Keep Accounting Data Secure: Restrict User Access

You trust your employees or you wouldn’t have hired them to handle money. But internal accounting fraud occurs.

If you’re doing your accounting manually, you probably have built-in checks and balances that can detect deceptive practices. And you may divvy up the work in a way that limits individuals to specific tasks, so that you are the only one who can get a comprehensive view of your finances.

When you’re using cloud-based accounting applications, though, anyone who has a user name and password for the system can see and do everything – unless you specify the pages they can visit and the actions they can take.

Different Approaches

Each small business accounting website handles security differently, though all have the same goal: to keep your financial data safe.

State-of-the-art cloud-based accounting solutions make this critical step a part of the overall setup process. If more than one staff member already has a user name and password that gives them full access to the site, you can still alter those user permissions. Look for a tab or a link or a menu item that opens the application’s Settings, for example, or User Settings.

Once that page has opened, you should see an item labeled something like Users or Manage Users. Click on this to see your options. Depending on what application you’re using, they might include:

  • A user invitation. You may have to invite users via email. Once they respond to your request, they’ll have to create their own login credentials.
  • Roles available. Accounting websites often provide names for each set of permissions, like Standard, Advisor, and Payroll Administrator.
  • Site sections. This is where you start to get specific. Your application may let you restrict users to one or more areas of the site, like Invoices or Reports.
  • Accounting activities. What will each user be allowed to actually do in selected areas? Can they work with bank accounts? Publish reports or just view them? Enter payroll hours?

Beyond User Access Controls

Establishing access permissions for your staff does more than prevent fraud. It also keeps employees from working in an unfamiliar area and introducing errors that may be hard to trace. If that occurs, you’ll need to consult with an accounting professional to untangle your files and get you back on track.

Protecting your accounting data is a critical function, not just for your own security, but for that of your customers, suppliers, benefits providers – any individual or company whose sensitive details are stored there.

Your financial advisor can help you learn about other steps you can take to keep your desktop and mobile devices safe from fraud, hacking, and other unwanted intrusions. Lock down your systems as well as you possibly can, and your accounting files should remain intact and secure.


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