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Unauthorised changes to accounting information: What should you do?

by , 14 April 2015
When protecting your accounting information, you need to be reminded of a major risk: Unauthorised changes to accounting information. Note that by definition, manipulation of accounting information means that an individual makes unauthorised changes to the information.

This can happen whether due to error, due to ill-intent. For example, an employee accidentally passes incorrect accounting transactions or hackers intentionally make changes or delete financial information.

Here's the effect it will have on your company...

Why unauthorised changes to your company's accounting information is so dangerous

• Decisions made by management will be based on inaccurate financial information.

• Tax returns will be submitted to SARS based on inaccurate information, which may result in penalties and interest being levied against you.

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• Financial information supplied to CIPC may be inaccurate, which will result in penalties.

• Complete loss of the entity's financial infrastructure if someone alters prior period balances.

Now that you know the risks, here's how to protect your accounting records from unauthorised access and manipulation:

• Lock you're accounting records and supporting documents in a secure room on the company's premises. This will ensure that unauthorised personnel can't gain access to it.

• Only management and accounting personnel who need to have access to the accounting records should have physical access to the room.

• All electronic files and information should be saved on a local server that is located in a secure server room and that:
a) is equipped with passwords only management and accounting personnel have been entrusted with; and
b) is fixed into the room and can't be removed from the room without severe physical force.

• Fit your premises with an alarm system.

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