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Tax professionals unsure of their own cyber security

Just one-third of tax specialists have cyber liability coverage in case a data breach occurs.
Just one-third of tax specialists have cyber liability coverage in case a data breach occurs.

Every year, businesses and households run to tax professionals to help them organize their financial data for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This job can be overwhelming for accountants because many people are coming in with folders filled with sensitive data, like Social Security numbers, W-2's and mortgage statements.

Regardless of the responsibility, it is up to these employees to protect these sources of information. If a tax preparer's office becomes the victim of a data breach, it hurts the business and compromises the security of their clientele. However, more than half of tax specialists are unaware of the potential risks of cyber attacks like identity theft or computer viruses, according to Accounting Today.

Over 600 National Association of Tax Professional (NATP) members participated in a survey that showed the alarming evidence. Only one-third of employees, about 211 individuals, said their office has a business continuity plan. Travelers collected the data of the NATP's poll during their annual conference in Phoenix, Arizona.

"Tax professionals need to prepare to withstand an unexpected event given the sensitive data they work with on a daily basis," Travelers Insurance Executive Vice President Marc Schmittlein said in the press release. "It is increasingly important to have a written business continuity plan in place to identify and mitigate potential threats to a business."

Out of the businesses that did have a business continuity plan, only 15 percent of respondents said they had liability coverage if a data breach or cyber invasion occurs. Companies that wish to establish a platform that suits their needs can reach out to business continuity consultants who specialize in disaster recovery.