Protecting customer data is more important than ever. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, data breaches reached an all-time high in 2017. Below are five ways you can protect customer data as a business owner.
- Encrypt data
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, a truism that goes double for things like bank routing digits and employee financial data—information that often gets left lying around, in hard copy or on hard drives. Ensure that data is kept safe by employing full-disk encryption tools. Most operating systems have them, and setup doesn’t have to compromise computing speed.
- Separate business and personal accounts
While it’s tempting to check personal emails at work, ensure that private accounts are kept separate from work accounts. That way any private security breaches don’t lead to compromised customer data. Says Paul Ewing, of Prosperity Advisory Group, “Guard what you allow to be uploaded or attached to your computers, and don’t forget to encrypt, encrypt, encrypt.”
- Perform security assessments (and update software accordingly)
It’s important for business owners to perform an honest assessment of in-house security protocols, with a particular focus on antivirus software, firewalls, DDoS appliances, and encrypted backups. Consider using the Gordon-Loeb Model when assessing how much to spend on cybersecurity.
- Enforce restrictive data permissions
According to Moe Adham of Bitaccess Inc., the majority of data breaches aren’t sophisticated attacks through backdoors. “Most breaches occur through the front door due to an employee breach,” he says. Make sure that employees only have access to data that is vital for their jobs. Security expert Michael Baker recommends implementing employee tracking systems: “each employee should have a unique access ID and should be authenticated using a strong password.”
- Educate employees on cybersecurity protocol
Make sure all employees with access to sensitive data understand the importance of keeping data secure. Regular check-ins, whether individually or in the form of company-wide workshops, can help make sure that your employees, like your software, remain up-to-date about any upgrades to security protocols and software. It’s best to establish a culture of cybersecurity from the very beginning to curb lapses of attention from employees.