How Small Businesses Can Keep Their Financial Data Secure

How Small Businesses Can Keep Their Financial Data Secure

It may be obvious that good small business owners must maintain detailed financial records for their company.   

But great small business owners know they must keep those financial records safe and secure! After all, robberies are rarely masked men with dollar-sign sacks anymore: most theft occurs invisibly online.    

So how do you keep your sensitive financial data locked up tight? In this blog, we’ll break down what information you need to be protecting and reveal our top tips for how to boost your financial cybersecurity.  

What Financial Information Needs Protecting?  

You should always keep careful records of your company information, but all company info isn’t created equal. If your operation location, employee count, or business goals were leaked, you likely wouldn’t suffer any consequences. However, the following information should be kept completely confidential: 

  • Passwords 
  • Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) 
  • Social security numbers (SSN) 
  • Income, revenue, transaction, or loan information  
  • Bank account information 
  • Credit card numbers  

All of the above information is high risk, and must be safeguarded as such. After all, it can be financially devastating if your negligence leads to fraud or identity theft for your company, employees, or customers! 

Tips to Keep Your Financial Data Secure  

Luckily, there’s a lot you and your employees can do to keep your financial information safe and sound. Here are vital tips you can use to make sure your sensitive data is well protected.  

1.Choose Strong Passwords that Change Often 

It’s always tempting to make a password that’s infinitely memorable, but if you find yourself toying with the idea of using your birthday, the street you live on, or 12345 (yikes!) — just don’t. The easiest thing you can do to secure your sensitive data? Create long, strong passwords that are hard to guess. A few tips for creating strong passwords:  

  • Use letters (lower and upper case), numbers, and symbols 
  • Don’t use any names or references that could be easily guessed or discovered (i.e. your partner’s name, your pet, your old high school — anything somebody could guess from an anecdote.) 
  • Use different passwords for different accounts and websites. This way even if one gets hacked, all your information isn’t compromised.  
  • Although it’s tempting and convenient, don’t save your passwords to your computer. Input them yourself every time.   

Once you’ve got a strong password, don’t get attached. Changing your password regularly (ideally every three months), is another savvy way to secure that sensitive data.   

Does this all sound like a huge headache? You can also use a password manager! Password managers generate strong alphanumeric passwords and then encrypt and remember them for you.

 2.Use Multifactor Authentication  

If you’re looking for an extra level of security when inputting a password, you should implement multifactor authentication (MFA). MFA requests a second piece of information beyond just a password when trying to sign into an account — usually a one-time text message or email code.   

This way, even if your password is compromised, an attacker can’t access your account without that second piece of authentication. Some software has built-in MFA options while others require you to use a third-party method or app. 

3. Be Careful with Online Correspondence  

Email is one of the primary ways hackers access information. “Phishing” emails may seem to come from a legitimate source (such as your bank) but when you open the email or click on a link, it typically takes you to a fake website. If you put your bank info into the totally-real-not-at-all-a-trick ”Bank-0f-America” website instead of the authentic BOA, you’re sunk.   

Be suspicious of anything that looks out of the ordinary online or in your inbox. If you’re not sure? Don’t click. It’s better to be safe than to handle the fallout when malicious parties steal your sensitive information.  

Pro tip: There are certain organizations (like the IRS and Social Security Administration) that will never contact you via email. If you’re getting texts or calls from these places, you know they’re a scam.  

Here are some additional tips to stay safe in your online correspondence:   

  • Don’t open attachments from unknown senders. If an employee sends you an unexpected attachment, ensure it’s really coming from them with a follow-up call. 
  • Don’t click on links from unknown senders. If you’re not sure about a certain link, you can also hover over it before clicking to see a preview of where it’s going to take you.  
  • If anything at all seems suspicious in your correspondence, contact the sender and ask them to confirm that they sent the email, attachment, etc.  
  • Don’t reply to emails that ask for personal or financial information without confirming the identity of the sender.   

4. Update Your Software Regularly 

Who among us doesn’t love to hit “remind me tomorrow!” when an update pops up? Putting off a software update feels good short term…but long term, the consequences can get gnarly.   

Software gets updated for a reason — often, companies have identified an oversight in their program and need to apply new security patches that make you less vulnerable to hackers. The longer you delay updating, the more time hackers have to exploit that outdated security flaw.   

You can also utilize a centralized software management system which triggers updates on workplace devices.  

5. Make Backup Copies 

It’s bad enough to find your sensitive information has been copied, but even worse to discover that your information is gone. Lost or altered financial records can wreak absolute havoc on your business, and that’s why making backup copies is essential. You can set your data to backup automatically, and should make weekly backups and store them off site or in the cloud.  

6. Train Your Employees 

All of these measures are fantastic ways to stay safe…but they mean bupkus if you’re the only one in the company doing them. Make sure your employees are all trained on up-to-date cybersecurity policies. It doesn’t matter who makes the mistake; one person acting unsafely can jeopardize all your information. Include cybersecurity training in your onboarding processes and set your team up for success.   

Protect Your Financial Information with a Trustworthy Accountant 

Need accounting help with the detailed financial records you’re working so hard to protect?  Know Your Numbers Accounting offers top-notch accounting services specifically catered to support small businesses. Schedule a free consultation to chat about your business’s needs and to get access to sample financial statements today!   

Any lingering worries or stress dreams about cybersecurity? Let us know your questions in the comments below!  

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