How to Safeguard Your Customer Data

If your business collects sensitive information such as personal details, credit and bank information, it’s your duty to protect it. Data security is one of the most important aspects of a business because a data breach could have serious consequences. 

With GDPR, the central legislation on all data protection in the EU, businesses who fall foul of it can face a fine of up to €20 million or 4% of their annual worldwide turnover (whichever is greater). Since GDPR came into force, there have been fines of €114m handed out from 160,000 data breaches, according to the law firm DLA Piper. The largest fine was given to Google in France for a lack of transparency over the way they handle data. 

There are various things every organisation must do to protect the data you have on your customer. 

1. Stay up to date with Encryption

The technologies used for encryptions and the processes involved are growing at a rapid rate. Organisations that haven’t reviewed or updated their encryption practices are those most vulnerable to attacks. You must establish a regular schedule to see if your current encryption technology and practices are up to date. This must also be applied to all security-related technology because outdated legacy systems leave your business at the mercy of hackers. 

2. Implement Baseline Security

Baseline cyber security is the minimum required for all businesses. This includes anti-virus protection, firewall security, multi-factor authentication and web & email security. Without it, you leave yourself exposed to hackers who can easily steal customer data from vulnerable systems. Not only will implementing these highlight weaknesses in your system, it will also ensure you have the necessary protection you need to safeguard data.

3. Restrict Access to Information

Not everyone in your business needs to see the personal information of customers. You must restrict access of that information and only give access to those employees who must access it as part of their role. This ensures there are fewer opportunities for hackers to strike a weak point.

4. Collect Necessary Data

Businesses who collect unnecessary customer data are not only wasting resources but also creating a bigger cache of data for cyber hackers to target. There will be customers who won’t like the amount of information you’re collecting. You should only collect what you need for business purposes. Under GDPR, customers must have the option whether they want to share personal information with you.

5. Create a Data Retention Policy

With businesses expected to remain compliant with industry bodies, having a data retention policy is expected. You will be expected to keep data for a certain amount of time because of litigation purposes, but there will also be a time when data collected is expected to be removed. This will form part of your policy.

6. Educate Employees to Make Privacy Everyone’s Concern

Privacy shouldn’t just be the concern of the few in your business. Awareness training should be part of your cyber security training to ensure every employee in your organisation understands and implements it. This will include how employees handle outside computers and equipment. 

7. Patch Assessment

Consider using a patch assessment tool to ensure that your operating system and applications are protected with the latest security fixes. Patch management is vital to any business, as hackers can find ways into systems through vulnerable endpoints. If a patch is available for a piece of software, it must be deployed as soon as possible.

8. Gain Cyber Essentials Certification

All the above forms part of gaining Cyber Essentials certification. Cyber Essentials is a UK government initiative to make it simpler for businesses to protect their business and encourage good cyber security policies. By following the five key controls, you can help secure your organisation from cyber attacks. This includes:

● Securing access to network services
● Configuring systems from vulnerabilities
● Ensuring access to data and services is assigned to authorised users only
● Using and maintaining virus and malware protection
● Keeping your applications up-to-date with the correct patches and fixes

The UK government believes that being Cyber Essentials accredited will prevent around 80% of cyber-attacks. It’s also a great way of encouraging everyone in the business to take the necessary steps to safeguard customer data. You can even display the accreditation on your website, to give them confidence about your data security practices.

CyberGuard Technologies can help guide your business through the accreditation. Talk to one of our cyber security consultants today to safeguard your customer data.