With strict regulations regarding protecting customer data in place, the stakes of not doing so are high. Considering the potential reputational risk of a data breach, they become even higher. Whether you choose technical support outsourcing or managing an in-house team, you must make sure that you protect your customer’s sensitive data.
In this article, we’ll look at how you can effectively manage your customer data to avoid breaches and the negative impact they have.
Table of Contents
Strategies for Maintaining Data Privacy and Security
Compliance with Regulations
You’ll need to first thoroughly understand the implications of the data protection regulations that apply to your home country and any others you may operate in. These include the GDPR regulations in Europe and HIPAA in the United States. It’s important to note that you must comply with such regulations even if they’re outside your country if you have customers in the relevant area.
If you outsource support, you must ensure that the company complies with the relevant regulations in their country, your country, and any relevant areas.
A good cybersecurity system isn’t much good if employees are careless. You need to educate them about the importance of data privacy and train them to recognize and avoid threats.
It may prove helpful to see how they respond to simulated phishing attacks and other threats. Furthermore, it’s important to restrict access to sites outside of what’s necessary for work.
Secure Remote Workers
Workers using their own devices or external wireless networks can put your business at risk. It’s crucial to carefully decide who can use their own devices and whether or not remote working is the best option.
If they must work from home, take steps to ensure they have secure internet access and that they keep their devices to themselves.
Manage Physical Access
One area where companies often fall short is managing physical access to their computer systems. You should be careful who you allow behind the desk as you never know if they’ve got ulterior motives.
Say, for example, you have a cleaning service come in at the end of the day. You’ll need to ensure that all the computers are properly logged off to prevent them from accessing sensitive information. If you keep any hard copies of data, you should lock these away.
It’s important to realize that threats may come from an unlikely source. If you found a USB drive lying around the office, would you plug it in to see who it belonged to? Okay, so most of us know better than that, but what about a phone charging cable?
Bad actors today can easily and legally buy chargers that look exactly like an iPhone charger. The difference is that these devices contain a radio transmitter and hacking software. When you charge your phone, the device copies and transmits the information on it.
Employees must learn about the various possible physical threats to be able to avoid them.
Access Control and Authentication
Another good defense mechanism is to implement a layered access system. This means that employees only have as much access as they need to perform their jobs.
In addition, enable a multi-factor authentication system to further secure the system. This could mean using a password, biometric scanning, and a random access code, for example.
You should encrypt data when it moves and when it’s at rest. This means that you protect the information when you transmit it between systems and when you store it on your servers. Choose robust encryption software and make sure that any companies you deal with do the same.
Only collect the data you need to provide adequate support. While it’s tempting to ask for everything from the customer’s name to their shoe size for marketing purposes, having extraneous information puts you at greater risk.Also, the more data you have to protect, the more it costs you to store it.
Secure Communication Channels
Make sure that any communication channels you use are secure, including email, phone calls, and instant chats. Use end-to-end encryption and secure phone lines.
Regular Audits and Vulnerability Assessments
You should conduct regular security audits and vulnerability assessments to identify gaps. Threats advance just as quickly as the means we use to combat them so you need to be proactive in upgrading your security.
Incident Response Plan
Hopefully, you’ll never experience a breach, but there’s no harm in being prepared for one. Create a step-by-step plan in case something goes wrong so that every team member knows how to act. Doing so speeds up your response times which can prove critical during an incident.
Supplier and Third-Party Risk Assessment
If you entrust any customer data to third-party vendors, you must vet them carefully. They must adhere to the same high standards that your team does or they put your sensitive data at risk.
It’s also critical to be open with customers about how you use their data and give them the opportunity to opt out of data collection or marketing communications.
Ensuring data privacy has never been more important for companies than now. It’s crucial to get it right for regulatory and reputational reasons. Going forward, it’ll become more essential to manage data correctly, so companies must take the appropriate action to improve security now.