Slideshow 10 Habits That Threaten Your Firm’s Data Security

  • October 04 2016, 11:51am EDT
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Why you're part of the problem

Just as it takes two to tango, it takes two to create a data breach: a determined hacker and a careless employee – and unfortunately, all too many of us are careless in our data security habits.

Benoy Tamang, CEO of document management provider eFileCabinet Inc. ( shared 10 of the most common bad habits – common practices that accounting firms, with the wealth of valuable client data they’re responsible for, can ill afford.

(A text version of this slideshow is available here.)

1. Sharing passwords

It may not seem like a big deal to share your password with a coworker that you’re close to, but even if that person is completely trustworthy, someone else may overhear you. You should always keep your passwords completely confidential. 

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2. Using identical passwords 

While it’s definitely easier to remember one password for all of your accounts, using an identical password makes it easier to hack every account you have. If you need to, get a password app to keep all your passwords safe, and use a different one for every one of your accounts.

3. Using unsecure Internet Connections 

Getting work done at the airport or while you’re sitting at your local Starbucks may seem like a good idea at first, but if you have confidential information on your device, it is a serious data security risk. Public Internet connections make your information accessible to anyone who has the know-how to access it. 

4. Not purging files 

Some documents that contain sensitive information eventually become obsolete or outdated. When this occurs, it’s important that you purge the files from your system. The longer these documents are on your computer, the more likely it becomes that they’ll be compromised.

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5. Using unencrypted USB drives 

It’s quick and easy to grab a USB drive and save some files to it before you leave the office. But it’s important that you ensure that the drive you’re using is encrypted. If you were to lose an unencrypted drive, anyone who found it could access the information you stored. 

6. Leaving computers unattended 

When it comes to confidential data, you shouldn’t leave your computer unattended for even a moment. It only takes a few seconds for someone to grab your laptop and run, or to copy some information off of your screen. Always keep your laptop within easy reach when in a public area. 

7. Not reporting lost equipment 

When you lose a work-related device — whether it’s a laptop or a USB drive — you may be tempted to keep it quiet to avoid any repercussions. (Or you may just think it’s not that big of a deal.) It’s important that you report any lost devices so that your firm can take measures to protect the data that was contained on those devices. 

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8. Not using privacy screens 

Whether you’re at work or working remotely, it’s important that you use privacy screens when working on confidential documents. Any time you step away from your computer, lock it with a privacy screen so that passersby can’t see the information you are working on.

9. Using personal mobile devices 

It’s common practice these days to connect your mobile device to the wireless network at work. But if that connection can access private information, it should only be accessed with secure devices. Your smartphone does not have the security necessary to protect your firm’s and your clients’ data and maintain compliance. 

10. Carrying unnecessary info when traveling 

When you’re traveling for business, it’s essential that you have access to the files and information that you need. However, you should never have more files than are absolutely necessary for your trip. If your laptop becomes lost or is compromised in some other way, every file on the computer is now at risk; the fewer files stored on the computer, the better.