Data security for accounting professionals has become a very important issue over the years, especially with the advancement of technology. Responsible for all clients’ most sensitive financial and personal details, CPAs must have security measures in place to be protected from hackers and unwanted public access. While we could write a book on it (and many people have) here are 5 things every CPA needs to ensure their practice is secure.
5 Things Every CPA Needs To Ensure Their Practice is Secure
1) Determine Cyber-Assets
The first step to secure tax preparation services or a CPA practice is to determine your cyber-assets. Take time to make a list of the technology that is used in your office and enlist the help of your office or IT manager to help comprise an accurate list. There are four categories of cyber-assets that should be considered:
- Network Infrastructure
- Computing Systems & Hardware
- Applications & Software
2) Create Strong Passwords
One of the biggest threats to a CPA practice or tax preparation services are reused passwords. By using repetitive passwords, you set yourself up for hackers and the public access to your accounts. The best way to prevent this issue is to select passwords using a strong password generator. These passwords are not always the easiest to remember, so writing them down (if you have to do this, hide the note somewhere unconventional) or saving them securely in a locked or encrypted document is always helpful.
Other ways to strengthen your passwords include securing passwords with a password manager, creating a strong passphrase (more complicated password), and enabling multi-factor authentication.
3) Strengthen Your Wireless Network
Wireless internet allows us to take care of business from any place at any time. Although convenient for the user, wifi is a haven of public access, and hackers can gain entry to these networks and the data that is held within them. In order to keep this data secure, it is important to strengthen your wireless network through the following security measures:
- Have Secured Access for Administrators
- Enforce Wi-Fi Authentication
- Keep Guest Access Limited
- Consider Physical Security (Store & Lock Your Router)
4) Keep Your Internal Systems Protected
With internal systems and processes becoming more and more digitized each year, online attackers tend to target computers with the hopes to access further systems and accounts. Here are a few ways open network connectivity and malware (software intended to damage a device/system) can be protected within your CPA practice:
- Update Systems Regularly
- Invest in Anti-Malware Software
- Maintain Limited Access
- Enable Your Firewall
5) Protect Sensitive Data
Like many accounting firms, a CPA tends to be responsible for large amounts of confidential information for their clients. Whether it is accessing, utilizing, or transferring sensitive data, it is of utmost importance to have a data protection plan in place. Always plan to:
- Protect data in motion – start web addresses with “https.”
- Protect data at rest – data stored on a computer or device that needs to be secured
- Protect cloud-based data
Be Protected & Tax Compliant
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