Protecting financial data is imperative for businesses of all sizes and sectors. This means safeguarding account details, transactions, payment cards, client banking information, receipts and more, as well as taking care of assets.

Without appropriate levels of security in place, businesses risk serious financial loss. But data breaches can also cause irreparable reputational damage as well as major operational disruption and intellectual loss.

This is especially true in the modern age, with cyber-attacks all too common amid global economic uncertainty. A recent government survey found that 39% of UK businesses had identified a cyber attack in the past 12 months. 

It’s wise to work with legal experts should any breach or dispute arise. But thankfully there are many principles and processes that businesses can follow to reduce risk from the outset, some of which we’ve outlined below.

Strong passwords

Creating strong passwords may sound simplistic in 2022; we’ve been told of their importance for years. But difficult-to-guess passwords are still among any company’s strongest financial security tools.

A strong password is typically unique and includes a mixture of symbols, numbers and letters in different cases. Patterns like names and birthdays should be avoided. But it’s also important to update passwords regularly to keep hackers guessing.   

Multi-factor authentication

Multi-factor authentication goes one or several steps further than a strong password by asking for extra layers of information before granting access. Be it a one-time text or email code or an app prompt, this way financial data remains secure even if attackers get hold of a password.

It’s possible to add multi-factor authentication to apps and accounts as well as devices.   

Software updates

Software updates can seem like an inconvenience, especially when eating into company time for a little obvious reward. But as well as introducing new features, many updates are specifically designed to fight new cyber threats.

Regularly updating devices and apps is a sensible habit for any team to adopt. Setting up automatic updates ensures no-one has the opportunity to forget or skip them.   

Phishing training

Phishing attacks are among the most common means of acquiring financial data fraudulently. In fact, nearly half of UK adults reported receiving a phishing message in the month prior to completing a recent ONS survey. This makes it vital to help staff understand how to spot and handle suspicious emails and messages.

Common giveaways include spelling errors, unrecognised contacts and unusual requests.

Account monitoring

Finally, it’s good practice to monitor business accounts and review all activity on at least a monthly basis. Doing so allows staff to flag anything that doesn’t appear correct and reduce the risk of further damage.

It can be wise to avoid – or at least avoid relying on – automatic downloads of transactions into accounting software.

Financial data loss is a very real threat. But with ample security measures in place, companies are better positioned to avoid making headlines.  

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