How to Keep Accounting Data Safe When Working from Home
What do you get when you cross work-from-home orders and highly confidential accounting data?
An opportunity to properly secure your sensitive accounting data from anywhere. The best part? It’s much easier (and cheaper!) than you think.
Read this to learn some easy tips you can put in place today to keep your accounting data safe and secure while employees are working from home.
How Secure is My Data?
It’s good to get this out of the way: your data can never be 100% secure. However, that’s no reason to panic and give up the fight! The point of creating a secure environment isn’t to completely eliminate all threats of data breaches.
Instead, creating security over your data helps make a hacker’s job difficult. If it’s too difficult to get into your software and the potential reward isn’t enough to justify all the effort, they’ll give up and move on.
In short, data security is meant to tire out hackers and make them give up their efforts of breaching your systems. Thankfully, we have several tips that can help you do just that.
Protect Data When Using Non-Company Devices
Using a device provided by your company is ideal. Likely, the device already has proper security measures setup with password-protection and timeout rules.
However, when you’re working from home, you might not have the option. Instead, you can work to make your personal devices more company-friendly. Use a firewall and high-quality anti-virus software to protect against threats when accessing your accounting data from home. Just make sure you’re not installing any illegal software of software from an untrusted source. It’s best to ask your IT professionals what your computer needs in order to be safe and secure.
If you don’t have a device at home and you can’t go to your office, you could be tempted to use a public device. That may mean a computer at a library or school of some kind. Avoid using public computers at all costs! Public computers are at a higher risk of keylogging software, which can record your passwords and login information as you’re typing it.
Password and Login Protection
It’s best if other family members aren’t allowed to use the devices that you’re using for your work. If that’s not possible, have a separate login for yourself. When you finish your work, make sure you’re logging out completely. As a rule, you should be logging out of any computer you use each time you’ve finished working.
When creating a login for yourself, create a strong password. Try not to use any personal details in your password and always mix in some special characters. Then, change your password regularly to keep it secure!
Creating a two-step verification, or two-factor identification, can help prevent unauthorized people from accessing your account. When you set it up, you’ll receive a text message each time someone tries to log into your account.
If you’re the one logging in, you can simply enter the code that you received via text message. However, if you didn’t request the code, you’ll need to change your password immediately.
Hint: Another great way to secure your data is to avoid storing or saving company passwords on your devices, just in case someone gains access to your device.
Secure Your Workspace
Do you have a designated home office space? If so, make sure it stays as secure as possible. At the end of your workday, close and lock the door. That’s especially important if you live with others, like roommates or children.
If you’re working from a public remote space or near a window, be cautious of your screen. Make sure your screen is facing away from where others may view your data.
Use Caution with Emails and Texts
Personal email accounts and cellphones aren’t as secure as what your company provides. Avoid forwarding any sensitive company accounting or financial data to your personal email account or texting sensitive financial information to others.
Instead, you can use company chat software or video conferencing software that has been approved by your IT team.
Email Phishing and Spoofing
Emails are a great way for hackers to get your sensitive data. Often, these emails look like they are from trusted sources. The email may state that your account needs to be updated, that you requested a password, or even that your account has been hacked!
Usually, there is a clickable link that will guide you to a website that appears legitimate. However, the website is really just recording the information as you’re typing, like your login credentials. Then, the hacker has everything they need in order to access your account.
Key tip: Don’t click links in emails that take you to a website and ask for credentials, even if the email looks like it’s from a business that you use. Instead, access the official website directly. If you’re unsure, contact the business directly using their phone number and ask if they sent the email.
Rely on Cloud Solutions
Cloud-based accounting software and cloud-based storage options can keep your data more secure. Using a cloud solution for data storage and accounting keeps confidential data off personal and local devices where they may be compromised. Instead, the information is stored securely in the cloud.
Cloud software is encrypted, meaning it’s very difficult for hackers to break into. Plus, you won’t have to worry about backing up the data or maintaining expensive firewalls and other high-cost security systems. Instead, you can lean on the security already provided by the software.
Be Cautious with Physical Documents
Printed documents are a work-from-home security nightmare - especially for accounting data! Most companies provide on-site paper shredders or confidential bins to protect sensitive information and encourage proper disposal. However, working from home doesn’t necessarily come with that luxury.
First, limit the number of documents you print. Make sure you truly need the document printed before putting it in physical form. Any printed documents with sensitive accounting data on them should be shredded immediately after use and should never be left lying around in an unsecured area.
If you don’t have access to a shredder, hold on to the documents in a secure place until you can dispose of them properly. That may mean taking them into work with you when you finally return and using the paper shredder or confidential bins.
Limit Access to Sensitive Data
Consider limiting your users’ access to financial data. With cloud-based accounting software, it’s easy to assign roles and responsibilities to each team member. Then, you can choose which functions they can perform and what kind of data they can see or change.
You can also consider restricting printing access. Instead, you can make documents with a lot of confidential information “read-only” and disallow some users from making changes or printing.
Consider Remote Privacy Training
During this time, working from home is essential to keeping businesses moving forward into the next decade. Consider offering a quick training program for your remote employees to help with security. Providing a refresher on how to keep accounting and other confidential data safe during this time can set your business up for success.
Consider addressing these points:
- Refresher on company data security policy
- Personal device policy updates: expectations around using personal devices
- Suspicious behavior reporting procedures and expectations
- Designate a company-wide data storage solution and procedure
- Remind employees not to store passwords or other sensitive information
- Enforce time-outs and encourage employees to sign-out of programs immediately after use
Many of us are longing to the days we get to gather around the water cooler again and talk about our kids’ weekend baseball games. But some people may continue working from home on a regular or semi-regular basis going forward.
Work-from-home orders don’t have to put your accounting data at risk. With these few tips, you can help keep your data secure and keep your business thriving as we move into a new normal. After all, adapting to an ever-changing environment is what business-ownership is all about!
Ready to move to a safer accounting system? Get a free trial with ZarMoney today!
We make it easy for you to switch to our cloud-based accounting software.