However, if you have to keep your clients data on your computer then, as a CPA, you are responsible to keep it safe. Here are some steps that can help ensure just that.
Be cautious. The number one way to stop threats is to be cautious of content and verify before proceeding. Despite all the anti-virus software, security patches, firewall and more the user is the weakest link. When you look at engaging with the Internet on a daily basis it should become habit to question most everything that you see.
Firewall, security patches, anti-virus software. The gateway to being online is through your Internet connection so you should have an up to date Firewall, security patches, and anti-virus software. The key is to be up to date and make a habit of manually checking these on a regular basis rather than relying upon automatic updates.
Put it in your calendar to check each of these every two weeks at least, it doesn’t take that long and is worth it to prevent potential risks. How you check these manually is different for each and may take longer the first time you do it but become second nature later.
Email. Attachments that you get,even if you know the user, are always potentially dangerous. Do you really need to open it? If not just delete it. Otherwise understanding what it is you are opening is key. If it is an executable file, see executable file extensions, then you won’t want to open it at all.
Any email can look like it is coming from a legitimate source. Instead of clicking through on anything from the email, go directly to the company or person based on what you have in your personal records. The extra time you take to do this can save you a huge amount of headaches later.
Know the root of scams. You can get these type of requests via the Internet, phone or the mail. In all cases instead of responding to the request via the information given, go to the source via your own records, or a third party like the phone book for example.
Most scams work by enticing users go to what they think is a legitimate place of business online when in actuality they are not. Often times requests for data verification is attempted and then that stolen information is used to acquire sensitive information or your full identity.
Common scams to be weary of.
- You won the lottery in a far off land!
- Your website domain is about to expire.
- Your credit card company needs to update your information.
Always use your own records to call the person back and verify it’s a legitimate request rather than ever giving any information to another person online.
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