APJ

Keeper Security Gives Cybersecurity Advice to APAC Organisations for the 2023 Tax Season

Keeper

The 2023 tax season is upon us. For cybercriminals, it is an opportune time to send out phishing scams, steal sensitive information, and exploit weaknesses in personal and organisational networks.  Individuals and businesses are reminded to stay vigilant to protect their personal and financial information from cyberthreats and avoid becoming victims of cybercrime. Keeper Security offers the following cybersecurity advice: 
1. Be on the lookout for phishing and phone scams.
 Cybercriminals have been known to pose as officers from the internal revenue agencies, tax preparation companies and other tax-related organisations in an attempt to steal your personal information. These attempts can include phone calls, text messages, emails, and other forms of communication. To avoid becoming a victim of a phishing attack, do not open attachments or click on links from unknown sources, verify that it’s a trusted source requesting the information and check any links to make sure they’re not leading you to a malicious site. Government agencies will not send unsolicited emails, phone calls or text messages asking for personal information, financial information or payment.

2. Create strong, unique passwords for all of your accounts. This is especially important for your financial accounts. Passwords should be at least 12 characters with a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, a variety of symbols and a random assortment of numbers. Also, consider a passphrase rather than a single word. Avoid using easy to guess information such as familiar names, birthdates and addresses. Finally, make sure you have different, high-strength passwords for all of your accounts. This way, if one account is breached, a cybercriminal does not gain access to all your accounts. A password manager can generate and securely store strong passwords, which can be especially useful for accounts that are infrequently used. Consider using multi-factor authentication for your accounts as a second layer of security.

3. Securely store and share sensitive documents. Tax preparers will require sensitive documents with personally identifiable information (PII) which could include your identity card or tax reference number, an Identity Protection PIN or banking information. While physical copies of tax documents can be locked in a file cabinet or safe, digital copies should be stored on a secure external hard drive or in a secure cloud storage system. Sending these documents through email or text messaging can expose sensitive information. Instead, utilise an encrypted service to send tax documents and financial information. Your tax preparer may also use a secure file transfer service. Ensure that you’re only sharing this sensitive information with those who need it, such as your tax preparer, financial advisor or lawyer.

4. Make sure your software is up-to-date. Regularly update your operating system, web browser, security software and other applications to ensure they have the latest security patches and features. Software updates not only patch security flaws that cybercriminals can take advantage of, but also add new features and improve existing ones. It is especially important to check your tax software if you have not touched it since the last time you filed your taxes.

5. Use a secure WiFi connection when filing taxes or sending tax information online. Public WiFi is a key battleground for cybercriminals. Thus, without proper protections, you may be vulnerable to both a cyberattack and eavesdropping. Open Public WiFi, absent adequate encryption software, should not be used to send any personal or financial information. The use of public computers should be avoided for the same reason. Use a trusted network with a strong WiFi password, a VPN and ensure your home router’s software is up to date.

When filing income tax returns, it’s crucial to take proactive measures to prevent your personal and financial information from being compromised. By following these simple tips, individuals and organisations will be far less likely to fall victim to cybercrime this tax season. Becoming a victim of identity theft can not only have immediate impacts, but can also create additional steps when filing taxes in future seasons. It’s also advised to file early to avoid phishing scams that come up closer to the deadline and to address any issues that may arise ahead of time.

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