As a small business owner, tax season can be… taxing. Between filing deadlines, issuing important tax documents to employees, and regular warnings from the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency)  about scams and phishing attacks meant to trick you into revealing personal information about yourself or your business, it’s easy to understand why so many small business owners dread tax season.

But despite the added stress tax season brings, it can serve as an important yearly “self-check” reminder to make sure you are taking steps to protect your critical business information.

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Here are a few things to remember as you begin preparing for tax season:

Secure your data – Do you prepare your business’ taxes on a company computer? If so, you likely have some very sensitive financial information on your hard drive. Make sure your files are secured with password-protected directories and accounts, and that your entire system is protected from outside threats. Also, if you plan to use a wireless network to NETFILE your taxes, be sure to use a secure Internet connection and never use public wireless hotspots.

Back up financial data – When was the last time you backed up your company data?  If you don’t already follow a backup schedule, tax season can be a great reminder that you need to regularly back up your data. Regularly backing up your data not only protects you at tax time in the event your data is compromised, it can also help protect you against future events such a natural disaster.  Remember that whether you back up to the cloud or a separate physical device/location, electronic data needs to be kept in a secure environment.

Keep your security software updated – You don’t have the time or resources to keep track of each and every new scam, phishing attack, or threat that comes around – that’s what your security software is supposed to do. But just as you can file your taxes without the most accurate tax information, your security software can’t so its job if it’s not up-to-date. The threat landscape changes daily, so keeping your security software up-to-date helps ensure that it will be able to address the most current threats to your information. After all, your ability to run an effective business depends on making sure your confidential data is safe and secure from outside threats.

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It shouldn’t come as any surprise that tax- and wage-related fraud often top the Government of Canada’s Anti-Fraud Centre list of identity theft complaints. By following these tips and using tax season as yearly “checkup” reminder, you can have confidence knowing you’ve taken steps to protect yourself and your business against the onslaught of tax-related scams and attacks.

For additional tips and reminders to help employees avoid sharing confidential data during tax season, please visit The Symantec Security Blog.

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