Tax season is in full swing. This time of year, the unnecessary trouble you may encounter will either come from inside the business (internal factors) or outside the business (external factors). You have to worry about more than just the latter, which would include the cyberattacks and data breaches you hear about in the news, and also closely examine your practices and those of your employees.
There are simple things you can start doing right now in order to make this season go by more smoothly. The worst thing would be to see this information too late—after someone a data breach strikes, for instance.
Speaking of data breaches, did you know that over 4,000 hacks occur every single day using just ransomware alone? Ransomware is an attack which infects a system and holds data hostage. Because of the prevalence of attacks like this, many of our key tips pertain to cybersecurity. It’s a good idea to examine your business and its security practices piece by piece and as a whole.
Without further ado, here our top 10 tech tax tips (what a mouthful, huh?) :
- Use firewalls and antiviruses—This is just plain good advice, no matter what season it is. Cybercriminals see tax season as a perfect opportunity to try to hack business and individuals, so if you are currently risking it without these security features, it may be time to reconsider.
- Uses passphrases—Another great practice, regardless of tax season, but it’s worth considering for the same reasons. The FBI recently promoted the use of passphrases, which sidestep the traditional “complex” password criteria (one uppercase and one lowercase letter, one number, etc.) for a more secure, lengthy string of words. “FantasticYellowBowledHair,” their example, is easier to remember than a complex password and just as secure.
- Automate updates—Neglecting the updates of your website and software, even for a brief period of time, can have disastrous consequences. Developers are constantly releasing patches to, as the term implies, “patch” holes in the code, and the generally relate to security issues. Trusting employees to press “Update now” or schedule a time for updates regularly is risky and inconvenient. The best way to curtail this threat is to use remote maintenance tools offered by third-party help, like, for instance, a managed service provider. These tools push updates during off-hours, reducing risk and downtime—a win-win.
- Get professional support—On the same wavelength, it’s always a smart idea to enlist outside help when your organization lacks the resources or expertise it needs. Managed service providers are one affordable option when it comes to covering all IT issues, especially during tax time.
- Go with the best practices—As AT&T ads will tell you, “OK just isn’t good enough.” When it’s your organization on the line, you should only use the industry’s best practices. This will help you get your tax to-do list done quicker, improve your security, and help you serve your customers better.
- Encrypt your data and wireless network—Another no-brainer, but it’s important to check. The University of San Francisco provides a simple guide for checking if your hard drive is encrypted. Your wireless network should use the latest security features, too, and a guest network should never allow access to internal systems or files.
- Back everything up—This is the best defense against ransomware, as we recently discussed in another blog. When a ransomware or other attack occurs during tax season, losing access to critical data can ruin a business. Having the ability to reset to an earlier status is truly invaluable. Simple and tailor-made backup solutions are offered by many service providers.
- Find tech that works for you—Your hardware and software need to be something you can live with, otherwise you won’t use them. Make tax season a lot more manageable by using devices and applications you’re already comfortable with rather than ones you feel forced to us only in March and April. What’s more, these tools should be secure, easy to use, and have ample storage for your organization’s needs.
- Communicate with your accounting team—Your accounting team may very well be running around this tax season like chickens with their heads cut off. Help them out by listening. Follow tip eight by asking what they find easiest and invest in those tools rather than ones they won’t use.
- Stay compliant—It’s important to comply with all government regulations, especially at this time of year. This task can be overwhelming, so it’s a smart idea to turn to a service provider that has experience helping clients in your industry. When considering help, ask the candidate to show you their specific experience.
Following these tech tips will get you on the right track to avoiding serious losses from mistakes and attacks this tax season.
You may have noticed that many suggestions incorporate outside help, and that’s with good reason. Expertise is invaluable. Getting your tax security done right the first time is critical for your business. Think you might need some help? Let the trusted team at Machado Consulting explain how we can help make a plan that works for you. Reach us here or by phone at (508) 453-4700.