How to Keep Your Customers' Data Secure

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Lisa Michaels

Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor and a striving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in the business world. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter @LisaBMichaels.

Cybersecurity and data protection are becoming areas of focus due to the rise in high-profile data hacks. Besides the loss of stakeholder value, a data breach can cause exposure to lawsuits, financial losses and irreparable consequences like a severely tarnished reputation.

Consumers, on the other hand, are increasingly becoming concerned about the security of their personal data. In fact, customers prefer to shop for products and receive services from organizations that adhere to data policies and protection standards. Therefore, the use and protection of customer data should be a priority for any company that values its clients.

Here are some of the key strategies your company can implement to ensure your customers’ data isn’t compromised.

 

Encrypt Customers’ Data

Encryption is the process of encoding sensitive information to make it unreadable to anyone else except the intended party. Encryption plays a vital role in protecting your customers’ data. This technique protects the data from external hackers as well as insider access. You can consider obtaining an SSL Certificate to establish an encrypted linkbetween your website and a client’s browser. You may also want to use strong FTP passwords that do not contain your personal information like name, date of birth, SSN or phone number. Also, ensure that any scripts, platforms, and applications are up-to-date to avoid exploitation of outdated applications.

 

Encryption

 

While protecting customer information involves a vast array of technologies, services, and policies, encrypting data at rest and data in transit will provide you with an additional security layer in protecting customer information from data breaches.

Don’t Store Sensitive Data A customer database is a must-have for every business. However, when acquiring information, businesses should only collect the personal information they need like names and addresses. Do not simply collect sensitive information because you think it may be useful at a later date.

Personal information required at a particular time becomes a liability if it is stored longer than necessary. Therefore, if you need the information later, collect it at that time.

After collecting the necessary information, do not store the data unless you have a good business reason to store it. The stored data should only be used for lawful purposes e.g. storing Social Security numbers for tax purposes.

Customer records should frequently be revised to make sure a minimal amount of data is stored. Also, ensure that the software used to read and process customer data isn’t saving the information.

 

Train Your Employees

Training your staff about online safety is a crucial step towards the safety of your customers’ data. Your employees need to understand the importance of protecting customer information as well as their responsibilities when it comes to network access usage. Help them understand the risks associated with data breach by teaching them how to make sound judgments online.

Develop clear IT security policies that will be provided to new staff members during the induction training as well as refresher training to ensure your entire workforce is aware of the policies in your company.

 

Training

 Your employees need to know that by clicking on links in emails from unknown senders and downloading attachments they can unknowingly install malware that can give hackers access to your customers' data. Once they have a person's private information hackers can even commit identity theft. Knowing how to prevent this from happening is your employees' responsibility.

 

Use a Wiping Program

Electronic storage devices lock every piece of information that ever passes through them regardless of whether you deleted it or if it was just a temporary file. Having your employees’ devices stolen or lost could have sensitive customer data fall into the wrong hand. This makes your company’s computers and other mobile devices your worst enemies when it comes to protecting your client data privacy. Use remote wipe software to remove files from a hard drive permanently. Once a hard drive has been erased, no recovery program can extract previous data stored in the drive. Additionally, the software programs have a free disc space wipe that wipes up all the free space on the hard drive which may contain previously deleted files.

 

Final Thoughts

Due to the increase in data leakage scandals, customers have become warier of companies they entrust with their personal information. Use the discussed techniques to protect your customers’ information and minimize the possibility of a data breach.

Voice of the Customer Buyer's Guide

 

Posted on 04-25-2017