In addition to preparing your clients taxes, you are also responsible for keeping their private information safe. As a tax professional, you have access to a lot of confidential information that cybercriminals want. Here are some important procedures you can implement to reduce your chances of a data breach.
It may seem obvious, but a main priority for keeping information safe should be having top-notch security software that includes a firewall, anti-malware and anti-virus system programmed to automatically update. You can add an extra layer of protection by having an outside company who specializes in security software review your systems on a regular basis. This will keep your security systems up-to-date and ensure that you do everything in your power to keep data safe against the latest online threats.
Back to the Basics:
It’s easy to get comfortable and forget about day-to-day safety procedures. Be sure you are connected to internal secure networks. If Wi-Fi is active, avoid using guest and non-secure networks at all costs. If you are away from your desk for any period of time, pair password protection with sleep mode to lock your computer. Lastly, keep up with regular end of day routines such as backing-up computer(s) and storing any physical files in an organized lockable unit. This ensures you are going to great lengths to keep sensitive data safe.
There is no method more secure than having a client put their scanned documents on a CD or thumb drive and physically handing it to a tax preparer. If information must be sent digitally, take the time to explain to your clients the importance of using an encrypted file sharing service or encrypting emails that contain sensitive documents and tax information.
When creating passwords, you should create longer passwords that include a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols or special characters.
Involve your clients:
Tell clients to avoid posting sensitive information on social media and online sites. These sites are a destination for cybercriminals to gain easy access to personal information.
According to the IRS, over 90% of all returns are prepared using tax preparation software, and over 80% are filed electronically. In addition to taking measures to secure private information in your office, remind clients to secure sensitive data on their personal computer as well.
One of the most pressing issues affecting the tax business today is data security and preventing a data breach. As cybercrime continues to grow, make sure that you keep your business up to date on prevention and security.