Security is an important issue to your business, and what could be more important than your financial processes? Your billing and accounting systems probably contain sensitive information. If that information falls into the wrong hands, your business’s entire reputation could be at stake.
If your business is one of the many now relying on cloud accounting solutions, you have more reason than ever to be concerned about security breaches. Now that your invoices are part of a system with a large collection of data, those invoices could be vulnerable to a widespread attack aimed at gathering contact information and account numbers. Here are a few things your business can do to keep your invoicing processes safe.
Enter Minimal Information
If a breach occurs, criminals will only be able to intercept information that has been entered into the system. There’s likely no reason to include information like banking account numbers or system usernames on your invoices, although your own account information may be housed on your cloud solution’s servers. You may also need to refrain from entering mailing addresses for clients that want to be invoiced by email, since that simply will serve as information that can be stolen in the event of a breach. While some invoicing tips recommend including social security or taxpayer identification numbers, keep this information off of invoices, saving it instead for the tax forms that you exchange directly with the customer.
Check Security Standards
As you search for the right invoicing software for your business, look for security as one of the important features you consider. Make sure information is encrypted as it travels from one point to another and make sure your invoices are backed up on a regular basis. The latter will be essential if the site should suffer data loss. Ask the vendor what intrusion detection methods it uses and whether you will be notified immediately in the event of a breach. Without notification, your business won’t be able to notify your own customers so that they can take precautions. If possible, ask others who have used the service if they’ve been satisfied with the level of security they’ve received from the company. A simple Internet search will often reveal any serious security issues a provider has had, as well as how the provider responded to those issues.
Your own workers can be your biggest security liability. They have access to sensitive information about your clients, as well as the access necessary to commit serious forms of fraud. It may seem impossible that your workers might be less than trustworthy, but it happens. Make it your policy to background screen any employees who will have access to sensitive data and financial accounts. Once you’ve hired a new employee, make responsible security use part of your onboarding procedures. Occasionally audit your systems to identify any questionable activity as early as possible.
Change Passwords Frequently
Weak passwords serve as an entry point into a business’s systems, since they’re easy for criminals to guess. Train your administrative staff to use complex passwords and safeguard those passwords. Let them know the dangers of writing the information down on slips of paper they leave on their desks or in laptop bags. Set a policy that passwords to invoicing systems should be changed every 30 or 60 days to add a layer of security. If your vendor will allow password restrictions to be enforced at the administrator level, set up those restrictions and revisit your requirements every year or so to make sure you’re keeping systems as safe as possible.
Invoicing is an important part of a business’s processes. However, as important as it is to get paid, it’s equally important to protect customer privacy. By choosing a trusted invoicing software vendor and making sure transactions are encrypted, businesses can take an important first step toward providing that security. But business owners will also need to make sure they hire employees who will keep customers safe as they input information and monitor accounts.