Step One: Secure Data at Your Accounting, Tax Preparation, or Finance Business
One of the biggest challenges you face as the owner of an accounting, tax preparation, or finance firm is securing all of your electronic information and communications. In today's world, it's impossible to do your work without the aid of the Internet and computer networks. In addition to Cyber Liability Insurance, here are three ways you secure the sensitive data your company handles each day:
Arm Your Firm with an Effective Security Strategy
Whether you decide to maintain your security system in your office or "in the cloud," your first line of defense is a network firewall. A network firewall controls the ebb and flow of traffic by investigating data and deciding whether or not that data should be transferred from an outside network to yours, and vice versa. In addition to preventing unauthorized intrusions, firewalls protect company's network by…
- Filtering URLs and applications.
- Scanning for harmful viruses and malware.
- Encrypting information.
- Providing secure wireless connectivity.
In addition to a firewall, you may consider equipping your network with voice system security, full-disk encryption, two-factor authentication, endpoint security and port protection, and updated anti-virus/anti-malware software. Further, always remember to protect your data with some kind of data loss prevention system.
Of course, none of these prevention strategies will matter much if your company suffers some kind of disastrous data loss, either from a server failure or otherwise. That's why a reliable back-up plan is crucial. In other words: data recovery. Many sources recommend the "old 3-2-1" rule…
- Keep three copies of important files (one original and two backups).
- Store data on two kinds of media (an external hard drive, a disk, the cloud, etc).
- Store one copy out of the office.
As a final note, remember that a truly secure network is routinely tested for weaknesses. Typically, a business like yours will hire another company to do this for them.
Bolster Your Electronic Security Strategy with Physical Security
Perhaps obviously, it's not enough to protect your data by electronic means. Your information is as valuable as any of your company's physical possessions, so treat it as such. In other words: Lock your door! You may think about installing security cameras and an alarm system on your company's property. In addition, any place where you store information — file cabinets, drawers, a server room — should be monitored 24 hours a day.
Implement a Communication Policy
As a business owner, you need to make sure you and your employees are on the same page when it comes to information security. Communication protocol should be documented, and your staff should be adequately trained and confident enough to enact protocol, should the situation arise. While this document may expand as your company grows, here are a few key areas to highlight…
- Company computer and e-mail usage. Employees should understand what is appropriate company communication, and what is not.
- Phone and laptop usage. They're called mobile devices for a reason. Your team should be trained on how to protect this equipment, even when it leaves the office.
- Personal storage. Adequate and secure information storage starts on an individual level.
When so many of your company's operations are performed online and so much sensitive information is stored on your servers, your business's success depends on your vigilance.