February 1, 2017
As a business owner, you are privy to a lot of confidential information – information that could do your clients harm if it ends up in the wrong hands. Here are some ways to ensure you are protecting your client’s information.
Your Security Software
Overall, your security software needs to be comprehensive and up-to-date. It should include a firewall, anti-malware and anti-virus programs. Having multiple layers of security will make your system harder to penetrate and scare away hackers who are looking for an easy target.
Password protect everything that contains client data – including all computers. Adopt a “need to know” policy, restricting access to client data to authorized individuals. Make sure everyone has their own login and password for computers and software so that you know who is accessing what and when. Revoke logins after an employee ends their employment with your company.
You should also require employees to change their passwords every 60-90 days and make sure that they use strong passwords that contain numbers, symbols, upper & lowercase letters (so, no making “password” your password).
Update Your Systems
Keep up with updates for all software and when possible elect to automatically update. Program and system updates are designed to protect you against the latest viral attacks and ensure that your systems are running properly.
Secure Wireless Connection
Make sure your WiFi network is password protected and is not given to just anyone who wants access. Use a guest WiFi that clients can access when visiting the office.
All old paperwork needs to be properly disposed of via shredding or incinerating.
Lock Up Client Files
Client data in the form of paperwork or other portable media needs to be stored in a secure place – under lock and key. Remind employees not to leave client information on their desks or in a public area, such as a copy room.
Files and information sent through the internet needs to be encrypted. This includes all emails containing client ID and data.
Make sure that all of your employees know the importance of and responsibility for protecting client data. This should be a part of employee training. Proper procedures for securing information must be discussed on an ongoing basis. Terminate access to client information for anyone who is no longer employed by your business. Create security requirements for your entire staff regarding computer information systems, paper records and use of client data. Provide periodic training to update staff members on any changes and ensure compliance. Employees need to be aware of the most current phishing schemes so that information isn’t leaked.
Prevent Data Loss
Your data needs to be backed up frequently on either an external hard drive that is kept in a secure location with limited access by others, or online through a secure connection. Data should always be stored on two kinds of media (paper, external hard drive, a disk, the cloud, etc.).
Secure your Physical Space
Don’t forget to secure your building as well. You should always lock your doors and file cabinets in the event of a break-in. If you use a digital keypad, make sure you regularly change the entry code. In addition to locks, consider installing security cameras and an alarm system on your company’s property.
Get Insurance and Make a Plan
There is insurance available to protect you and your clients from a data breach or Cyber Attack. If you haven’t already, look into Errors and Omissions Insurance. Finally, create a comprehensive plan to notify clients in case you are ever the victim of any data breach or theft.
Is your family’s money mantra, “Easy come, easy go?” Does your family ever talk about saving money or setting financial goals? No matter where your family is on the financial literacy spectrum, it’s important to help your kids learn the value and wise management of money so they grow up to be financially responsible.
There are many details that go into your return, so it is not uncommon to overlook an item in the process of filing a return. It is also possible that after you have filed your return, your employer, contractor, or investment manager will send you a correction on the total income you earned throughout the year.
If you’re like many self-employed business owners, you may be tempted to stick to the tried-and-true tax deductions (your home office, if you have one, office supplies, mileage, meals, etc.) when doing your taxes. However, one important money-saving advantage of working with a tax professional is they can identify lesser known deductions that you may be entitled to, but are unaware of.