How to Protect Customer Data: 8 Ways Your Business Can Start Today
Customer data security is one of the most important things you must offer in the business world today. Data has become a sort of currency that unsavory parties may exploit if they manage to access it. Therefore, businesses need to understand how to protect customer data that they might obtain or manage.
For example: did you know that copiers and MFDs store in hard disk drives (HDD) a lot of the information that is sent to them (think: files sent to the device for printing)? That information becomes accessible from the outside, and the data contained in the HDD can be stolen or held for ransom, unless your device has a solid security protocol. That’s why we prefer Canon multifunction devices: Canon is the most secure line of copiers and MFDs, featuring McAfee virus scanner. That’s why it’s been named Reader Rankings Winner by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly magazine.
Customer data security is an essential promise to make and keep. The following tips can help secure that important data so that you and your customers can have peace of mind.
Tell your customers exactly what kind of information you will be collecting from them, and why. This open line of communication not only removes liability from you if customers accuse you of gathering more information than you have but also makes it easier for the customer to trust you and gain confidence in you and your purposes. Your customers may not mind the benefits of tailored ads or relevant links according to their data analysis, but if they do feel very strongly about their privacy, it is mutually beneficial to clue them in on what elements of their information you need access to.
Data transfer becomes a vulnerable process for the data to be intercepted by a third party. Encryption uses a key to translate a given text into a coded text that becomes inaccessible (or unreadable) to anyone other than those with the authorized key. This makes encryption an incredibly useful and effective tool. The integrity of the data is kept safe, and the customer can feel a direct authority over their data through the authentication steps required to access their data at all.
Invest in Cybersecurity
You can defend your business from IT threats by investing in cybersecurity measures. The rates of data breaches in technology systems have steadily increased as the software develops and loopholes are found and fixed. Spam, hacks, and viruses threaten your system constantly—this is why cybersecurity measures are a key investment for your data’s safety. Firewalls and filtration systems keep the red flag material from getting through to your websites and platforms through which you organize and run your business. Don’t shortcut security! This is one of the best ways to prevent and protect against disastrous breaches of your data.
Keep Your Software Updated
Again, the evolution of technology is rapid and impressive. As hackers learn, so should your software! Keep up with updates, frequently checking for “bug fixes” that your software companies have programmed to fight against the wear and tear of heavily trafficked networks. Be aware and proactive about potential threats to your business’s information. Also, you can help out your software companies by alerting them quickly of any issues that arise or consistent problems and glitches you find in your online usage. Software and cybersecurity go hand in hand, so find a platform that promises the best upkeep and consistent improvement in both. This kind of reliability will ease much of the worry you may otherwise have about hacks.
Be Stingy with Your Data
Only keep what you need. Copious amounts of data overwhelm your system and provide more material for hackers to get their hands on. Get rid of any data that is irrelevant to your purposes. (Obviously, this varies by business, but keep only the things that you will need to use consistently without communication from your client.) Credit card information is unnecessary once a transaction has been completed, so dump the information as soon as it’s done! That is one of the first targets hackers will attempt to steal; remove the option for them and protect yourself and your clients. Cleaning up the amount of information you hold onto makes organization easier and safer for your customers.
Pay Attention to Your Hard Copies
While the majority of business has shifted to an entirely online presence, hard copies still exist for organizational means and authoritative reassurance. Lock it up, hide it, control all the keys. Don’t allow any hard copy material out of the boundaries of your company. This also looks more impressive and will feel more comforting to any clients who may enter your business. In addition to the physical security measures of your physical copies, don’t forget about the copies that get thrown away or recycled. These should always be shredded before trash is taken out to dumpsters or community trash disposal. Wipe and/or smash any hard drives that have contained private or sensitive information—you do not want anyone digging through your trash to have a chance at piecing that customer info back together.
Train Your Employees
Screening your potential hires may be a step you choose to take in the hiring process to assure their trustworthiness within your business. Beyond that, training your employees to take the proper precautions and to be aware of any possible threats or questionable network issues will help you stay away from legal problems in the future. Emphasize the importance of maintaining high levels of security, and not skipping steps to do so. Your employees deal with details you do not see, so keep open communication with them to stay on top of problems that arise.
Have a Plan
The odds of a “worst-case scenario” becoming a reality decrease exponentially when any of the previously mentioned measures are implemented. Even still, having a plan of action for that scenario will confirm to your clients that you are prepared, and will provide you with a sense of comfort and confidence in your ability to handle such precarious situations. You will save time, energy, and stress by creating a series of steps or responses to various kinds of data intrusion. Know what you are up against, and be prepared to handle it!
Your company’s success rests on the trust and loyalty of your customers. Provide them with that sense of confidence and security in you! Show off your security (both physical and online), and assure everyone involved—leaders, employees, and clients—that you are prepared for anything, and your company can breathe a little easier.
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