Keeping Accounting Data Safe

Accounting data contains some of the most confidential information about a business’s operations and clients. It’s imperative to keep accounting data safe no matter what accounting software a business uses. Use these tips to keep accounting data safe all year round.

Have a Contingency Plan

Before taking any steps to secure accounting data, it’s important for companies to establish a backup plan in case their protection systems fail. While it is uncomfortable to think about unauthorized access to financial data, this is a plan that needs to be developed in advance. Who do managers notify if they suspect that data has been accessed or compromised? Is the data backed up somewhere so it can be completely restored? Who, including customers, needs to be notified of the breach? Was the data encrypted? By establishing a plan, it’s clearer where potential weaknesses are and what’s at stake.

Keep Software and Hardware Updated

Software distributors issue updates and patches to help correct known vulnerabilities that hackers may exploit to infiltrate computer systems or other IT assets. It’s critical to keep software up to date and patched to have adequate protection. Updating or replacing hardware can also improve a system’s security by providing users with the latest technology and improved performance. Instead of storing data on an older external hard drive, determine if a newer model would offer more adequate protection and is worth upgrading to.

Set Up Internal Controls

Internal controls are policies a company puts in place to protect itself. This may include having users pick out a new, secure password every 90 days, using a physical lock to secure server rooms or a policy that dictates a complete inventory must be conducted every so often. Establishing internal controls doesn’t have to cost money or take a lot of time to implement. However, they can be highly effective in keeping accounting data safe from nosy employees or hackers.

Implement Segregation of Duties

Segregation of duties is an important aspect of any IT security plan, especially when it comes to financial data. Each employee should have clear and written job responsibilities. No employee should have so much control or access to accounting responsibilities that they are able to impact financial data.

For instance, an accounts payable clerk should not be able to enter vendors, write checks and process payments without any oversight. This situation would create a situation ripe for fraud and misconduct with financial information. Instead, these responsibilities should be separated and given to different employees in order to limit an individual employee’s access to the complete financial picture. This reduces fraud risk and maintains the integrity of financial data.

Avoid Convenience if It Means Compromising Security

Sometimes vendors lure in companies by the convenience of a software program. Maybe it’s a program that automatically connects data from bank accounts to a smartphone app. While this program might be secure, it’s important to ask about the app’s security measures to determine if it’s really worth the security risk. If convenience compromises security in any way, it’s not worth it. It’s better to spend an extra few minutes completing a task if the quicker and easier way is deemed less secure.

It is imperative for companies to keep financial data safe. Otherwise, these companies may face challenges. By using these tips to increase overall IT security, accounting data will be safer.