Seven out of ten customers say they would stop working with a company after it experiences a data breach.
Hackers are not only targeting the IT infrastructure of major companies, but they are now actively targeting the resources of small businesses and startups. One of their primary areas of interest is customer data. They aim to profit from any customer data they lay their hands on.
As an organization, your responsibility is to protect any information your client has entrusted you with.
To build customer trust and protect the future of your business, use the following data protection techniques.
Don’t Keep What You Don’t Need
One of the major mistakes businesses make is collecting information they don’t need.
Although a company needs to gather customer data to learn their buying habits, behaviors, and interests, this doesn’t mean you have to collect and store every detail concerning a customer. You should only store personally identifiable data when you have a compelling reason to keep it.
Credit card information, social security numbers, and other unique personal information are better left unstored. It takes a lot of energy and resources to protect and manage sensitive information, and the risk is always significant when this data is exposed.
Remember that confidential data is always an enticing target for hackers. Your customers will also be at ease if you let them know that you only collect the necessary information.
Be Strict About Password Protection
Surprisingly, the most popular password in the world is 123456.
Most companies still use the default passwords that came with their devices and user accounts, while others have set up easy-to-remember passwords. Although there is nothing wrong with using a password you can remember, make sure it isn’t apparent.
Simple passwords can be quickly cracked by hackers, enabling them to steal any valuable information you have.
To protect against password attacks, reassess your company’s password policy.
Reset all the passwords of your business applications, emails, social media accounts, computers, and network devices. Don’t use the same password twice; use long passwords that include uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
Ensure your employees also create strong passwords since hackers may exploit an employee’s password to enter your system. To keep track of the multiple passwords, use a password manager.
Install and Update Your Security Software
If you currently don’t have security software, it’s time to get one. Security software helps keep out hackers by blocking unauthorized access, notifying you when an attack is underway, and removing harmful programs from your computers.
There are many antiviruses, firewalls, and cybersecurity tools in the market, and you need to look for one that suits your business and security needs.
Apart from installation, you must regularly update all security software, work applications, and operating systems. Updates and patches help close any backdoors that digital criminals may use to penetrate your system and steal sensitive information.
Train Your Employees
Nine out of ten data breaches are caused by human error.
Investing in top-level security systems isn’t enough if your employees aren’t trained on how to protect customer and company information. Employees with no cybersecurity skills or knowledge are bound to commit mistakes that compromise client data security.
Develop a training program to ensure every person who works in your company is equipped with the proper security training. The training should cover password security, safe online browsing habits, identifying red flags, and reporting security incidents.
Not every employee needs to access customer information. You should create an access policy and grant different permission levels to employees depending on their role within your company. A small number of trustworthy employees should only access sensitive data.
Even if you trust an employee, only grant them access if they need the data to perform a particular task within their job description. Without an access policy, a rogue worker may steal, sell, alter, or destroy a vital company or customer data.
Encrypt User Data
Hackers have sophisticated capabilities that they can use to intercept data that is in transit. Encryption denies the hacker the ability to open and read the data. Even if they steal a sensitive file, they won’t manage to open and read the contents.
You should encrypt customers’ payment details, all sensitive information that you store, any files you send over a network, and any data you send via email. For the best results, use the latest encryption technologies.
Perform an IT Security Audit
To know whether your security measures are watertight, you should work with a professional IT security auditor. These experts have the skills, experience, and tools to assess your configurations, technologies, and infrastructure, and identify any risks that come out of the security audit.
Use IT security auditors with the skills, experience, and tools to assess your configurations, technologies, and infrastructure and identify any risks from the security audit.
The auditor’s report will help you identify vulnerabilities and give you actionable information that you can utilize to create a rock-solid security infrastructure.
Every company needs to be transparent with how customer information is collected, stored, and used. If you want to build trust and long-term relationships with your customers, contain only the necessary data, protect it with encryption tools and firewalls, limit access to it, and regularly update your security systems and policies.
Keen to read more articles on IT security? Click here for Cloud Security Threats Businesses Can Avoid.