IRS Shares Tips On Data Protection With The Tax Service Industry

IRS Shares Tips On Data Protection With The Tax Service Industry

We exist in a day and age where personal information and identities are stolen everyday. And that’s just on a personal basis. In the business world, data protection is becoming a real hot button. But to know how to protect the sensitive data involved in your business, you have to know how cybercriminals accomplish their dirty work. Unfortunately, knowing isn’t enough. You have to put in place a security chain. And that involves enlightening your employees so that they won’t become your weakest link.

The IRS Weighs In On Data Security For Businesses

To improve data security, the IRS has suggested the following tips:

Terminated Employee Passwords

To prevent confidential information access, terminated employee passwords should be immediately deactivated.

Telecommuting Employee Policies

There should be special policies in place for telecommuting employees. These should require that workers use protective measures against unauthorized intrusions such as spyware and viruses; and include how they can safely store information remotely and how to securely access that information.

Training Programs

The basic steps that employees need to take to maintain the integrity, confidentiality, and security of customer information should be part of your training program. Included in these steps can be the following:

  • Should someone attempt to obtain customer information, the suspicious attempts should be reported.
  • If, over public networks, customer data is transmitted electronically, it should be encrypted.
  • In rooms and file cabinets were records are stored, everything should always be locked up.

Electronic Device Policies

The protection and appropriate use of electronic devices should be outlined in your company policies. This should include mobile phones and laptop computers. When not in use, devices should be stored securely.

Computer Screens

After a period of inactivity, computer screens should log employees out and require, in order to unlock the screen again, a password.

Strong Passwords

To access sensitive information, strong passwords should be required. The following are some suggestions for the increased strength of a password (these should all be combined in each password):

  • Symbols
  • Numbers
  • Lower and upper-case letters combined
  • Eight character minimum

Customer Information Access

You should limit the amount of customer information that an employee can access. If, for instance, an employee’s duties consist of responding to customer questions, the employee should only receive as much information from the customer’s file as they require in order to adequately execute their job.

Background Checks

If a prospective employee is going to have access to client information, before hiring that employee, you must conduct a background information check. Additionally, regarding handling customer information, an agreement to follow security and confidentiality standards should be signed by every new employee.

According to the IRS

Particularly in the case of spearfishing emails, but also in general, the dangers related to phishing emails should be communicated to all employees. Without meaning to, an innocent mistake by an employee could download malware or disclose crucial password information. Once that happens, client data can be stolen, and/or all office computers could be infected.

You can rest secure in the knowledge that, if TRAXPayroll is your payroll provider, your company’s information (be it the personal information of your employees, or company data) is safe and secure.