Securing customer data in your business – adapted to ‘How to protect your business from Cyber Threats’
Digital security spans across securing customers’ assets, infrastructure, identity in a connected world. If you collect personal customer information, then you are responsible for keeping that data safe and secure. Any major breach can lead to loss of customers, financial losses, damage to reputation, and even legal or compliance implications. Here are some of the steps you can take that would help you manage and protect your data.
Privacy concerns are universal. While data is crucial for businesses to provide the right service to their customers especially in key segments like finance and healthcare, securing your networks and connectivity, data and applications, and user devices and platform with various type of solutions is just as crucial to building trust with your ecosystem. Research shows that users are concerned about data security and privacy issues, and multiple surveys have found it to be the biggest cause for concern, especially as the number and severity of data breaches increases. That means it should also be top of mind for companies and that they need to continually re-evaluate and update their data privacy policies and strategies.
Here are some of the steps you can take to safeguard your data to minimise the risk of data breaches, no matter how big or small your company is:
Collect Only What’s Necessary: Starting with only what you need from your customer, offer customers the option of whether they wish to share personal information with you or not. For services like finance, banking and medical, this can be a bit tricky but there are rules like HEPAA in the healthcare sector that outline the best practices for these sectors.
Team access: Limit access to customer data only to those that need it for their work. The fewer the people with a genuine need for access, the fewer the opportunities for hackers to strike at a weak point. Your staff need to know the possible risks and vulnerabilities, how to protect customer information, and what to do in case of a data breach. Make sure they are updated and maintain good security practices that do not threaten the infrastructure like using secure passwords, clicking on email links and accessing the relevant data, securely. You need to have clear guidelines on sharing customer data with partners and suppliers. Form an agreement or contract covering all procedures on sharing information with third parties. Set up security controls to ensure that they comply with customer data protection standards.
Monitor: Monitor your customer data for potential threats. Monitoring customer data means staying ahead of potential cyberattacks. Think of it as being a watch guard that ensures the data is safe.
Compliance: Have a cybersecurity plan in place and make sure that it complies with changing regulations, especially in areas that are impacted by new consumer privacy acts. Privacy acts like GDPR and CCPA could become more prevalent globally, which means companies need to be prepared. Staying compliant not only helps your business avoid large fines, but it also signals to customers that your organization is aware of cybersecurity challenges and is working to protect their data.
Transparency: This also means that you need to be transparent. Customers want to be aware of how their data is being collected, used and protected. To gain customers’ trust, you must be transparent about cybersecurity. Create a systemized plan for transparency, including regularly updating customers on their security and giving them options to opt-out of data collection or for deleting information altogether once you have no need for it.
Electronic waste: Paper documents should be shredded or disposed of in secure bins to avoid any possible security breaches. Electronic data needs to be carefully disposed of. Merely moving electronic files such as emails and documents to the trash bin does not mean that the data has been permanently deleted. Your tech support teams should have that as part of their Crisis Management Plan.
Crisis management: There should always be a crisis management plan that covers the detailed procedures for staff and managers to follow if a data breach occurs. It outlines the process of investigation and specifies pertinent steps such as the disconnection of computers, printers and other equipment connected to the network affected by the breach. It may also include the steps to notify authorities and affected customers in case of a serious data breach.
The key to preventing data breaches is to handle customer data responsibly from collection, transfer, processing, storing and disposal. Educate your team about data protection policies and best practices. Better still, work with the experts that know and understand the value of protecting this data.
With its SMB focused digital security propositions, Etisalat is helping its customers secure their networks and connectivity, data and applications, and user devices and platform with various type of solutions that include:
- Cloud firewall: Etisalat’s Business Edge internet bundles come with an in-built cloud firewall that ensures your network is protected and users only have access to sites approved by the company’s management.
- Endpoint security: All broadband services have one or several Windows/Mac endpoint security antiviruses bundled without extra fees.
- Mobile security: All business users can download the Etisalat application on Android where Etisalat has embedded mobile antivirus by default or free of cost.
- Email security: Etisalat has stand-alone email security for mail server owners or Office 365 subscribers to ensure there is no malware and users have less spam.
- Web security is another stand-alone cloud-based service which makes sure that users are safe and that they are following the company policies wherever they are.