Computer security is an increasingly pressing issue for companies due to the significant rise in business hacking. As a small business accounting professional, you’re doubly at risk: first because you handle financial information for your clients, and second, because small businesses are more vulnerable to hacking attacks. Hackers know that small businesses likely don’t have the same level of security as large corporations. To increase the security for your accounting business, take these steps to protect yourself cyber attacks:
Encrypting sensitive data is a key step. Importantly, encrypted data is protected by encryption regardless of whether it’s stored on a hard drive, in the cloud, or from being sent from one party to another. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates provide basic encryption for businesses, but you may want to go a step further and acquire encryption software such as TruCrypt, a free encryption program that you can use to encrypt and hide files or entire drives. How important is encryption? – A survey conducted by Experian found that 60% of data breaches occurred at companies that failed to use data encryption services.
Manage Employee Use of Computers
Educating your employees and managing their computer usage can go a long way toward preventing data security breaches. Many breaches occur innocently as the result of employees accidentally downloading viruses or spyware. Making sure employees are educated on security can be a big help. You may also want to check your employees passwords to make sure they’ve entered strong, difficult to duplicate, ones. To prevent purposeful employee theft of data, if you use the Windows operating system, you can block using USB or optical drives with Windows Registry to prevent copying and transferring of data. You can also make use of network monitoring software, such as DataSafe or Endpoint Access Manager, that monitor network and internet communications and identify potential security risks. Also consider regularly performing internal audits of your computer system security.
Use an IT Security Firm
A good step to consider is hiring an IT security consultant to review your existing computer security and make recommendations for improvements. Since such consultants regularly deal with the aftermath of security breaches at a variety of businesses, they generally have the best and most up-to-date knowledge regarding how to protect yourself. They may make recommendations that go beyond basic anti-virus and anti-malware protection, such as more secure computer hardware.
Protect Yourself with a Liability Contract
The recent instances of data hacks from major corporations shows that there’s no such thing as perfect security in today’s computer world. You can plan ahead for handling the worst case scenario of having some of your clients’ sensitive financial data hacked by getting legal liability protection for your accounting business. An attorney that specializes in computer security and liability issues can create a liability contract for you that protects your business as much as legally possible by contractually limiting the extent of your liability for data breaches and putting a cap on your potential legal financial obligations in such cases. As a small business accountant, it’s important to be aware of the potential risk that data security breaches pose to your company. Taking steps to limit your exposure and liability are a good investment in the future of your business.