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Understand the "Security Six" Steps to Protect Your Client Data

Understand the

It is understandable that not everyone knows that federal law requires all professional taxpayers to create and maintain a functional information security plan for customer data. Whether you are a small business owner or a member of a large corporation, you are a growing target for cybercriminals who want access to your customer's personal information. Taking the time to implement additional security measures will now protect you, your business, and your valued customers in the future.

For several years, the IRS, state tax authorities, and partners in the tax community have joined forces to fight threats from cybercriminals attacking the industry. These efforts have greatly reduced the number of tax identity theft cases each year. According to the IRS, the number of reported cases decreased from 401,000 in 2016 to 242,000 in 2017.

The fight is not over yet. New scams and threats are identified every year, as scammers keep coming up with new ways to get taxpayers' details. The safeguards are put in place to protect taxpayers from known threats, criminals targeting tax professionals are adjusting their tactics to uncover new opportunities and weaknesses. What can you do to help? The IRS recently launched a security checklist to help professional tax preparers cover the basics of online threats.

Known as the " Taxes-Security-Together Checklist," the checklist highlights six key areas that tax professionals should consider when planning and developing their security plan:

Here's more information on these basic protections everyone, especially tax-sensitive data professionals, should use:


Antivirus software

This software scans your computer's files or memory for certain patterns that may indicate malicious software, also known as malware, on your device. Antivirus vendors discover new issues and update malware daily. That is why users must install the latest software updates.


Firewall

Firewalls protect against external intruders. The firewall protects computers and networks from malicious or unnecessary web traffic. This is to prevent malicious software from entering the user's system.


Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication helps create an extra layer of security to a password. The user who returns enters credentials such as username and password. Then there is another step, like entering a security code from a google authenticator or any other type of authenticator or a one-time password (OTP) sent to your phone.


Backup software or services

Users should regularly back up critical files from their computers and hard drives to external sources.


Drive Encryption

Since tax professionals keep sensitive client data on their computers, users should consider drive encryption software. Drive encryption is also called disk encryption. Turn your computer data into unreadable files. This means that only those who are authorized to access the data can do so.


Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Employees of many tax companies sometimes need to connect to unfamiliar networks or work from home. Therefore, the office must establish an encrypted virtual private network. This allows for a more secure connection.

A VPN provides a secure and encrypted tunnel to transmit data between a remote user over the Internet and the corporate network.


Conclusion

By following the six security measures suggested above for taxes and accountants, you can rest assured that your client's data is secure.


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