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5 Proven Ways CPAs Can Avoid Disaster for Tax Season

By: Jessica Clifford

Active accountant checking receipts in her office-1

It is the week before taxes are due. Your firm is busy filing data and finishing last minute client needs. Suddenly, no one is able to access the tax preparation software. Someone checks on the server, only to find it has stopped its constant buzzing and the lights are off. You are not sure what this means, but you know that people are unable to do their work. 

With an ever-growing problem, how much will this cost you? Your firm may lose tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of profit. If you do not have backups, you will have to pay your employees to reenter data. Redoing work prevents your firm from assisting current clients, which can snowball into unhappy customers and a bad reputation. 

With potential consequences as damaging as these, every accounting firm should look for ways to avoid downtime.

Here are five ways to help you Avoid Downtime in Tax Season:

1. Use a Network Monitoring System

Everything comes down to monitoring the way your network is running. Network Monitoring Systems tell you if your network is in ‘danger,’ and gives reports about what is happening in real-time. You will know your servers CPU response time, disk write delays, memory utilization, overall network availability, and more. Therefore, you will not have to guess what is happening on your network, giving you peace of mind.

2. Updating or Buying New Equipment

For many accounting firms, this is a hassle because they do not have the budget to buy new hardware. However, if a professional instructs you to buy new equipment, then you should do this as soon as you can afford it. You never know if your server will break in the midst of tax season, causing downtime at the worst time possible for you.

The idea of updating old equipment is similar to not taking advice from your auto mechanic, who tells you that you need a new engine because yours is overheating. You decide to only cool it down with water, preventing engine failure and saving you money from buying a new engine. A month later your engine dies. In the end, waiting to replace old equipment can cost you more than you think.

3. Install and Update Firewalls

One essential way to keep your firm less vulnerable to downtime is installing a current model firewall. However, just installing a firewall will not be enough; you must make sure your firewall has updated software and the latest security patches installed regularly. Doing this will prevent the downtime your organization can receive after a hacker cracks your weak password: Panthers#1Fan, and then uses your account to send phishing emails to your entire client list.

4. Testing Employees Security Knowledge

Network downtime can come from human error, such as an employee clicking or downloading malicious files over email or social media. Managers should enforce security assessments that help employees notice the characteristics of a scam or a malicious email. For example, your employee might be unaware of CEO Fraud. So, they get an email with the CEO’s email address and make the wire transfer that he or she wanted them to do for as much money as stated in the email. Then, hackers pick up the transferred funds from an offshore account, preventing you from ever getting your money back. By using security tests, employers can feel secure knowing their employees are preventing downtime costs because they know about scams such as this one.

5. Testing Backups

Backups are critical to the survival of your organization when disaster strikes. Many organizations are not testing their backups to confirm their integrity. How often should you test your backups? It depends on how valuable your data is. If the organization can not survive to lose a day of data, you probably need to test your backups daily. If you are not regularly testing your backups, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise when you need your backups the most. For example, if Ransomware infects the network during tax season, but the backups did not work, then this could be a crisis. Not only will your organization lose more money from extended downtime, but essentially they will lose the money spent to keep the backups. Therefore, frequently testing your backups is a must when trying to avoid long periods of downtime.

When tax season rolls around, the last thing your accounting firm will want is network downtime. Therefore, your firm should enforce these five tips before the busyness of tax season stops you from thinking about anything else. For more information about ways to avoid network downtime during tax season, contact Total Computer Solutions at 336.804.8449.

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