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Protect Yourself (and Your Customers) From Cybercrimes | Bellingham, MA CPA

Posted by Ann Irons, CPA

Aug 8, 2014 4:19:00 PM

belllingham-cyberTarget. Sony PlayStation. AOL. All are powerful corporations and brands with revenues in excess of billions, and yet all have fallen prey to security breaches, compromising their customers’ financial and personal information. Ouch. Maybe your business doesn’t bring in millions (at least, not yet) but it would be unwise to assume that the modest size of your company makes you invisible to similar threats. CPA Ann Irons, whose Bellingham, MA accounting office offers a variety of small business services, explains the importance of protecting your customers’ important data – and their trust.

Small Businesses Are at Risk

Although these incidents and others have been widely publicized, the truth is that most small-time criminals are more comfortable targeting smaller businesses than large corporations. In fact, a 2012 report shows that approximately 31% of all cyber attacks – criminal acts undertaken via the internet or another network – were aimed at small businesses with less than 250 employees. Worse yet, this was almost a 10% increase over the previous year.

Can You Prevent Cybercrimes?

Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed means of preventing 100% of cybercrimes against your small business. The good news is that you can take several steps to protect your information and that of your customers, and most are relatively simple and affordable. The more layers of protection you put into place, the less likely you are to lose the trust and business of your customers.

  • Do you store data on mobile devices, such as smartphones or tablets? If so, ensure that it is encrypted. You can also use a secured personal wireless network.
  • Determine what data you absolutely must have available for in-house use. Consider storing everything else in the cloud, where it is generally more secure than it would be on your laptop or PC. Remember to upload the data using a secure method, and verify all security measures in place with your cloud provider.
  • Invest in antivirus and malware software; don’t just rely on free trials and limited versions. It’s a worthy investment, even if it costs a few hundred dollars yearly.
  • Choose your passwords for security, not for convenience. Yes, it’s easier to remember your password when it’s a combination of your last name and birth date, but it’s also easier for criminals to gain access to your accounts. Use a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Do not use a single password for several websites and/or accounts.
  • If at all possible, avoid storing your client’s financial data on a personal computer or laptop. If this isn’t possible, use encryption.
  • Never conduct business in public using an unsecured wireless network. Starbucks, airports, and other popular Wi-Fi hotspots are particularly vulnerable to cybercrimes.
  • If you adopt a bring-your-own-device policy, it should be detailed, easy to understand, and made available to all employees.

Outsourced accounting and tax services for Bellingham businesses. To learn more about our accounting and bookkeeping services, or to request a consultation with Ann Irons, CPA, LLC, contact us at (508) 966-0700. We serve individuals, businesses, and real estate law firms in Bellingham, Mendon, Franklin, Milford, Woonsocket, and the surrounding areas.

Topics: Small Business Accounting

About Ann M. Irons, CPA LLC

ann_irons_head_shotAnn spent over 25 years in the financial service industry, gaining knowledge and experience that allows her to provide an array of tax, bookkeeping, and accounting services for her clients. Relying on a stringent code of ethics and a dedication to maintaining the highest industry standards, Ann works hard to ensure her clients receive the quality service they’ve come to expect. A member of AICPA and MSCPA, Ann has also had an article featured in the renowned publication, Banker and Tradesman. 

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