When it comes to working with your accountant or financial advisor, do you email confidential documents in PDF form back and forth?
Are you mailing important documents through the mail? Maybe you’re faxing them, thinking the data is safer.
With so much technology at our fingertips, it’s important to understand the risks you may be taking with more traditional tools, such as email, fax, and mail. In fact, you may be putting your company’s security at risk.
- Password Protection: Even if you’re using password-protected PDF files being sent via email, the interception risk is still very high. Then sending the document password in a second email does not provide additional security. It too is just as easy to intercept.
- Links. If you receive an email from a trusted source asking you to confirm information or take an action, check with the sender before completing the task. Also, check the links within the email by hovering over the link and verifying the link URL that is displayed usually in the lower corner of your screen. If the sender and the link do not match, it may be a security issue.
- Complexity. Creating a complex password on your email account is a best practice. Implement password policies and change requirements. Also, avoid writing the password on a sticky note and posting in your office.
Where is the company fax machine located? Is it in a public hallway or office location that anyone can access? If so, you are putting yourself at risk when sensitive documents may be coming into your location. Anyone can see, copy, or take it.
Also, most fax machines retain a record of sent or received faxes, phone numbers, pages, and date / time.
Consider prevention tactics.
- Locked or secure offices. If using a physical fax machine, consider keeping it a restricted area.
- Leverage electronic fax though email communications.
- Include firewalls and virtual private networks for virtual faxing.
It goes without saying that mailing sensitive and confidential documents should be a thing of the past. However, every year some clients request tax documents to be mailed to them, putting them and their company at risk. The chance of the mail being lost, stolen, or sent to the wrong address is small, but possible.
Working with a financial advisor and accounting firm that leverages online portals and cloud-based technology helps to reduce the risk.
When working with clients, we recommend the use of a cloud-based portal that not only helps us stay in compliance with state and federal regulations, but also provides and additional layer of security for your data and confidential information.
Benefits of Client Portals
Online, secure client portals are helpful when sending confidential and sensitive information to and from your financial advisor. In most cases, the portal is easy to use and accessible from an online location, requiring simply an Internet connection.
Best of all:
- Large files can be uploaded and stored with ease.
- File exchange from tools such as QuickBooks can be managed via the cloud.
- IRS reporting tools are allowing for electronic submission, which may be a requirement in the near future.
- It’s efficient. You have access to your data as soon as it’s uploaded, 24/7/365.
- Increased customer engagement. Because you can access the content easily and in real time.
Help keep your data secure by working with an accounting firm and professional that supports online file exchange and offers a secure client portal.
Download our 10 Benefit of a Client Portal to gain a better understanding of why we use a portal for our clients.
If you need help with securing your financial data, give us a call. We use a secure client portal to help minimize security risks for our clients.