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7 Steps to Protecting Your Customer's Data
7 Steps to Protecting Your Customer's Data

In business, maintaining your customer’s trust is crucial to your continued success, especially if you're doing business on the Internet.

That means that customer data protection isn't a concern just for big Internet companies like Amazon and eBay. Whether your customers are individuals or businesses, it’s imperative that you safeguard their information.

According to FBI estimates, U.S. businesses lose approximately $67.3 billion annually due to computer-related crimes. The incidence of cybercrime is so high that some jurisdictions are now imposing stiff fines on companies that, wittingly or unwittingly, expose customer data.

Consumers are getting wary as well. In a survey sponsored by TRUSTe, 89% of U.S. consumers revealed that they avoided doing business with companies that they thought didn’t protect their privacy.

So, how exactly do you earn your customer’s trust? By implementing these seven best practices, you'll be able to protect your business from expensive data breaches while ensuring your customers' information remains safe.

1. You should have a privacy policy

You should be transparent about what information you collect from your customers, and how you use the data collected. Also, explain in easy-to-understand terms how you safeguard their private information.

2. Reassess your data collection and retention procedure

Are you collecting unnecessary personal information? Review the information that you collect from your customers. Keep what you need and securely dispose of what you don’t to limit the amount of data that can be stolen should a breach occur.

3. Encrypt sensitive customer data

As smartphones become more popular, more people now access company data via their mobile devices. Similarly, as more companies embrace telecommuting, workers are now able to work remotely. While telecommuting and mobile access have many benefits, the risks are also high. Smartphones can be stolen while remote connections can be intercepted using “man in the middle” attacks. As such, it’s vital that you encrypt private customer information to keep it safe.

4. Limit access to sensitive customer information

With more people having access to private information, there’s a greater chance of that information being exposed, which is why it’s critical that you compartmentalize sensitive information to keep it secure. Only give access to employees who need it, and limit the amount of information shared as much as possible.

5. Ensure that your partners and vendors follow your privacy policy

If your partners or vendors have access to your customers' data, you must ensure that they have the same, if not better, privacy policy in place, because regardless of whether the breach happened on their end or not, you’re the one responsible to your customers.

6. Educate your employees

Consider implementing internal security measures to mitigate the possibility of social hacking incidents. Train your employees in proper handing of private customer data as well as in spotting phishing attacks. While data protection is primarily an IT issue, maintaining the integrity of customer information must be a shared responsibility for everyone in the company.

7. Secure your internal network and workstations

It only takes one malware infection to undo all your hard work and the goodwill you’ve established with your customers over the years should a breach occur. So, be sure to invest in enterprise-level protection for your company network and workstations. Protection must be both digital with firewalls and antivirus software as well as physical with smart ID cards for logical access control.

To find more practical business security tips, explore our Learning Center today. For expert advise on ID security, speak with our ID professionals at 1-800-667-1772. You can also reach us using the contact form on this page.

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