Tax Season and Cybercrime: Keeping Tax Data Safe
he increase in cybercrime over the past decade has added one more reason to be nervous about tax season. Tax preparers and accounting firms are prime targets during tax season because their computers and databases are rich with personally identifiable information like driver’s license numbers, bank statements, investment details, W2s, and much more. In addition, most tax preparing firms ramp staff during tax season, which means a larger, geographically dispersed workforce that isn’t protected by an on premise security infrastructure and likely isn’t connected to IT’s inventory and security protocol for devices, installed software, and workstation configurations.
Consumers are trusting accounting firms and tax preparers with massive amounts of personal data and how those companies protect and ensure the safety of that data is key to their reputations and future business. The National Cyber Security Alliance in cooperation with the Identity Theft Resource Center recently released their 2018 report, Stay Safe From Cybercrime During Tax Time. While the report references are mostly consumer-focused, the protection advice is just as relevant to tax professionals, accounting firms, and those who provide CPA services.
Simplicit Technologies, an IT service provider based in California released their own 2018 report, Top 20 Cyber Security Checklist For Accounting Firms. Their report covers top security best practices around software, passwords, device tracking, encryption, user authorizations, insurance, and breach response plans.
Both reports stated the number one way to prevent cyber fraud is to keep all software, browsers, and operating systems updated with the latest software on both computers and mobile devices. Hackers don’t look for the hardest way to get in, they look for the easiest. And the most vulnerable area of any computer or device connected to the internet is the software installed to run applications. Outdated software is the #1 way malicious entities (people or malware) gain unauthorized access to data for both consumers and businesses.
In theory, keeping software updated on a computer seems straightforward and easy. When a patch or update for Firefox, Adobe Acrobat, or Microsoft Excel gets released, you install it. But multiply that by hundreds or thousands of employees on different operating systems (Windows, Mac or Linux) across a workforce spread across the state or country, and that effort becomes exponentially complicated.
Automox helps companies protect ALL their endpoints, regardless of OS or location. We enable IT Managers and System Administrators to get visibility into every endpoint, easily identify outdated software and patches, and take immediate action to remedy the risk by patching required software. Our base of worldwide customers includes financial institutions, accounting firms, banks, and investment funds, who all rely on Automox to help keep their clients’ financial data secure. If you are a CPA, individual tax preparer, or manage hundreds of accountants, consider utilizing Automox and see how easy it can be to have one less thing to stress about during tax season.
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