All too often I get an email with some scary information. It’s from a client and attached is a legal or tax form. Buried on page four is their full name, date of birth, and social security number. At this point if either of us is hacked or using an unsecure internet connection their information is public. I advise clients not to send sensitive information over email, but it’s easy to slip up.
A huge risk for businesses today is how much we rely on technology. It’s a blessing and a curse. Technology continues to become an ever more integral part of our lives, so it is incumbent upon us to stay safe while using it. The possibilities that technology offers are well worth the rewards, so let’s manage the risks. First, we will cover how to transfer data securely and second, what data should be transferred via these means.
To mitigate the risks, there are few systems I use to securely share information. Email is not one of them. I use other programs and apps that understand security is paramount for whatever we are exchanging. These programs are developed by companies that have teams of software engineers.
To securely shared documents I use two primary tools. The first is Hubdoc, a program which allows you to safely forward emails and upload photos from any device. Hubdoc is great because it syncs with QuickBooks Online so you have the documentation to support business expenses. This helps at tax time! It also helps you communicate with your accountant! The second tool I use often is Google Drive. Similar programs like Dropbox, Google Drive is a cloud storage product. When I need sensitive information that is not well suited for Hubdoc, I create a Google Drive folder and share it with a client. They can then upload and download documents to the shared folder.
I like these two apps because they use bank-level and cutting-edge security. They are constantly updating the security as technology evolves. While a hacker could potentially hack their systems and steal your data, any physical files are also susceptible to real-life robberies and natural hazards like fires and floods.
Now what is the type of data that you should exchange via these secure means? The main documents are tax returns, articles of legal formation, banking and credit card information, sensitive personal information like a social security number. Many business owners share passwords with their accountant. Do not email that information! Use a more secure means. If you think something may critical or proprietary information, share it in a more secure way. Before you hit send on an email, review its contents and attachments.
For any business owner I strongly emphasize to follow this guidance when communicating with your accountant. A good rule of thumb is if you don’t want the whole world to know, you shouldn’t send it over it email. So, let’s not send files over email, okay?