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Data Security and Backup for Accounting Firm

CPA

Introduction

Let’s face facts: the office-based worker is a thing of the past. Users access their corporate data from anywhere at any time from any device. While mobility offers organizations significant productivity benefits, it also increases the risk of data loss that could cause irreparable harm.

Regardless of the time of year, accountants and tax professionals face risks from a number of fronts: they handle sensitive client information, they depend on easily damaged technology, and they often have to contend with client emotions in discussions about money and financial planning. The days when a solid perimeter firewall was enough are long gone.

To prevent data breaches and keep sensitive data, such as personally identifiable information (PII), out of the wrong hands, security professionals need the right tools to minimize risk. Vendors have responded by developing technology that, used properly, can significantly reduce the risk of data loss.

Backup strategy for Accounting Firm

Handling sensitive consumer data such as social security numbers and bank account information is a core part of a tax professional’s job, yet many feel inadequately protected from cybercrime related risks, according to a recent poll of National Association of Tax Professionals’ (NATP) members.

A survey of 633 tax professionals polled at the association’s annual conference in Phoenix revealed that fewer than half of attendees polled were very familiar with the risks posed by cyber incidents, such as data theft, identify theft and computer viruses. Only 15 percent reported having cyber liability coverage, and just one in three (33 percent) report having a written business continuity or disaster recovery plan.

Here’s a look at ways accountants and other tax professionals can prevent those risk exposures from triggering a costly data breach, computer failure, or lawsuit – any of which could keep your practice from thriving.

1. Back-up Information the 3-2-1 Way: Sure, we all know it’s important to back up our data. But do you know how to create backups that actually work? For accountants and tax professionals, the 3-2-1 Rule is golden:

  • Maintain three copies of important documents. An original and at least two full backups.
  • Use two types of media to store information. (e.g., satellite office or private/hybrid cloud)
  • Keep one copy outside your office (e.g., hybrid cloud or off-site data center).

This system allows for retrieval of important information in virtually every scenario: loss of power, property damage to your office, corruption of a file, theft of equipment, etc. And that means you’ll be able to serve your clients and keep your business afloat no matter what happens.

2. Protect Valuable Resources Physically and Digitally: Because you store sensitive information, including bank accounts, Social Security numbers and incomes, accounting practices are hot targets for data breach. According to Symantec, as of May 2013, the average cost for a U.S. company was $5.4 million. The studies show that 55 percent of small businesses experienced at least one breach in the last year. How can you prevent these costs from devastating your firm? Set up robust data protections, including…

  • Physical barriers: Paper records with sensitive information need to be under lock and key.
  • Passwords: Both accountants and employees should follow guidelines for creating strong passwords and updating them regularly. More than three-quarters of data breaches are still caused by hackers guessing too-easy passwords.
  • Encryption: Investing in software to encrypt your clients’ data is essential to not only winning trust, but also preventing hacks.
  • Antivirus protections: In addition to antivirus software for all machines you use for work, consider requiring your employees to complete a basic training course on avoiding hackers online.
  • Limited access: Provide access to sensitive data (hard and digital) on an as-needed basis. This limits your exposure points and thus the likelihood of a hack.

Even with all these measures in place, though, you could be victimized by a data breach.

3. Remember Your Physical Risks: Sure, your job exposes you to risks from digital threats, but it is also important to remember the physical risks you face. Your property is susceptible to storm damage, power surges, and theft – but chances are, your Insurance policy doesn’t cover you for damages.

Importance of a reliable backup strategy

Most accounting and tax firms have no formal written business plan, even though they recommend such plans to their clients. In an era in which tax preparers have increasing responsibilities for compliance and reporting, the ability to protect the data of clients – and prepare for when that protection fails – is a critical part of practice management.

Backup solutions can vary enormously and it is important to be aware of the consequences of choosing one solution over another. While many services provide excellent protection, some cover just data while others cover entire systems. Some enable faster recovery of your systems in the event of a major problem, while others ensure that your systems are safe from physical risks such as fires, floods or theft.

Conclusion

Good records management includes both backup and archiving. However, while these terms are often used interchangeably, it is important to distinguish between them when considering a records management process. Backup is used for data recovery, while archiving is used for preserving and retrieving data in the event of a disaster, inquiry or litigation. In simple terms, think of backup as short-term and archival as long-term. Data protection policies and legalities also need to be considered as some cloud backup solutions may not be suitable for US businesses due to where the data is ultimately stored.

We have built our disaster recovery solutions using latest solutions, which delivers all the capabilities you’d expect in a single, enterprise-ready solution. Once the right backup software solution is in place, it should protect existing VMs as well as new ones as they are created. Our solution will facilitate the auto discovery and protection of VMs while also giving IT administrators the flexibility to select the VMs organizations want to protect.

Our especially designed backup solution helps small to medium sized organizations meet RPOs and RTOs, save time, eliminate risks and dramatically reduce capital and operational costs. It is as organizations look for a backup software solution that meets these seven criteria of providing the highest levels of protection for VMs as it now offers protection for the entire IT infrastructure—be it physical Windows servers or any virtual machines.

We focus on building and designing the most appropriate infrastructure to meet the unique needs and characteristics of your individual business. Your data is too precious not to be protected by the best, most affordable and highly efficient data storage solution in the industry. Our solution is suitable for Modern Data Protection – Built for Virtualization and Private cloud solutions, without a big price tag.

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One comment on “Data Security and Backup for Accounting Firm

  1. StellarPhoenixS
    August 15, 2014

    Reblogged this on Stellar Phoenix Solutions.

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