Filing taxes online can save you time, but it’s not without risks. The sort of information you are entering into a form on the Internet is the kind of stuff that hackers dream about. Think about it: your social security is there, almost every other piece of identifying information is there, and — if you own a business — some of your assets are exposed as well. If you want to keep your tax information safe, here’s what you need to know:
Risks of Online Tax Submissions
E-filing your taxes can expose you to a number of security risks. Even if you’re using an anti-malware program, you may unknowingly have a virus, which could expose sensitive information, such as your social security number to hackers. There are other risks too, including hackers:
- Spying on your WiFi connection,
- Intercepting your data as it travels to the tax application, or
- Tricking you into entering your data into a fraudulent tax filing site.
Communicating electronically with a tax preparation company isn’t necessarily safe, either. Any financial documents or communications you send over the Internet could be stolen in transit, unless they are properly encrypted with secure email solutions.
SSL/TLS — the encryption method used by Gmail and most secure sites (including tax filing sites) — depends on the servers your message travels through for encryption. If the server has been compromised or doesn’t support the newest encryption standards, a malicious party could intercept and decipher your messages and attachments, obtaining your identity information and social security number, along with detailed data about your finances.
Protecting Your Tax Information
Safe online filing is possible — you just need to take a few extra steps to protect your data. Virtru’s secure email solutions allow you to protect the emails you send to your tax agent (along with your W-2 forms and other attachments) using client-side encryption. Your message will be scrambled before it leaves your computer, and only decoded once it reaches your recipient’s computer. Even if a criminal manages to intercept it, they’ll be unable to read it.
Safe online tax filing also depends on a secure computer and Internet connection. Make sure all your software is up-to-date, and scan your computer with antivirus software. Never access a WiFi network that is unencrypted (and that you recognize) and never send any secure information across a network that you don’t own. For extra security, you may want to sign up for a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This will make it harder for malicious actors to spy on your web traffic (including your online tax return) and also provides protection against outside surveillance.
Be Safe Online: Tax Filing is the Perfect Time to Improve your Security
Many people only worry about Internet security when tax season comes around, but your online data is vulnerable all year long. Virtru encryption provides secure email solutions that prevent hackers from compromising your confidential data. Get Virtru secure email, and you can rest easy knowing your private messages will stay private.
Want to take the extra step? Download Virtru, and then read about some other email security best practices to protect yourself online.