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Peace of mind is incredibly important for business owners, whether they’re sole traders or directors of their own limited company. For many, being self-employed is a lifelong dream – however, there is no denying that becoming a contractor also means worrying about issues such as cybersecurity.

The safety of your financial information is of the utmost importance, not only because it will give you the peace of mind you need to go about your day-to-day, but also because it will keep your data out of criminals’ hands.

Your information is secure when you choose Gorilla Accounting. As contractor accountants, we deal with sensitive data all the time, which means we know exactly how to keep yours safe and sound.

Biggest Hacks and Data Breaches of 2019

So how do you ensure the safety of your financial information when you’re self-employed?

Just last year, there were some massive data breaches around the world, a lot of which affected people living in the UK.

In March, hundreds of millions of Facebook passwords were exposed due to the company’s lack of proper encryption and storage management. The passwords were stored in plain text, which means any employee could come across users’ login details and, potentially, abuse them. Instagram users were also affected, as Facebook owns the social media platform. There are over 2.3 billion monthly users on Facebook and more than 1 billion on Instagram.

Then, in April, Facebook did it again; 540 million records were left exposed, as users’ names, IDs and passwords were found on unprotected servers. In 2018, Twitter also reported a data breach issue, so this problem is not limited to Facebook – 330 million people were advised to alter their passwords.

During August, a huge leak was exposed in the UK. 27.8 million biometric employee records of the Metropolitan Police, of several banks, of defence contractors, and of enterprise companies, were exposed. The data breach included fingerprint records, photos, facial recognition data, passwords, user security clearances, emails, home addresses and mobile information.

Two cashback sites that operate mainly in the UK and India (Cashkaro and PouringPounds) also leaked the information of 3.5 million people. This breach occurred in August and exposed user details such as passwords, bank information (including sort code, account number and email), mobile numbers, IP addresses, login credentials and more.

Two recruitment sites are also responsible for leaking data from 250,000 UK and USA jobseekers, which included CVs, names, addresses and contact details. This was due to misconfigured cloud storage.

2019 saw many more data breaches and leaks and 2020 may very well be the same. The fact of the matter is that cybersecurity and cybercrime are vital issues and it’s necessary that organisations do everything in their power to protect users’ details and information – and that they take cybersecurity very seriously.

While it’s challenging to keep your information from falling into the wrong hands, it’s not impossible. There are several things you can do to stay safe and to minimise the impact of a data breach, such as creating unique passwords that don’t repeat or using a password manager.

You can also shop around for the best providers. For example, if you’re looking for accounting for contractors, make sure to select certified professionals.

Choose Certified Accountants

At Gorilla Accounting, we help to manage 3,000 bank accounts, so we’re no strangers to cybersecurity; in fact, security is paramount for us, and we have measures in place to ensure that our clients’ data is always safe.

In addition to this, we have the Cyber Essentials accreditation. Not many accountancy firms have this, so you can rest assured that we know our stuff. Cyber Essentials is a government-backed, industry-supported scheme to help organisations protect themselves against common online threats. This allows us to stay on top of the latest cybersecurity information and to prevent cyberattacks and data breaches.

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As another affirmation of quality, we are also working towards the AAT-approved trainer status, which will allow us to provide accountancy training and AAT qualifications. Gaining this status will also mean that we meet AAT’s incredibly high standards. The organisation also conducts regular checks to ensure that companies meet their regulatory requirements and strict standards.

As our client, you will benefit from our vast knowledge and from the added security that comes from our specialist certifications. Of course, you will also get peace of mind. Growing your business is already a round-the-clock occupation, so the last thing you need is to have to stress about whether your business details, such as financial data, are safe. With Gorilla, you can put this thought out of your mind.

GDPR Compliance

Another key element of cybersecurity is GDPR, or General Data protection Regulation, introduced in May 2018. This EU legislation resolves around consent. Information needs to be freely given and unambiguous, renewable, specific, revocable, not obtained under coercion and not hidden among other services.

So, if your business includes handling information of EU citizens, you will have to stay compliant with GDPR. This legislation is aimed at both organisations and individuals so, whether you’re operating through a limited company or are a sole trader, you have GDPR obligations to consider.

Gorilla are limited company accountants, as well as sole trader accountants, so we can help you get a handle on this rule – there are so many things to consider when you become a contractor or freelancer, so let us lighten the burden by providing expert advice to all of your queries.

Staying GDPR-compliant will mean avoiding penalties and fines as well, which can become expensive. Non-compliers have to pay up to €10 million (or 2% annual global turnover, whichever is higher) or up to €20 million (or 4% annual global turnover, whichever is higher) in fines. The administrative fine tier will depend on the data infringed or breached.

Your accountant also has to be compliant with GDPR, so keep this in mind when making a decision.

Accountancy firms have to process their clients’ personal data, which they receive in relation to professional practice. They have the duty to keep records of all the activities they require your information for, a duty to document why your data is being processed by them and a duty to inform you if there’s a breach.

Is Your Accountant Up to Date with HMRC Rules?

HMRC legislation is constantly changing and updating. Staying on top of it all – as well as understanding all their ins and outs – can be a full-time task by itself, so it’s only natural that contractors and freelancers opt to outsource this to a specialist accountant.

However, you will want to make sure that your accountant is actually knowledgeable about all financial legislation that can affect you. Self-employed rules are complex and specific, as is the case with IR35 in the private sector and Section 24, so an accountant that has the relevant expertise in your sector can go a long way to ensure your financial details are safe.

As a business owner, whether the director of a company or a freelancer, you have certain obligations when it comes to taxation. If you’re badly advised and commit a mistake because of that, be it a document that wasn’t filed properly, a missed tax deadline or even improper company incorporation, HMRC will consider it your problem – and responsibility.

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For example, if you’ve received incorrect IR35 advice, the government will still see it as your issue to solve – and your tax and national insurance contributions to pay back. For this reason, if you want to partner with an accountant to make your life easier, you have to make sure they’re reputable and know everything there is to know about contractor accounting.

Gorilla Accounting is the number one rated accountancy firm on Trustpilot, and we’ve saved our clients just under £2 million pounds (you can easily compare contractor accountants and see how we differ).

We’re used to working with professionals from a variety of industries, including medicine, IT, social media, art and property management. We also wrote an article on ‘What to Look for When Choosing Contractor Accountants‘, so give it a read through to learn more about what to expect when you work with an accountant.

Likewise, any other type of financial service you choose to partner with in order to run your business needs to be just as trustworthy.

Your business bank accounts have to be safe and you also require good contractors insurance, for example. Gorilla Accounting are more than happy to help you find the perfect solution, as we work together with many experts dedicated to offer contractors and freelancers the most comprehensive service possible.

FreeAgent Accounting Software Will Keep Your Data Safe

When you’re doing transactions, sending invoices or checking your bank accountant, you want to know that your financial data is safe.

When you join Gorilla, you get access to FreeAgent bookkeeping software at no extra cost. Trusted by over 60,000 freelancers, contractors and small businesses, this tool is a fantastic companion to anyone who wishes to be self-employed. Not only will it manage your finances, but it will do so in a secure manner.

FreeAgent monitors for malicious activity non-stop and is proactive in finding and eliminating potential security risks. The software also has the Cyber Essentials Plus certification and its data centres are ISO 27001-certified. These data centres are manned 24/7 and protected with CCTV. FreeAgent uses strong encryption as well, so you will always have a secure connection to the software.

Your information is encrypted using high-grade 256-bit Secure Sockets Layer technology, the same used by banks to keep your sensitive data safe. FreeAgent is also compliant with GDPR.

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Other Tips to Ensure the Safety of Your Financial Data

As a contractor or freelancer, there are several more ways you can keep your financial information secure. The following tips are by no means comprehensive, but can be a great starting point to ensure no one gets their hands on your identity or bank details:

  • Monitor your public data and keep GDPR in mind. If necessary, request your information be removed from a specific website or database, as is your prerogative under this EU legislation.
  • Keep an eye out for phishing attempts, which are one of the most common types of cybercrime; be careful where you reveal confidential information and check all links before clicking on them.
  • Only use secure systems. This includes not only your bookkeeping software but also antivirus and even email (add 2-factor authentication).
  • Check your transactions on a regular basis, which will make it easier to spot anything out of the ordinary. All of your transaction should run on secure and verified platforms as well.
  • Use a password generator and manager to create strong passwords.
  • Back everything up. Another benefit of using FreeAgent is that this is a cloud-based system, so you’re not at risk of losing all of your data should anything happen.

How Much Would You Pay for Peace of Mind?

Everyone at Gorilla Accounting is highly qualified, from our directors to your dedicated accountant and, between us all, we’re experts in a multitude of sectors.

A monthly fee of £110 + VAT is a cost-effective price to pay for peace of mind. Not only will your accounts be managed by professionals with many years of experience in the financial field, but your business will also stay up to date with the latest HMRC rules. Your accounts will also be safe no matter what, especially with our technology-driven approach.

No more worrying about penalties and fines due to late or incorrect submissions; as our client, if you’re unsure about anything, you just have to get in touch with us before 3pm and we guarantee a same-day reply. Give us a ring today on 0330 024 0406 to learn more about our services. In the meantime, our contractor tax calculator can help you to figure out your take-home pay, so check it out.

 

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