I have the pleasure to present an advanced session on cybersecurity to tax preparers at the IRS’ National Tax Preparers Forum each year. The sessions are well attended, and I enjoy meeting attendees and talking about the craziness of new techniques threat actors are using to attack small businesses. This year was no exception.

One of the tips we discussed is being aware of the data that apps are collecting and checking your privacy settings frequently. During the session, I make the attendees get their phones out, go to their privacy settings, and look to see all of the apps they are allowing to access their location, microphone, and camera. When I explain what this means, there are audible gasps in the audience. It is like having a Russian or Chinese spy on your shoulder at all times.

I check my privacy settings frequently. I have a reminder in my calendar on the first of every month to check my privacy settings and set them where I want them. It is interesting how they may change from month to month depending on software updates.

At the same time, I check to see if there are any apps on my phone that I don’t need or don’t use. If so, I delete them. You can always download them again if you are going to use them.

Finally, before you download an app and click “I agree,” READ THE PRIVACY STATEMENT so you know what data the app is collecting, and you can control the data that is being collected. One setting that is useful is the one where data is only collected while using the app. Get in the habit of checking your privacy settings and deleting apps you don’t use. Don’t let them add up so you gasp when you go to check your settings.