If the recent revelation that the data breach in the IRS's Get Transcript app was much bigger than originally thought didn't scare you, you're not paying enough attention.
In case you missed it, it turns out that the 100,000 taxpayers who were originally thought to be affected by the data breach have been joined as many as 390,000 others whom the IRS thinks might be affected. (See "Extra 220,000 Hit by IRS 'Get Transcript' Breach") You can bet that when many of those taxpayers get the warning letter from the IRS, the first person they're going to call is their tax preparer. (For ideas on what to say if someone calls you on the subject, read "Into the Breach: What Preparers Tell Clients About ID Theft.")
The fact is that hacking and identity theft are on the rise -- major companies seem to be hit every day, and tax preparers reported an explosion in the number of clients who were subject to tax-related ID theft this year -- while plain old viruses continue to destroy PCs or just cause computer performance to deteriorate. The tools you use every day, and all the data they produce about you and your clients, are constantly vulnerable in ways that are hard to imagine, and harder still to recover from.
The good news is that there are some easy things you can do to protect yourself -- and that accounting firms are starting to do them, according to research we did with the Accounting Today audience in conjunction with ADP. You can see the results in the handy infographic below.
The important thing is to be proactive -- start by comparing yourself to the firms in the infographic to see if your security practices are up to par. If they're not, start implementing some of the practices mentioned right away. (My personal favorite way to start is with strong passwords/passphrases -- they're easy to generate and will immediately improve your security immeasurably.