Secure File Sharing: How To Manage Security During Tax Season
When you think tax season, you don’t automatically think security. You don’t automatically think about file sharing or esignatures or even how you’ll safely share a set of files with your latest customers.
But in today’s world, the two can go hand-in-hand if you run a tax accounting firm. As accountants, the nature of the data you’re dealing with on a daily basis is sensitive, and, unfortunately, it’s also prone to special attention by hackers and malicious attacks.
Here’s where you want to concern yourself with secure file sharing. As an accountant dealing with clients, the last thing you need is a data breach to complicate things and add work to your already full plate.
Safeguarding taxpayer data: the basicsAs an accountant, one thing you need to do is to ensure you’re complying with FTC security guidelines as outlined by the IRS. Click To Tweet
Unfortunately, safeguarding against what hackers have the capability to do these days isn’t a one-and-done job.
You have to be on the lookout for vulnerabilities through link sharing, emails, or even esignature requests. According to the IRS, approaching secure file sharing with a plan starts with:
- Protecting both yourself and your clients
- Being alert
- Reporting data loss in case of breaches
- Complying with FTC rules
The IRS advises that you create a written contingency plan so that you aren’t caught by surprise when a data breach does happen. This might look like an easily accessible digital wiki or simple document that every employee can read.
They also advise that you:
- Encrypt any and all sensitive information
- Go out of your way to always use strong passwords
- Destroy old harddrives as well as computers that are no longer in use
- Limit access to sensitive taxpayer data within your organization
- Install anti-virus security software
Thankfully, employing the help of a few simple tools can really decrease your chances of falling victim to data breaches. You don’t have to be left vulnerable to cybercriminals when there are plenty of accounting-specific tools at your disposal to help mitigate data leaks. We walk through a few additional ones below.
Did you know that if you’re sending files through email without any security you’re breaking a law? No doubt your accounting workflow—which includes file sharing—needs to be insured because of the constant stream of sensitive client information that’s being fed through it.
File sharing is an important piece of the puzzle here. The problem is that some clients don’t particularly enjoy working with a client portal. They would rather have a more direct way of receiving files and information.
This is where an alternative filing option like ImagineShare can come in handy. ImagineShare is designed to encrypt any files you send directly to your clients, without the need for a client portal if that isn’t their preference. With an encrypted email platform, you can feel safe about sharing files and communicating safely with your client base.
While there might be alternative options out there—like Dropbox—it’s constantly having trouble with data breaches. While there is some encryption that’s integrated into their system, they aren’t specifically built for accountants to safely manage client data. Its approach is built for more general file sharing. Still, it’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons of using any file sharing software and the possible issues that may come with it.
Have you considered the data implications of links and what they could mean for possible data breaches? The basic precautionary steps apply here.
You never want to open any suspicious embedded links in an email and you want to get familiar with phishing emails. That way, you can take precautions when they do arrive in your inbox and you don’t open them and delete them instead.
One of the most common places where accounting firms are bound to send unsecured links is through email. While email is an effective way to communicate basic information with your clients, you don’t want to use it to send sensitive tax data of any sort.
It’s important to remember that hackers and cybercriminals don’t necessarily decide to target your firm due to how big or successful it is. Rather, they’re constantly looking for any vulnerabilities they can exploit. This is why something as simple as file sharing and link security has to be treated with the utmost care.
The more you pay attention to detail, the better protected you’ll be. It’s even better when you’re able to deploy software that does all this in the background for you—which is what ImagineTime’s full suite of tools was built for—including the ability to safely and effectively collect digital signatures from clients.
Electronic signatures and e-sign flow
With Mango you can capture legally binding esignatures over the internet effectively and safely. Though at first glance this might seem like yet another security vulnerability, it’s actually a safe way to collect signatures from clients faster.
The signer’s identity can be authenticated by using key identifying factors including:
- Their unique IP address
- Browser information
- Time and date stamps
Doing this, however, requires using safe software that’s designed to take note of each of these factors. ImagineTime’s esignature module was designed with exactly that in mind.
While client portals make our list in terms of what you can do to safeguard taxpayer information, the reality is that a lot of your customers won’t bother to sign in to their respective client portals.
They either don’t have time, think it’ll be too technical to deal with, or they forget they have the option. It’s why it’s necessary to have other means of communicating with them if the client portal isn’t their first choice.
Ensure security with ImagineTime
In today’s rapidly evolving world, you want all the data security measures you can get. Mango was built with security in mind for both the accounting firms and the customers they serve.
It’s not enough to simply offer a service and call it a day. Today, customers want peace of mind and end-to-end services that satisfy their need to feel safe when they entrust their sensitive accounting data to your expertise.
Unfortunately, every client is different and not all of them are perceptive to the latest tech, security, or password features. Mango was built with them in mind too. Our multifaceted approach to file sharing makes it so that you’re able to easily cater to the needs of all types of clients while you do what you do best: accounting.
As a file sharing tool within the bigger Mango ecosystem, ImagineShare is built for ease-of-use without sacrificing quality and security.
Get started with ImagineTime’s suite of accounting tools and request a demo here.
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