Internet security is important at any time of year. In the spring, however, hackers are feeling extra motivated to gain access to your information.

Imagine this scenario: You file your federal income tax return, only to receive a notice stating that you’ve already filed a return and received your refund. But wait! That can’t be right! You know you didn’t file a return yet, and you certainly did not receive a refund… What happened?

Unfortunately, this means someone gained access to your name and Social Security number, filed a phony return, and claimed your refund. And in most cases, there is no way to get that money back.

For business owners, the burden of responsibility is even greater. Not only could a security breach endanger you or your employees; all of your customers’ data is at risk, too. In just one recent incident, a criminal operation was caught claiming $4.6 million in phony tax refunds, from only 62 victims. The perpetrators stole information from a local CPA firm that did not have the proper security in place!

How can you protect your business and customers, as well as your own data and that of your employees?

  • Choose secure back-up methods for your data, such as a cloud system
  • Update all software when updates become available; these are important security patches that need to be installed immediately
  • Use smart passwords for each of your machines and online accounts, without duplicating passwords
  • Properly train your employees on password use
  • Avoid clicking on links in emails, or downloading attachments, and train your employees in the same manner
  • Look for the “lock” symbol in your address bar, to be certain you’re using secure websites
  • Don’t send or receive sensitive data over an insecure Wifi connection (such as at a hotel or coffee shop)
  • Use a well-known, professional tax preparation service

It’s important to note that even in the digital age, more “old fashioned” modes of theft do still occur. In the case referenced above, the data was stolen by a man cleaning the office after hours. It’s not always hackers who commit these crimes; sometimes, failing to secure your sensitive data can result in a theft closer to home. This underscores the importance of properly protecting your computer system with passwords, using a secure storage system, and only allowing employee access to sensitive data on a “need to know” basis.

For more information on securing not just your network, but also each machine connected to your business, give us a call at 888-RING-MY-TECH. We can help you devise strategies to protect customer information, as well as your own, to prevent embarrassing and expensive data breaches.