ATO urges vigilance over ongoing threats affecting customer information

The ATO has urged Australia’s tax community to be vigilant, encouraging professionals to adopt appropriate processes to protect their business and client information.

The tax office said the new year brings an important time for tax professionals to address the safeguards they have in place within their office – both in an online environment and in the office. real world. This, he said, will help ensure that business and customer information is free from cyber threats and physical threats.

“The Australian Cyber ​​Security Center (ACSC) Essential Eight program contains basic mitigation strategies to protect your systems against common cyber threats,” the ATO said.

“You also need to be aware of physical threats, because if your practice is broken into, criminals could steal sensitive information to attempt tax evasion.”

To ensure they have appropriate safety standards in place, the ATO has encouraged professionals to consult the ACSC checklist.

The checklist invites professionals to review your physical security and consider installing additional alarms, surveillance cameras or locks for your premises; confirm that previous employees’ access to your systems and premises is terminated upon leaving your employment; and secure portable devices that contain customer information, such as laptops and tablets.

In addition, the checklist instructs professionals to verify that all computers and other devices have up-to-date security controls and software, and to immediately install all system updates; lock computer screens and ensure no documents are left behind when meeting clients in public places; ensure records are destroyed using a secure records destruction service; and minimize paper records and keep them in secure, locked cabinets or secure offsite storage.

“Encourage your clients to report any suspicious activity or communication related to their tax affairs and super to you and us as soon as possible,” the ATO continued.

“If you are the victim of a break-in, report it to the police and contact us as soon as possible on 1800 467 033 between 8am and 6pm AEDT, Monday to Friday. Early contact allows us to help you apply measures to protect your business, your staff and your customers.

“Depending on the risk associated with the incident in the event of loss of customer data, we may need to remove your access to our systems while the breach is remediated.

“You must also notify the Tax Practitioners Board when a breach has occurred, so that they can advise you regarding your obligations under the Code of Professional Conduct.”

ATO urges vigilance over ongoing threats affecting customer information

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Last update: January 25, 2022

Posted: January 25, 2022