Egress Software Technologieshas announced a strategic partnership with the International Association of Accountants, Innovation and Technology Consultants (IAAITC).

The IAAITC claimed that one of the biggest challenges facing the professional services industry is the ability to share client information securely, as typical contracts such as a standard letter of engagement, clearly state that firms will comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 when processing client data.

This commitment is given without any thought as to how either party will achieve such compliance, which may explain why so many UK legal and accountancy practises continue to overlook this serious contractual obligation.

IAAITC CEO David Reynolds commented that before the introduction of £500,000 fines for data breaches by the Information Commissioner's Office, UK firms were willing to take the risk of data loss and pay the maximum penalty of £5,000. “However, since the increase in April this year, our members have been called upon to advise their clients how to protect their businesses when sharing confidential information,” he said.

“Living dangerously is no longer an option. Loss of client data can and will result in expensive cleanup costs and irretrievable damage to an organisation's reputation. These are the foundations on which our local business communities are built, and such severe consequences must now be taken very seriously.”

According to Egress, its Switch product offers protection of outbound data regardless of file size or transport mechanism. Using AES 256-bit encryption, Switch secures confidential information sent by email, copied to USB removable media, burnt to CD/DVD, or uploaded to FTP/cloud servers.

Information owners can then set or change security policies through a service in the cloud. Security policies include real-time user and package management, even after the information is sent or shared. This allows users to instantly ‘pull information back' should audit events suggest the data has been lost or mishandled.

Tony Pepper, CEO of Egress Software Technologies, said: “We are very excited about working closely with the IAAITC and its membership organisation. Our core objectives remain the same; to help small and medium businesses mitigate the risks associated with sharing confidential data containing personally identifiable information.

“Don't throw away years of hard work establishing a successful practise, just to see it all disappear in front of your eyes. Carry out an independent risk assessment and ensure that appropriate measures are in place when sharing sensitive data.”