While running a virtual bookkeeping firm has many benefits to both clients and bookkeepers, having client information stored digitally can present many challenges. Cybersecurity risks are on the rise and lots of business owners are worried about threats to both them and their clients.
Keeping your client information secure is a vital part of your job. After all, your clients trust you to keep their information safe and secure, whether it’s stored in a filing cabinet or in the cloud. Because running a virtual bookkeeping firm produces some unique obstacles for bookkeepers, we’ve put together a list of five ways you can protect your clients no matter where you’re working from.
Don’t collect more than you need and be transparent
When it comes to collecting and storing sensitive client information, you should never keep more than is absolutely necessary. Make sure that your clients know exactly why you are collecting each piece of information that you do, how it will be stored, and what strategies you are using to keep them and their data safe. This is also an important thing to keep in mind when it comes to parting ways with clients. You want to make sure you aren’t keeping any client information after you and said client have parted ways. Your offboarding process should always include erasing any client data you have tucked away.
Encryption is one of the best ways to protect client information at your bookkeeping firm. Basically, encryption is kind of like invisible ink. It turns information into a code that you need a key to decipher. This can be especially helpful for things like payment information. We recommend investing in good encryption software and keeping it updated.
Try out a password management tool
Using the same password for everything is bound to get you into some trouble; likewise, having lots of simple passwords can also lead to your data being less protected. You should be creating a new password every time you need to use one AND they should be strong. You can strengthen passwords by adding special characters, using passphrases, and avoiding passwords that include personal information. With so many passwords that are difficult to remember, you might be wondering how you can keep them all straight. A password manager might come in handy here. Password managers store all your passwords AND help you to generate new ones that are safe and secure.
Limit who can access client data
Not everyone at your firm needs access to information about every single client. Did you know that staff is one of the biggest threats to cybersecurity at your firm? Now, most employees are going to have bad intentions. It’s just a failure to use best practices that can result in an error. Using unsafe servers or not storing passwords safely, for example, can create a big security risk. By limiting access to data to only those who really need it, you can minimize a lot of those security risks.
We know, we know – it seems like every day there’s something that needs updating. It can be easy to ignore notifications about software updates and put them off until later. However, promptness might save your clients’ data. When most software companies find bugs in their programs, they patch them up and send out an updated version of the software. By ignoring updates, you could find yourself vulnerable to the very problems they’ve just fixed.
Your clients trust you to keep their information safe and secure, whether it’s stored in a filing cabinet or in the cloud. The good news is that data security isn’t rocket science – as long as you follow some basic rules when it comes to storing, accessing, and protecting information, the chances of data theft at your virtual bookkeeping firm become a lot slimmer.