A guide on how to protect your financial data

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For many accounting firms and businesses, financial data leaks are a significant problem. If your company’s sensitive financial information is not safe and secure, you can suffer financial and intellectual losses, brand damage and even lost customers.

Unfortunately, many companies are still struggling with securing their sensitive financial information. A recent survey found that 35% of consumers do not trust organizations to adequately protect their sensitive information, and 45% say they will not do business with an organization that has suffered a cyberattack.

Keeping your customers’ data safe can be difficult, especially if you don’t know where to start. In this blog post, we will discuss some tips on how to keep financial information safe.

What is sensitive financial information?

Sensitive financial information is data attached to an individual or company in relation to their monetary transactions. It is important to classify your company’s data because their level of sensitivity can vary. For example, if your company name, location, or number of employees is compromised, you may not see any consequences. However, your business will suffer if your income, loans, customer data, or bank details are leaked.

The most sensitive financial information includes:
  • Credit card numbers

  • bank account information

  • Social security numbers

  • Transaction and revenue information

  • Passwords or Personal Identification Number (PIN)

After identifying the most critical data to secure for your business, the following tips will help you protect it.

4 ways to secure your company’s financial information

Check out these helpful ways to get started protecting your financial data:

1. Create strong passwords and change them often

To start, create strong passwords that are hard to remember. Passwords are the most likely way for others to gain access to your sensitive financial data. A strong password protects your data against unauthorized access. Changing your password regularly, preferably every three months, also helps protect your information because it’s harder for someone to hack into your system.

To create a strong password, you must:

  • Use a unique password containing symbols, numbers and letters.
  • Avoid using birthdays, names and next of kin or any information readily available from your records.
  • Use different passwords on different accounts and websites.
  • Do not save your passwords on your computer.

You can also use password managers capable of generating alphanumeric passwords and storing them in an encrypted vault.

2. Use multi-factor authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is an additional layer of security used to confirm a user’s identity by requiring additional information beyond the password.

This level of security is essential if your password has been compromised in a data breach. Even if an attacker learns your password, they won’t be able to access your account because they don’t have the second factor, which is usually a text message code.

Multi-factor authentication is implemented in various ways, including the use of hardware tokens, one-time passcodes (OTPs), and push notifications. Some software has built-in MFA, while others require you to use a third-party method.

3. Update your software regularly

Your electronic equipment, like computers and phones, probably contains some of your most sensitive financial information. If you don’t update your software (which includes applying security patches that fix vulnerabilities), you’re leaving your business open to hackers.

By regularly updating your software, you reduce the risk that your company is exposed to software security vulnerabilities. There should be a company-wide policy to update all software within a reasonable period of time.

Another way to implement this is to use a centralized software management system that can be used to trigger an update on workplace devices.

4. Be careful with your emails

Email correspondence is one of the most common methods used to steal sensitive financial information from companies. To do this, attackers send phishing emails that appear to come from a legitimate source, such as your bank. When you open the email and click on the link, you are redirected to a fake website that looks like the real one. Attackers can then use this opportunity to steal your login credentials or infect your device with malware.

It is important to train all employees to be able to identify phishing emails. They should also know how to report suspicious emails so you can take appropriate action.

Four things employees need to know:

  • Never open attachments from unknown senders.
  • If an attachment looks suspicious, even if it is from a known sender, you should contact the sender to confirm that they sent it.
  • Be careful when clicking on links in emails. If you are unsure of a link, you can hover your mouse over it to see where it takes you.
  • Never respond to emails asking for your personal or financial information, even if they seem legitimate.
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