Being a small enterprise, your customer is very important to you, but more important is the data he entrusts you with. If your business process necessitates the requisition of valuable personal and confidential customer information such as credit card details, bank details, address, date of birth, email id, phone numbers etc., then it gets imperative on your part to take adequate actions to safeguard that data from leakage or poaching. Here are a few valuable pointers that can help you protect your customer data.
Keep Data collection to Minimum: Don’t collect unnecessary data but only the most relevant information from customers. It will save you both valuable time and headache to safeguard it.Remember, more you carry, the higher the liability.
Safeguard from Digital Attack: Though with a frugal budget as an SMB you might be tempted to look for cost-effective security measures, remember that security compromise can prove to be a death blow to your business.
• Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect the data.
• Do not use easily breach-able system passwords and other security parameters.
• Encrypt the data across open, public networks.
• Regularly update anti-virus software or programs.
• Develop and maintain secure systems and applications.
• Assign a unique ID to each person with computer access.
• Track and monitor all access to network resources.
• Regularly test security systems and processes.
Strict Personnel Policy: As surprising as it may sound, customer data is highly vulnerable to inside attacks. Yes, employees pose a major threat to it. Follow a few steps to ensure your client data is well protected from internal leakage or poaching.
• Signing Company Policy Document: While hiring an employee, always get the Confidentiality Clause and Non-Disclosure Agreement signed by him. Have strict confidentiality contracts in place, and do not hesitate to use it. Adopt zero-tolerance policy in case there is a violation, it will set the bar for the future.
• Well-protected PC/Laptops: – Maintain a strict password sharing policy that addresses all personnel. – Systems must be locked with strong passwords when not in use. – An employee must not share his clients’ data with his colleagues without the supervisor’s consent.
• Discourage poaching of clientele: An employee handling various clients should ensure to keep the data of his clients separate. There should be strict rules in place regarding using one client’s information for the other.
• Security Education/Training: Invest in security education and training for the staff from time to time. It will keep them aware of the perils of data breach.
Disposal of Data: How you dispose off irrelevant customer data is also very important. Physical records holding important data should not be thrown away in garbage/for recycling but should always be shredded under strict supervision lest they fall in wrong hands.
Likewise, digital data should be removed from drives, servers and backup options. The success and reputation of any business depends on the trust that customers repose in the business. Data theft or loss creates a significant impact on your brand and the way they interact with their customers. Hence, the businesses must ensure adequate safeguards against internal and external threats to customer entrusted data.