5 Tips for Safeguarding Customer Data
Data loss isn’t a minor issue – it’s a serious problem that’s costing businesses an average of $4 million per incident. Every year, more and more data is lost and more and more customers are put at risk. Not only does data loss hurt your bottom line, but it makes your business look irresponsible. Under certain circumstances, it can even lead to legal troubles.
Want to avoid the headaches that come with unintentionally losing and/or exposing customer data? The following tips will get you on the right track:
1. Resist the Urge to DIY
We live in a DIY culture that has, to a certain extent, been brought on by the level of access that the internet provides. However, there are certain things you don’t want to do yourself. Just like you’d call in a professional to work on your home’s electrical system, you should work with qualified experts when it comes to setting up your company’s data and security infrastructure.
The difference between a well-designed data center and a hodge-podge of servers and systems could mean the difference between protecting your customers’ data and losing it in one fell swoop. Spend what it takes to get the job done right.
2. Use a Dedicated Server
In an effort to save money, many small businesses use shared servers to host their files. While this may seem like an innocent solution, it greatly increases the risk of data being lost or stolen. Here’s another place where you need to spend money. A dedicated server, while more expensive, will provide much greater protection.
3. Encrypt Data
In today’s cybersecurity climate, there’s absolutely no excuse for not encrypting data. The chances of someone outside your company gaining possession of your customers’ data is extremely high. Encryption ensures that, even if they do gain access, they can’t interpret or use the data. Make sure you’re encrypting everything from email to files that you store on the cloud.
4. Restrict Access When Possible
According to a report from Intel, as much as 43 percent of data loss stems from internal sources. There’s roughly a 50-50 split between intentional and accidental data loss.
While it’s hard to imagine that your own employees could be a major cause of data loss, the numbers prove it. Restricting access is one of the top ways to reduce this threat.
All data should be classified under need-to-access categories. If an employee doesn’t have a specific need to access a file or program, he shouldn’t have the ability. It’s no longer a matter of restricting access if you think someone poses a threat. In today’s security environment, you should only grant access if they need it in order to perform their job effectively. See the difference?
5. Stay Current on Trends and Updates
Finally, make sure you’re staying up to date on industry trends. Things move fast in the world of data and information security. You don’t want to get caught looking back when everyone else is moving forward. Along these same lines, be sure all software and programs you use are utilizing the latest updates and versions. This will significantly reduce unnecessary risk.
Protecting Customers…It’s Your Obligation
You have an obligation to protect your customers’ data. Being careless in how you store, manage, and use their data will come back to bite you in more ways than one. Now’s the time to develop a plan for safeguarding data. How will you respond?
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