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Technology / Business technology

Computer and software security: Minimising risk

Your computer system and accounting software records the most private information about your business, so it’s important both are secure. Here are some tech-talk-free tips for lowering the risks.

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Computer and software security is essential in every business to prevent theft and fraud in all forms. While the security of your computer and accounting software might be high, there are some additional precautions you can take to ensure it stays that way.

Computer logins

If it’s more than just you using your computer system, give other users their own secure computer login, which enables entry only to the information or systems they need access to complete their tasks. For example, they may not need to access the server or certain drives where sensitive or personal information about the business may be kept. 

Sharing passwords

Don’t allow anyone in your business to use your logins or passwords. Keep your passwords secure, whether they be for computers, banking or even entry to the business. Create a policy that clearly sets out the views of the business with regards to sharing passwords or allowing access to systems. 

"Don’t allow anyone in your business to use your logins or passwords."

Accounting software login

By giving staff their own login and password to your accounting software you are able to choose or restrict their access to parts of the program. You may want them to be able to process your purchase invoices but not review profit and loss reports. You may also wish to restrict access to payroll information for those not involved in the processing of sensitive information. 

Audit trail

You can choose to set up an audit trail in most accounting software programs to monitor the processing of your data. A session report can be printed when exiting your software showing all transactions processed while logged in. An audit report will also display the date, user and any changes made to the data in the system. 

Lock periods

Locking the periods in your accounting software prevents either accidental or deliberate changes to data in prior periods. Closing and locking the period at a particular date, whether it be monthly or quarterly, will also prevent changes to your data. If an error is discovered at a later date staff will have to notify you of any changes to be made, as the locked period will be password protected or have restricted access. 

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Changing transactions

Your accounting software can be set up so transactions cannot be changed or deleted in the system, only reversed. This enables a ‘paper trail’ in your system so you can still view the original transaction and reversal as well as the new correct processed transaction. 

Back up your data

Your accounting software can be set up to prompt you to back up at the end of every session assuming no other users are in the system. Unless changed, the default settings for the backup of your accounting program is generally on your local drive assuming your business doesn’t have a server. 

Back up your backups

For those not using a server you might wish to consider backing up your computer or laptop to an external source at least weekly and store this offsite for additional security should you be unlucky enough to experience flood, fire or other catastrophe. 

Disaster management plan

Have a disaster or risk management plan in place so you will know what to expect should the worst-case scenario occur. How would you cope and what would you do to keep the business running? Identify any risks to your business and put strategies in place to deal with any possible situation. There are many free risk management plan templates available on the internet, particularly on government websites for use in your business. 

So these are just a few basic tips to consider in your business next time you are reviewing your systems and procedures regarding your computers and software. 

What are your computer and software security tips?  

Susan Napper

assists clients to fully utilise their accounting software to produce accurate, timely, meaningful financial data, as a decision tool for future business development and growth.

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