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Safeguarding Taxpayer Data: Create Strong Passwords

IRS Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself Tax Tip Number 8, January 25, 2017

Passwords are often the key to the identification and authentication process for access to your computer, email and encrypted information, both received and transmitted. For this reason, it is critical to your business and the security of your client data that you have strong passwords and that you protect those passwords.

Here are some things you should consider in creating and protecting passwords:

  • Longer passwords are safe and more difficult to guess. A strong password should be a minimum of eight characters. It should include a combination of letters, numbers and symbols or special characters. Your password should include at least one uppercase letter, one lowercase letter, one number and one symbol or character.

  • Personal information should not be included in your passwords.  Names of siblings, children, pets, etc., are generally available on social media, which makes it easier for cybercriminals to figure out your password.

  • Avoid using the same password for all of your information systems, accounts or devices. If someone does guess one password, they will not have access to all your systems, devices or data.

  • Substitute numbers and symbols for letters in words or phrases to make it more difficult to guess a password.

  • Do not share your password and be careful of attempts to trick you into revealing your password.

For additional information, see the Department of Homeland Security’s “Creating a Password Tip Card.”

This is one in a series of security awareness tax tips for tax professionals. The “Protect Your Clients; Protect Yourself” campaign’s goal is to raise awareness among tax professionals. It is an initiative of the Security Summit, a joint project by the IRS, states and the tax community to combat identity theft. Because of the sensitive client data held by tax professionals, cybercriminals increasingly are targeting the tax preparation community.

 

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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 25-Jan-2017