A Small Business Guide to Protecting Customer Data and Information

Small Business Cyber SecurityThe amount of time we spend on the Internet rocketed last year due to the global pandemic. We buy online, spend our free time surfing the web, work in the digital space, and open web-based businesses. Basically – we live online – and leave a lot of our personal information there. A consequence of that significant shift is that it has opened up a wider field for hackers to obtain this data.

It’s a challenge for all business owners. If you run a business, you know that it’s impossible not to gather and process your customers’ data and information. And you know that they put a lot of trust in your measures to keep them secure. So you must ensure that their data is safe from cyberattacks and data breaches.

GDPR Compliance

The European Union controls the General Data Protection Regulation; it provides a set of guidelines required to be adhered to regarding the data processing of individuals in the EU. GDPR regulates what you do with the personal information that you access, what happens to the sensitive data, and how it’s shared and stored.

Experts from Bulletproof revealed a cybersecurity report proving how many companies are in breach of GDPR without even realizing it and why a situation like that takes place. Even though the regulation might seem complicated, you must understand it and classify the data you store.

There are plenty of requirements that you should adhere to. One of those is making your privacy policy public, so all your clients’ data processes are outlined. If you’re still unsure whether your company is GDPR compliant, it’s worth conducting an audit of personal data protection.

Dedicated Service

One of the most significant preventive measures to prevent cyberattacks is resigning from a shared server to host files. Even though shared servers are cheaper, the possibility of data breaches is higher as you run your websites and scripts at the same place as other companies. If you switch to a dedicated server where only your company has access, you reduce the risk of hackers or malicious sites obtaining sensitive data.

Data Encryption

When sensitive information is transmitted between your client’s browser and your webserver, it’s incredibly crucial that this information is adequately encrypted.

To encrypt the data effectively, make sure that your website uses the HTTPS protocol and SSL Certificate, which stands for “Secure Sockets Layer.” It means that any third party doesn’t have access to your customers’ data, and the transit of information is safe. Your clients can be assured that the connection is secure if they see the padlock icon in the browser next to your URL.

PCI Compliance

If you run an e-commerce store or deal with Internet money transfers, make sure you’re PCI DSS compliant. This acronym stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard that aims to protect your customer’s credit card data. Stealing credit card information is one of the most common frauds in the online world, not only for individual entities but also for bigger corporations.

Now each merchant has to prove annually that their store is PCI compliant. Otherwise, you can be fined significantly large sums of money. The requirements are implemented for prevention detection and fast reaction to cardholder security breaches and are an inevitable measure to prevent payment hacking.

Keep Only the Necessary Data

If you don’t need your client’s personal identification information, or there’s no specific reason for keeping their sensitive data – don’t do it. The more data you store, the higher the potential risk of being a victim of a cyberattack.

If there’s a piece of information, you need temporarily, delete it after the final transaction, rather than keep it in your database. Plenty of corporations store data that breach the customers’ privacy; they use their home addresses or keep psychological ad targeting profiles. If your business is smaller, and you don’t need to hold on to specific information, keep nothing beyond what’s needed to run your business.

The Bottom Line

Only last year, there were 445 million cyberattacks. So never take the misleading attitude that you’ve already taken enough steps to protect your customers’ data. You might fall into the hackers’ slippery hands anytime and anywhere, so be prepared. In 2021 it’s more important than ever to protect your customer’s data and continually increase your cyber protection measures.

Make a checklist, and ensure that you’ve completed all the points from this short guide. If necessary, conduct an audit to avoid unpleasant surprises. You want your data to be kept private, so do the same for your clients. Finally, you’ll see that greater consumer trust means better results for your business.

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