In today’s digitized economy, data security can make or break your business. That’s why protecting data should be your top priority. With customers scattered all over the globe, companies need to clearly demonstrate how exactly they’re protecting data privacy in order to earn the trust of their customers, employees, and partners.
Why Do Businesses Need to Protect Data Privacy?
Data breaches are a problem for businesses of all industries and sizes, affecting more than 25% of companies.
The most common types of data security issues include hardware theft, unauthorized network users, and email scams. Most of these breaches are caused by hackers who earn money by using phishing scams and malware to collect personal data.
Now, the cost to fix a data breach can be huge. Big companies that faced such security incidents in the past had to pay millions of dollars to experts in order to solve the problems. A report by IBM revealed that the average cost of a data breach in the US is $8.19M or $242 per lost record. This is more than enough to damage a brand’s image, result in loss of revenue, and push a small business into bankruptcy.
For more information on data privacy protection, check out Prolifics`s piece on GDPR. In the meantime, let’s see how you can reduce the risk and keep sensitive information safe.
9 Ideas for Protecting Data Privacy
1. Make sure to update your cybersecurity.
There’s a number of programs that can protect companies from cyber threats. Look for a paid cybersecurity program that will protect your network and all devices on it. Once you have the program in place, make sure to install all updates right away. Back in 2017, the Equifax breach, one of the largest cybercrimes related to identity theft, happened because the company failed to update Apache Struts. If a cybersecurity program seems like a substantial investment, remember that a breach could cost you significantly more.
2. Keep track of your information
Smartphones, laptops, flash drives, and tablets provide numerous opportunities for storage and transfer of data. But at the same time, they provide cybercriminals with more opportunities to compromise that data. Make sure to keep an inventory: What information are you storing? Where do you store it? How do you use it? Who can access it? This inventory should include both physical documents and digital files containing sensitive information.
3. Get rid of what you don’t need
Too much information can also be a problem. The more information you have about your employees and customers, the more you need to protect them. So, limit what cybercriminals could steal and only save the information that is absolutely necessary. Avoid collecting extra information and get rid of all data that you only needed temporarily.
4. Educate your employees
Your employees are the ones handling sensitive data, so they should know how to protect that data and ensure it doesn’t get compromised. Educate your employees about the latest fraud schemes and urge them to employ best practices like not clicking suspicious links and opening or responding to attachments.
5. Protect yourself from employee fraud
No matter how trustworthy your workers are, there’s always a possibility of someone misusing company funds or stealing information. For that reason, you need to consider conducting internal controls to reduce the risk of employee fraud.
6. Always pay with a business credit card
Using a business credit card for all your business expenses is definitely the safest payment method. Most business cards provide detailed expense reports and allow you to set spending limits for employees and get notified about every transaction. Of course, no payment method is 100% secure but credit cards definitely offer the best security features.
7. Don’t forget to protect physical documents
Even though cyberattacks are more common, there’s always a possibility of physical documents getting stolen or lost. For that reason, you need to ensure that all documents containing sensitive data are protected. Keep physical documents in locked rooms or file cabinets and give access only to your most trusted employees. In addition, make sure to dispose of the documents your no longer need by using a shredder.
9. Be prepared to respond to a breach
Finally, always be on the lookout. Consider setting up a protocol for responding to possible data breaches because a quick and efficient response could save you tons of money. Here are a few ideas of what to include in your plan:
- Shut down and disconnect all compromised devices and stop using compromised programs.
- Depending on the kind of information that was compromised, you might need to inform your customers and the authorities about it.
- Conduct an internal investigation to discover what went wrong.
And finally, never underestimate the threat. A survey by the Alliance revealed that more than 80% of small business owners believe that big enterprises are more likely to become a target of cybercriminals. This is not true; small businesses have also lost thousands of dollars to data breaches. It can happen to your business too!
Even though the possibility of security incidents can’t be completely eliminated, having proper security practices can help you decrease the risk and reduce the damage in case of a breach.
Author | Emily Forbes
An Entrepreneur, Mother & A passionate tech writer in the technology industry!