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Keeping passwords, data, treasury management secure for Utah businesses

With the start of the new year, thoughts turn to business and personal taxes, but there are also considerations as 2020 begins that go beyond profit and loss, extending into the realm of cybersecurity.

The Office of Homeland Security is teaming up with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to help businesses with data protection and password security. As part of this effort, First Utah Bank is sharing some valuable info from those government agencies to keep you cyber-safe as the new year gets its start.

One way that you can stay secure is through treasury management, and your hometown financial experts at First Utah Bank have got your back in that regard. There are many methods we can suggest to manage your cash position, all with safety at the forefront.

Planning your passwords and how it can help

Although there are safeguards that tax preparers themselves can put into place — and we’ll go into those later in this article — there are also some ways those same tax business people are sharing the knowledge that anyone can use to practice good cyber safety. That’s through strong passwords for your website and online accounts.

We know that the rules on passwords and what constitutes a safe one change from time to time, and that’s for a good reason. As cyber criminals adjust to try and get more passwords, the prevention methods must also change.

For instance, it’s now considered a better standard to pick words or phrases that are easy for the individual user to remember instead of just a string of random numbers and characters. This is so you don’t physically write down that password and expose it to further risk.

The IRS is recommending these additional tips to help you craft the strongest passwords you can to maintain their integrity beyond just the first pass through a company’s website. They are the same techniques they are recommending for tax preparers.

  • Use at least eight characters, and go even longer if you can easily remember it.
  • Have combos of symbols, numbers and letters, such as ThisGreatPassword@2020.
  • Don’t use anything too common or personal to you.
  • Be sure to change temporary or default passwords set by an account or company device.
  • Make sure you have unique usernames and passwords for each of your accounts or devices.
  • Never use an email address as the username. If you have a physical password list, store it securely in a locked cabinet or safe.
  • Never give your password to anyone, for any reason. If you want, utilize a secure manager program that can store those valuable passwords.

Homeland Security is also recommending that you use multi-factor authentication whenever possible. This adds even more protection for your data and makes it harder for cyber criminals who would have to, as one example, crack the security code you send to yourself via text on a mobile phone.

And by the way, the IRS notes that they will never ask for your personal passwords.

Ways that tax agencies protect your data

One of the safeguards that Homeland Security and the IRS have put in place is a requirement for tax preparers to strengthen data protection for their clients. There are laws in place which require those who prep taxes to create their own written information security plan.

As part of this effort, there are specific requirements in place from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that will help protect businesses’ taxes from being a target for cyber thieves. Online criminals try to steal data from tax preparers to create fraudulent returns. They then use those returns to score refunds for themselves, all with an eye toward making them as realistic as they can with actual data so the IRS cannot easily detect the fraud.

Among the FTC requirements that help ensure safe data from tax preparers are these steps:

  • Start a safeguard program, then monitor and test it regularly.
  • Choose employees to coordinate the security program.
  • Assess risks to client info and evaluate the safeguards in place to protect data.
  • Designate a service provider to maintain safeguards and oversee client information.
  • Adjust the program as needed, including when the tax firm changes or when regular monitoring demands that a change take place

Treasury management options for Utah businesses

First Utah Bank is your hometown financial institution. We can provide some great tools to help you with transfers, deposits, statements and monitoring balances, just several of the offerings under the treasury management umbrella.

Among the protections we provide is Positive Pay, which helps protect against check fraud. We can also work with you for wire transfers, remote deposits, ACH transactions and account transfers in a safe manner that protects your assets. Also part of treasury management is granting controlled access of business accounts to employees, exporting transactions into programs such as Quicken or Direct Connect, using ACH Origination Services for payroll or accounts receivable, and making remote deposits.

You can find out more about how our treasury management services can help your business and give you secure peace of mind at firstutahbank.com.