As a business owner in the digital age, keeping your customers’ data safe should be one of your top priorities. As hackers get more sophisticated and begin targeting small and medium sized businesses with weaker security standards, an attack or leak is practically inevitable. To keep up, data privacy and security should be factored into the decision making in every department of your business. It’s important to take inventory of your current security systems, and make improvements where necessary. As we all spend more time and put more information online, there needs to be more efforts made to protect that data. Though this is just the start, take these principles into consideration for your business’s data security regulations.

Understand your data

To start, evaluate what data you have stored, where you store it, who it is shared with, and if you have any security measures currently in place. Creating, maintaining data inventories and data flows will help you stay updated on the changing data security landscape.

Don’t collect data you don’t need

Remember – no one can steal what you don’t have. When was the last time you reconsidered what data you collect from your customers? If you ask for email addresses and passwords when customers make accounts on your page, is that necessary? Don’t ask for information that isn’t directly related to your business. This could also help you gain more subscribers or customers, if your current system asks for information that people don’t feel comfortable sharing.

Hold on to information only if your retention policy requires

If you collect personal information, don’t keep it for longer than your approved retention policy. If you hold on to it for longer, you are putting your organization or customers at risk. Look for other areas where you are storing old personal data that you don’t need anymore, and dispose of it in accordance with your retention policy.

Control access to your data

Not every employee needs access to your most sensitive accounts and information. Consider using multiple user accounts so information is only given on a “need to know” basis. Adjust your protocols to ensure that only authorized employees with a business need have access to people’s personal information.

Require strict passwords

All employees should be required to use unique, complex passwords, and to use different passwords for every account. This is also helped by using multiple user accounts instead of one master login for administrative databases.

Store sensitive information securely

Use strong cryptography to secure confidential material during storage and transmission, through every step of its journey. If you store passwords for customers or employees, they should not be stored as clear, readable text that is easy for hackers to access. Your business needs procedures to store passwords securely and correctly. This can also be remedied by adopting two-factor authentication, which can help protect against password breaches. Make sure you are using the latest industry-standards for databases and other encryption. Trust that the experts have found the best solution, especially for securing data.

Secure remote access

Increasingly, employees are doing their work outside the office. Whether you work with freelancers or employees that sometimes work remotely, you need to take extra steps to secure access. Make sure every computer you send remote access to is secure and has the proper security in place. This includes employees and other businesses you may be working with. Make sure you install antivirus programs on all employee computers and that software is kept up to date.

Updating your practices for preserving data privacy can seem overwhelming, but it’s a necessity for business in the digital age. If you’re looking for support as you improve your own security measures, contact us for more security awareness assistance.