarly, and depending on the nature of the content, data protection may also become an issue.

Surprisingly, use of shadow-IT services was highest among more senior respondents; with almost half (47%) of Partners and Senior Executives admitting to using consumer file sharing services.


Does email still have a place?

Email remains the most pervasive method of sharing and working on files with clients. 62% use it regularly; although its popularity is much lower among younger respondents (under 24 years old) at just 43%. This rises to 67% for those between 45-54 years of age.

  • However, despite its prevalence, email is a poor choice for sharing and collaborating on files with clients. Not only does it present problems with maintaining version control, but email-based security threats are on the rise. In fact, 91% of cyber-attacks and data breaches begin with an email, and the rise of Business Email Compromise (BEC) scams has increased by almost 100%. Our research also discovered that 64% of people have received a phishing email in work!


How we can help

Huddle’s cloud-based workspaces make it easy for internal teams and clients to come together, share and edit files, assign tasks and track team activity in a secure, shared environment. Quite simply, Huddle is the fastest, most secure way to work in the cloud; helping firms to win more business, retain more clients and increase account profitability.


If you would like to find out more about how we can help transform the way you collaborate across your organization, book a demo.


To download a copy of the whitepaper, click here.

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