The April 15 deadline is fast approaching, so those that have waited until the last minute could be in line for quite the scramble once they start doing their taxes. While a variety of online applications and services have emerged to offer customers considerable convenience, Pedro Hernandez wrote on Small Business Computing that data security still needs to be top of mind for all involved in the preparation process.
"Scammers work overtime to turn this yearly ritual into a nightmare for entrepreneurs and mom-and-pop shops," he wrote. "Crooks have caught on to the fact that big money and a whole lot of personal information pours across the Internet as small and midsized businesses (SMBs) gear up for tax season. Financial data, earnings forms, tax filings… all make tempting targets for nefarious people looking to make a quick buck off your hard-earned success."
Hernandez laid out some tax data security tips for small companies trying to stay as safe as possible, including:
- Always use tax software that has a good reputation as unknown upstarts may not have the experience to detect and deflect all threats
- Be aware that criminals will try to fool people into falling for phishing attempts
- Secure the company's network and data as well as possible with quality security software and policies
- Apply browser, operating system and application patches to be sure that there are no lingering holes that attackers can easily exploit
- Back up data as often as possible in case anything does get lost. This should lessen the blow of any breach that may occur
IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said filing online is a safe, easy way to do taxes, but Net-Security.org said companies cannot let their guard down when putting all of their most personal financial information on the internet.
"If you're planning to use the Internet to e-file tax returns – or even to prepare your information for yourself or your accountant using online tools – remember that your files contain personally identifiable information; in the hands of the wrong person, it's more than enough needed to steal your identity," the website said.
Tips for better online data safety from Net-Security include making sure passwords are changed frequently and complex enough to keep criminals at bay, be extra vigilant about spammers, phishers and other fake-email scams and always remember that something that looks too good to be true almost certainly is.
Data Security News from SimplySecurity.com by Trend Micro