It’s not just large corporations and financial institutions that get hacked, but that’s exactly what hackers want you to think. In reality, small businesses are often the victims of data breaches because their owners neglect to take proactive cyber security measures, thinking that their size makes them immune to becoming a target for data theft and destruction.
Even if you password-protect your PCs and run antivirus and anti-malware software, there’s more you should do when it comes to protecting your accounting records. Here are a few steps we suggest that can help ward off big problems later.
Restrict access with user permissions
If you have multiple staff members using QuickBooks, don’t share the same user name and password. That obviously gives everyone access to all data and activity. If something goes awry, you have no way of knowing when or how it happened, or who was responsible. To protect yourself and everyone else who logs in, it’s critical that all users have a unique login. They should only be allowed to access information and functions that relate to their job duties.
To assign these permission levels, open the Company menu and click on Set Up Users and Passwords, then Set Up Users. This opens the User List window, where you should be identified as the Admin. Click Add User. Enter a user name and password for an employee who needs access (this can be changed later). Check the box in front of Add this user to my QuickBooks license.
Click Next. The next screen lists three options. You can grant access to all areas or to selected areas. You can also create a login for us as your external accountant, which lets us see everything except sensitive customer data. Select the second option and click Next. You can see in the image above that you can give the employee different levels of responsibility. When you’ve made your choice, click Next. The subsequent nine screens deal with different areas of QuickBooks and their related activities.
Save your company file elsewhere
You should continuously back up your company file to an external storage device (like a CD or thumb drive). To set this up, open the File menu and select Back Up Company, then Create Local Backup.
Make sure Local backup is selected, then click the Options button below. Click Browse to see a directory of your PC and select the correct destination. Leave the two boxes below it checked; this will add the backup date/time to the filename and limit the number of backup copies to three.
By default, QuickBooks will remind you to back up your file every fourth time you close your company file; you can change this number if you prefer. Leave the Complete verification option checked and click OK, then Next. Specify when you want to save your backup copy and click Next again. You can schedule regular backups of your company file on the next screen if you’d like. When you’ve completed this screen, click Finish.
You could also save a copy of your company file to the cloud. Intuit offers its own service for this; it costs $9.95 each month or $99.95 annually, but it gives you 100 GB of storage space, so you can back up other critical business files, too. If this isn’t financially feasible, at least store your backups to a portable device that you can carry offsite.
There are other things you can do to protect your QuickBooks data, such as:
- Insist on strong passwords. Sure, it does require extra thought to create and remember them, but it’s critical.
- Keep everything updated. That includes your operating system and anything else that requires updates.
- Minimize web browsing on work computers and remind employees about smart email behaviors.
We recommend that you consult with a KraftCPAs advisor as you set up any kind of backup system for QuickBooks. The software’s instructions are straightforward, but a simple misstep can jeopardize the integrity of your company file.
Related: Additional ways to keep your QuickBooks data safe