Protecting your clients’ data is vital to your reputation and customer relationships, but it may also be a legal requirement. Companies that don’t adequately protect their clients’ information could be subject to steep fines under the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. Other federal regulations that impose tight controls over how companies can handle customer data include HIPAA, FISMA, FERPA, and GLBA.
The Better Business Bureau also has high expectations for businesses that collect and manage customer information. Here are some of the most important steps that your business can take to protect customer data.
Secure Your In-House Systems
Image via Flickr by wocintechchat.com
Your own company’s computer system is the first item to secure. If you don’t have proper firewalls and encryption in place, your data is an easy target. Don’t hesitate to build in layers of security, even if it seems redundant. Make sure your system is surrounded by a strong firewall, and keep your anti-virus programs updated constantly.
Delete Old Data
There’s no reason to be responsible for data you aren’t even using. Clean up your files often and remove any records or files you’re not currently using. If you aren’t willing to discard the data, at least remove it from systems that are connected to the outside world and store it on hard drives in a secure, off-site location along with your backup files.
Use a Secure Server
If your website collects customer data, be very cautious about who you use as a web host. If you’re using a shared hosting service, there could be thousands of other sites using the same server, which leaves you vulnerable to cross-side server attacks. That means a hacker could open an account on your server to gain access to your data. Many web hosts go to great lengths to keep shared server data secure, but if you want more security, choose a virtual private server or a private server instead.
Sign Up for Security Brokerage
Cloud access security brokers (CASB) are an extra line of defense for businesses that store or transmit sensitive data via the cloud. This software can either be cloud-hosted or stored on your in-house system to enforce security, compliance, and governance policies for any cloud-based applications you use. These systems, which has been named one of the top security systems of 2017 and a CASB Magic Quadrant soon to be published, help your company apply its in-house security controls into its cloud storage.
Monitor Your Staff
It’s easy to think of data security as something fully electronic, but the truth is that humans are the greatest threat to your data. The hackers who want into your system know how to exploit and manipulate your staff using realistic phishing emails to get their passwords or catching them unawares when they transmit sensitive data over vulnerable systems. Train your employees continually on data security. Make sure they know which customer information should never be sent by email and how to sidestep phishing attempts. While this may seem obvious, you also have to ensure that they don’t write their passwords on sticky notes and adhere them to the front of their computers.
Customer data is gold in today’s marketplace. It’s essential to treat it with the same care you would extend to cash or other valuables and constantly update your safety protocols.