Is Email Endangering Your Clients’ Confidentiality?
Accounting firms have always placed the highest priority on the protection and confidentiality of client financial information. While this commitment remains high, the practical challenges of fulfilling it are greater than ever. The increasing use of Internet-based interactions with clients and the exchange of growing amounts of confidential data from widely-scattered locations demand careful management of electronic security. In addition, federal and state laws and regulations have introduced a legal requirement to protect data.
It’s imperative that firm leaders conduct a careful review of their risk in handling confidential client information and ensure that they have appropriate tools and controls in place to manage the risk. It’s critical to understand that email alone, in the absence of additional protective measures, is inherently insecure and inadequate. Transmitting client information via email attachment does not meet the specified legal requirements and fails to live up to the certified public accountant (CPA) commitment to client confidentiality. Alternative means of electronic document transfer must be used.
The Problem of Transmitting Sensitive Client Information: Protection of Confidential Information
For anyone who has ever worked in an accounting firm in any capacity, part of the day one orientation deals with the importance of protecting client confidentiality. CPAs have always, and quite correctly, taken their obligation to safeguard sensitive client information very seriously. In the not too distant past, most of this information existed in paper form, and its transmission was either physical (through the mail or hand delivered) or verbal over the phone. Safeguarding this type of information was relatively straightforward, and most firms had well thought out policies to ensure security. Today, of course, the world is no longer so simple. Firms of all sizes have the prospect of working globally with a highly mobile workforce and client base, and handling information may exist only electronically. Working efficiently in this environment, while still maintaining the highest standards of client confidentiality, is a far more difficult challenge.
To learn more about how to restore security and improve workflow, read this whitepaper on client confidentiality, written by Ken McCall of Boomer Consulting and Laura Ivey of ShareFile. This paper will review some of the major components of the risk associated with handling confidential client information and suggest ways to mitigate it.
Still have questions or want to learn how to protect your clients’ confidentiality? Give us a call today 1-800-441-3453.