In our age of increasing technology, securing and protecting our personal information becomes more and more important and, sometimes, difficult. Even though I have talked about this issue in prior blogs, it’s important to revisit it occasionally.
This week, the IRS issued some suggestions to protect your information from online threats. Here’s what they recommend.
- Use security software. Security software (or anti-virus software) can protect your computer – and your data – from numerous threats posed by malicious programs, also known as malware. Many computers come with security software already installed. Make sure to turn it on. Set it for automatic updates to allow for protection against emerging anti-malware threats. Also, make sure you add security to all your digital devices, including your laptop, tablet and mobile phone.
- Use encryption software to protect sensitive data. If you keep sensitive financial data such as prior-year tax returns or important records on your hard drive, consider investing in encryption software to safeguard documents with password protection.
- Use strong passwords. Use strong passwords of 10 or more digits that include letters, numbers and special characters. Do not use the same password for all your accounts, especially your financial accounts. Change your passwords every few months. Create passwords not only for your online accounts but also for access to your computer for an added layer of protection.
- Avoid phishing emails. Never reply to emails, texts or pop-up messages asking for your personal, tax or financial information. A favorite tactic of cybercriminals is to pose as businesses, credit card companies or even the IRS and ask to update your account or divulge your Social Security number. Reputable companies never ask for sensitive data over unsecured channels.
- Back up your data. Periodically back up all the data on your computer via your protected cloud storage or a separate disk. If your data gets stolen or you suffer a disk failure, recovery is easy if you have routinely backed up your information.
- Protect your wireless network. If you use a residential wireless network connection, make sure you have a strong password protection for it. And, if you use public wi-fi, never share sensitive data. If a public wi-fi hotspot does not require a password, it probably is not secure.
For more information, contact us at [email protected] or 402-504-3497 or go to https://www.irs.gov/individuals/taxes-security-together.Judith Ackland has more than 26 years of experience in accountancy and financial planning, including seventeen years as a CFO of a diverse business. She started Crystal Financial in 2010 to help a wide array of individuals, families, and business owners better understand their finances and how good financial management could help them achieve their goals. Judith has an MA in Professional Accountancy from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln as well as a Certified Public Accountant Certificate and a Certified Financial Planner designation.