The internet is a powerful space. With technological advances making data storage easier than ever, gone are the days of warehouses filled with filed information. However, because data storage is now accessible completely online, many companies and organizations are taking the extra step to ensure that data about themselves and their clients are being protected with top notch cyber security.
With many underground organizations looking to hack into your data storage to steal and sell client information, it’s important to never underestimate the importance of protecting your computers, networks, programs, and data from unauthorized access, change, or destruction.
So here are a few ways to ensure that your firm’s data remains safe at all levels of the business.
1. Secure Your Networks
Use a firewall and encrypt information to make sure you’re safeguarding your internet connection. This also goes for your Wi-Fi network. It’s important to secure it with a good password that is only accessible to your employees or other trusted guests at your firm. You can take this a step further by making your Wi-Fi network hidden so that it does not broadcast itself. You can hire a third party company to manage your cyber security for you.
2. Set Up Strong Passwords & Change Them Often
Something as simple as this can prevent a lot of turmoil in the future. Strong passwords are ones that include a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, symbols, and are generally longer than 12 characters. This permutation makes the password more difficult to crack—and changing them often contributes to this difficulty. Never use default passwords such as “password” or “admin” since hackers often try these first and with surprising success.
3. Use Antivirus Software
Protect all computers at your firm with antivirus software and antispyware that will protect them from viruses, spyware, and other malicious code. Many vendors make these types of software readily available and provide patches and updates to respond to new potential threats and to improve functionality. You can make it so the software updates automatically, giving you peace of mind that all computers are constantly being protected and are up-to-date.
4. Educate Staff About Cyber Threats
This is probably one of the most important things you can do to make sure everyone at the firm understands that they’re accountable for client and firm information. Educate them about online threats, how to protect data, and compliance to your firm’s internet security policies and procedures. If some of your staff work from home or are often at client sites, remind them to make sure that they’re logged on to secure networks.
5. Have a Data Breach Response Procedure
Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, there may come a time when your data may get breached. Whether it is big or small, the best thing to do is have a response procedure in place that you can automatically defer to in order to gain control of the situation as soon as possible. This will give you the opportunity to limit the damage and close off any other vulnerabilities you may have. However, this plan will not work if not everyone is on the same page. So make sure you hold a training session every so often that details what staff and management need to do in the event of a breach.
As technology continues to improve, so do the techniques and tactics that many hackers create and use.
Which is why cyber security continues to be an ever-changing landscape that forces all businesses to remain up-to-date and savvy with how they’re protecting their information. As an accounting firm, protecting your clients’ data should be a top priority, so make sure you’re doing all you can to not fall victim to an online data breach.