Technology created and widely adopted in the 21st century has undoubtedly made our lives easier. It means everyday activities like banking are far less tedious and time-consuming, and that complex, more specialised tasks, like managing a company’s finances, are simplified. However, along with the benefits of convenience and efficiency, comes an element of risk for all businesses making the most of the digital evolution.
This is according to Rich Preece, Global Leader of the QuickBooks Accountant Business, who notes that recent, widely publicised data security breaches – such as those involving Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and the South African Deeds Office – have placed the need for strict data security in the spotlight.
Preece says, “This does not just apply to big multinational corporations like Facebook. Data security should be non-negotiable for all businesses operating in the 21st century, including SMEs.”
“As technology evolves and the world becomes ever more digitised, cybersecurity firewalls and data security software need to be updated accordingly. Businesses of all sizes are adding to their client database on a daily basis and, if this personal information ends up in the wrong hands, these businesses will find themselves subject to financial repercussions, reputational damage, litigation, and investigations.”
“If the personal information of a company’s customer base is compromised, it is hard to restore public confidence – even after taking action to rectify the situation. This has a negative impact on an organisation’s long-term success as many existing customers lose confidence in the company and leave, and potential clients are scared off in fear that something similar might happen again in future,” he explains.
To mitigate the risk related to data security, Preece suggests all businesses consider the following:
1. Define what qualifies as ‘sensitive information’ for your business
It is impossible to protect something if you are not quite sure what you are meant to be protecting. Any data a business has on its customers, such as their banking or contact details, as well as any of the organisation’s own financial information and sales data should all be safeguarded from external threats (like cyber-attacks) and internal threats (such as data theft by a disgruntled employee).
2. Select the right data security tools and applications
In addition to regularly updating anti-virus and anti-malware applications, businesses should look into investing in online systems which promote secure data access. QuickBooks, for example, prioritises data protection when developing cloud accounting software such as the QuickBooks Online Accountant (QBOA), covering businesses with increased accounting efficiency and securing sensitive personal and financial data.
3. Monitor your wireless network security
While most people prefer to connect to the internet wirelessly and avoid unnecessary tangled cords, wireless networks are easier targets for criminals looking to hack into a company’s system. To mitigate this risk, it is advisable to double up on security – using the router’s strongest encryption standard and setting up a password for employees to log onto the company’s Wi-Fi.
“Businesses are not alone in their pursuit to protect their customers’ data, reputable suppliers of specialised services and software should be ahead of the game, offering their partnering organisations peace of mind that their data, and that of their own clients, will be kept safe,” Preece concludes.
Edited by Daniëlle Kruger
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