If your business interacts with customers over the internet, you’ve probably collected lots of customer data.
And stealing your customer data can be very lucrative to cybercriminals who know how to extract it.
Customer data protection is far from easy, but it’s very much needed. Let’s talk about how businesses should handle and secure customer data.
1. Collect only the essentials
First thing’s first – the less data you have, the lower the risks and the possible damages of cyberattacks. You probably couldn’t operate your business without some customer data, but you should make sure you only collect and store the essentials.
Sit down, take a look at all the data your customers give you, and chuck out the info you don’t need. It’s easier said than done, but the process alone will allow you to get to know your clients better.
Additionally, if you discover that you’re accidentally hoarding heaps of customer data you don’t need – don’t be afraid to delete it. Just make sure to delete the data properly.
2. Make customer data privacy a priority
You have to make sure everyone who handles customer data has at least some cybersecurity training. Because let’s face it – your clients and the data they bring are your business.
That’s why it’s important to have separate private and business accounts. Human error is often an entry point for hackers, and anyone handling your customer data needs to be aware of the latest cybersecurity threats.
3. Data storage safety is paramount
How you store the data is just as important as who’s handling it.
Nowadays, you can choose between in-house and cloud-type data storage. So, whether it’s data you’re actively using or a backup, it has to remain available only to you.
On-site data storage is done with the help of hardware, usually in a server room somewhere. On the other hand, cloud storage offers you to save the data, well, in the cloud.
Also, you should keep your customer data encrypted for extra safety, no matter which system you choose. Encrypted cloud storage for business would be the safest, most practical option since there’s no hardware involved, and the encryption keeps your customer data safe.
4. Set customer data access boundaries
Not everyone needs to have access to customer data. In fact, the lower the number of people who do have access, the better. Handling customer data is a delicate task, and it should be done only by trained employees.
It’s not only about the cyber attacks. An inexperienced employee can accidentally delete a crucial chunk of customer data or roll back to a backup. There is a lot of room for error, so it’s best to leave customer data access to trained personnel.
The math is simple – you significantly lower the risks of cyberattacks by limiting access to customer data.
5. Stay vigilant
Lastly, when it comes to handling customer data, the most important step is to stay focused. Cybersecurity is no joke, especially when it comes to businesses with clients. Here’s how to get started:
- Update your devices regularly (apps, OS, and firmware)
- Implement encryption wherever possible (even in internal communication)
- Read up on the latest cybersecurity trends in your sector
- Invest in employee cybersecurity training
Handling and securing customer data is something every business should be (and will be) doing, no matter the niche they’re in. If your business operates online, it needs at least a basic customer data security routine.
To summarize – don’t over-collect data, get everyone on board, limit access to customer data, and use encryption wherever possible.