On May 26 2015, the IRS announced that 104,000 Americans’ personal tax information had been hacked out of the IRS website. These Americans had their personal information leaked elsewhere online which hackers gathered. Using the personal information and the IRS’s online tool that allows taxpayers to download past tax returns, the hackers were able to grab financial identity information from these persons.
This IRS data breach is another in a long line of government-related security breaches and hacks that we have seen the past year. While the online tool to grab past tax returns has been taken down, according to Huffington Post, public trust in the IRS is at an all-time low. The public wonders who they can trust with their personal information.
Looking at this IRS data breach shows the importance of data security and how government agencies are lacking in modernization. With proper encryption, authentication and monitoring services to stop suspicious activity, these agencies could have a digital strategy that keeps personal data protected even with offering online services.
It is important NOT to follow in the footsteps of the government lagging in the latest cybersecurity practices. There are a few changes you can make to your business now to ensure your customers’ personal information is protected so they never lose trust in your business in the event of a data breach.
Create a Data Management Plan
The biggest issue with the IRS data breach was they didn’t notice there had been a breach of over 100,000 citizens’ data until after tax season. Hackers knew to strike when they were too busy with usual tax season processing where they wouldn’t notice oddities in the online tax return request. This leads us to this conclusion – how will you know when you have had a data breach if you don’t know where your data is?
Creating a data management plan will allow you to organize your data from multiple platforms and locations into one large digital file system. The easiest and most secure way to do this is the cloud. Organizing data in the cloud allows for an easier understanding of what is where and provides multiple encryption and authentication levels to keep your data safeguarded.
Create Security Access Levels
You don’t need every employee to have access to the same sensitive customer and business data. Only allow employees access to the data that is relevant to their job role. You should also perform regular security audits to ensure employees are not tampering or taking data.
Sometimes employees do not realize they are putting data at risk. They might download some documents to their personal device so they can work at night or on vacation. This puts your business data at high risk on an unsecured device. Create best practices for how data can be used and extensively train employees on the regulations and importance of staying secure.
Create a Data Security Plan
Much like you have emergency exits, a data security plan is something every person in your business can go to when disasters happen. Assign responsibility to various staff members on regular security and data backup tasks they need to be performing at regular intervals. Also assign people on your team dump and protection tasks in case of a data breach so everyone knows what to do and acts immediately to protect data.