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In this day and age, most people have heard about the need to take online security seriously, particularly in regards to their financial records and other sensitive information. But while you may have thought long and hard about this issue in regards to yourself and your company’s personal security systems, how much do you know about the safety measures your Austin area tax expert is using? Anyone with access to your financial records is a potential weak link in your security and should be vetted thoroughly for the appropriate safeguarding of your information.

Twice this year, the Internal Revenue Service has issued warnings to tax professionals about reviewing their security protocols after waves of cyber attacks targeting them occurred, in both April and October, right around IRS filing deadlines. These attacks gained access to individual financial information within the computer systems of tax professionals, manipulating both known weaknesses in software and frequently committed lapses in risk management and security.

Malicious hackers have been able to access sensitive information and file fraudulent tax returns by exploiting easy to avoid issues, and often the victims of such attacks had no idea they had occurred until filing reconciliations. Taking advantage of a number of common mistakes, such as neglecting to update software and not utilizing strong enough passwords, hackers gained access to client data using remote-in technology and e-filed false returns, directing the refunds to their own personal accounts.

Cyber Attacks and Tax ProfessionalsTo keep your information secure, you should make sure to do your own due diligence to anyone with access to your financial information. You can start by asking these basic questions:

  • What kind of security measures do they employ?
  • How often do they run scans for viruses or malware?
  • Do they keep both their company software and hardware password protected?
  • Do they use remote access programs, and if so, do they check the security settings on these frequently?
  • Do they keep abreast of security updates in their field, such as monitoring the IRS’s Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself webpage?

These questions may feel intrusive initially, but no one should feel bad for trying to keep themselves and their business safe.

Identity fraud has been one of the most rapidly growing areas of crime for years now. Millions of Americans are affected each year, and billions of dollars stolen from them in information security breaches. Don’t let your company become part of these unfortunate statistics; do your homework on anyone with access to your sensitive data. As thieves adapt to existing security measures and evolve new strategies for identifying and abusing weaknesses, anyone with access to valuable information must continually strive to stay ahead of them and keep that information protected.

Having a tax expert in Austin can be a tremendous benefit to you and your business, but make sure you choose someone who is ready, willing, and able to help you, and who won’t end up being another headache you have to deal with. Contact us today to see how we can help give you a boost and keep you safe and secure at the same time.

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