Tax season 2021 is messy. The coronavirus pandemic has created additional complications in an already stress-filled time for small business owners as they deal with coronavirus-related staffing issues, stimulus relief ramifications as well as often outdated IT systems.
What could be the ultimate complication? A cybersecurity attack on their business. But there is a solution: the best defense is a good offense, and there are many preventive steps to take.
Small business owners have had more on their plate than ever this last year; foremost, they are just trying to keep the doors open. Filing very complicated 2020 taxes will not only be a challenge but also open them up to data breach harm. Employees and business owners have to work together to keep their businesses safe. At Progressive Tech we specialize in hands-on IT solutions for small businesses to ease that burden
A study by Accenture estimates that 43% of all cyber-attacks are on small businesses and additional estimates state that about sixty percent of small companies go out of business within six months of a data breach or cyberattack. Tax filings make companies particularly vulnerable to a data breach due to uncertainties over filing processes.
According to the IRS, “Business identity thieves file fraudulent business returns to receive refundable business credits or to perpetuate individual identity theft.” There has also been a sharp spike in data breaches and hacks from State and Federal databases including the unemployment hack where scammers siphoned $36B in fraudulent unemployment payments from US, as well as third party credit reporting services.
If companies survive a data breach financially, they deal with other challenges like brand and reputation damage. Once a ransomware attack starts, it is already too late to stop it. The solution is to do preventative work ahead of time to keep your company safe.
First and foremost, IT security is everyone’s job. All employees need to be on the cybersecurity team. Here’s what employees need to do:
- Create robust passwords and employ two-factor authentication. Passwords should be hard to guess and kept confidential. It’s also crucial to use different passwords for different accounts.
- Avoid phishing tactics. Don’t open mail attachments from an untrusted source.
- Don’t install unauthorized software. Always check with IT first.
- Remember that Wireless is inherently insecure. Using an unsecured public WIFI connection enables hackers to position themselves between you and the connection point, so use a private hotspot, or find a location with WIFI secured by a strong password.
- Be vigilant. Immediately report suspicious activity to your management.
What Small Business Owners need to do:
- Deploy a Firewall. Firewalls manage access to all incoming and outgoing data.
- Protect company email. This is an easy way for hackers to get into your system. Use a reputable provider you can trust.
- Have a maintenance plan. Keep all anti-virus and malware prevention software up-to-date.
- Create an incident response plan. Know who to contact and what to do if a cybersecurity threat occurs.
- Consider outsourcing. Many small to mid-size businesses fall victim because they lack sufficient security measures and trained personnel.
Security breaches can happen at any time, and cyber breaches related to taxes are incredibly devastating. By turning to a trusted provider of security solutions, businesses can equip themselves with a customized solution tailored to their specific security needs.