No one likes a warning from the IRS, but CPA firms are taking heed of the most recent message from the stalwart government agency: “Step Up” security for the mountains of sensitive information you obtain each year. CPA firms regularly keep digital files of names, addresses, social security numbers, and reported income, not to mention a cadre of additional personal information for their many clients. They are creating a “one stop shop for criminals because all the information they need is housed in one location,” according to NBC Nightly News in this clip. The IRS is urging all CPA and tax firms to encrypt all sensitive client data, password protect Wifi networks, and install anti-virus software immediately.
Some firms are even going the extra mile to hire cyber security experts to expose their own firms’ vulnerabilities, as seen in the video feature.
The IRS should know, they are privy to many tax schemes and go to far as to issue a yearly report of their “dirty dozen tax scams” on their website at irs.gov. Repeat offenders this year include identity theft, phishing schemes and thieves posing as IRS agents via phone and text. They encourage individuals to use the same best practices as tax professionals: Always use security software with firewall and anti-virus protections. Make sure the security software is always turned on and can automatically update. Encrypt sensitive files such as tax records stored on the computer. Use strong passwords.
With the increasing rates of data theft, it’s imperative to increase security protection and data backup. CPA firms with a solid DRaaS plan and air-gapped backup can ensure business continuity during this busy time of year, but can also help provide forensic information to identify where the vulnerability occurred and what information was at risk. If your CPA firm isn’t 100% confident in your data protection, contact GDV to discuss how we can make sure you get those taxes files on time even if a hacker targets your company.