There are basic security measures every accounting firm and tax professional should set up to protect sensitive business and client information. These security steps ensure your accounting firm protects sensitive taxpayer information and maintains compliance with FTC Safeguards Rule.
While we outlined things your accounting firms should know about the FTC Safeguards Rule, this post provides you with the seven basic security measures your accounting firm must set up. Protecting your accounting business and client information from cybersecurity attacks and data breaches is a federal requirement and should be taken seriously.
Keep reading to learn the seven basic security measures you can set up today to ensure you protect your accounting firm from security breaches.
The first basic security measure your accounting firm should set up is robust business-grade antivirus software. Business-grade antivirus or anti-spam software is an essential step in protecting your business and clients from cybersecurity threats.
The right antivirus software works in the background of all your devices to ensure 24/7 security. The key to maintaining the efficacy of the software is routine updates and widespread use. Make sure every laptop, desktop, tablet, phone, and router used by your accounting team is using good anti-virus software. Educate yourself and your team on the importance of regular software updates to ensure you’re not exposing yourself to security gaps.
If you want to keep your accounting firm safe from cybersecurity breaches, consider setting up encryption and password protocols. These protocols are basic security measures that ensure any information you send or save is safe from security threats.
Installing encryption software protects sensitive taxpayer information that you may send via email or save to your files by taking your readable plain text email and scrambling the letters into an encrypted message. Once you send the email, the recipient’s email provider deciphers the message for them to read.
Another basic step to secure your files and sensitive information is establishing password protocols. Ensure your team builds strong passwords habits, including using the following:
One of the most crucial basic security measures your accounting firm can take to safeguard sensitive taxpayer information is to set up cloud backup. Archiving taxpayer files is an important part of successfully running your accounting practice. That’s why the information must be stored securely.
The best way to ensure sensitive business and taxpayer information is secure is to back up the data to an external source, such as cloud software. The key is to find a reputable IT solutions management company to help you store the information. In the case of a natural disaster or data breach, an IT management team can help you retrieve the information quickly.
Data backup and recovery is one of our specialties at ABL Computers. If you need to set up a backup process for sensitive taxpayer information, don’t delay in giving us a call. We’ll work with you to store your files off-site and through cloud backup to ensure you remain compliant with IRS security standards.
Before you hastily toss out that old computer tower, take steps to wipe or destroy any sensitive data that may be stored. Updating office equipment is essential to ensuring your accounting firm’s operations run smoothly. But that doesn’t mean you can simply toss the equipment in the recycling bin without proper file destruction.
You want to ensure any equipment is wiped clean or destroyed before disposal. This basic security measure ensures no one gets their hands on sensitive business or client information without your consent. Work with an expert IT management solutions team like ABL Computers to ensure any information on your hard drives, printers, and other office equipment is properly wiped and destroyed.
While establishing security measures on your tangible business equipment and software, it’s also critical you and your accounting team continue to educate themselves on emerging cybersecurity threats.
For example, staying on top of new phishing email scams or scam phone calls can save you from potential security breaches. To do this, set up some time with your team to review common phishing practices. You may find that creating a guide for your accounting team on common phishing techniques helps protect your business and sensitive client information.
Another basic security measure your accounting firm should set up is a clearly defined process for reporting suspected or actual data breaches. With a streamlined reporting process in place, you’re ensuring your team feels confident in reporting any suspected data losses or theft to the appropriate enforcement agencies.
You can review this process as part of your continuing education, or you may opt to create a desktop guide for all staff members to ensure everyone has the protocol on hand. Either way, your accounting firm is required to report suspected or actual breaches of sensitive taxpayer information. Failing to take appropriate action can result in hefty fines and loss of reputation and trust with your clients.
You can find contact information for your local IRS Stakeholder Liaison here.
The final basic security step your accounting firm should set up to avoid the pitfalls of security breaches is working to remove any outstanding authorizations. While retaining authorization records speeds up transaction times for your clients, retaining those authorizations for taxpayers who no longer use your services is a huge security risk.
Set up some time to establish a plan to review old client files and remove any outstanding authorizations or tax information that you no longer need to retain. Doing so can help you avoid cybersecurity breaches that may take months or years to discover.
If you need help setting up any of these seven basic security measures for your accounting firm, set up a call with us. We make IT management simple for accounting firms just like yours, and we’re ready to help you maintain compliance with IRS cybersecurity standards.
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