The Importance of Protecting Your Customers’ Data


If you keep pace with the happenings in the tech world, you’re probably familiar with the many high-profile security breaches that have occurred in recent years. Headlines include, among many others, LinkedIn invalidating the login credentials of nearly 167 million of its members after their accounts were hacked; Tumblr admitting that the personal details of 65 million of its users are being sold in the dark web; and most recently, MySpace announcing that the information of more than 360 million users of their once-popular social media site have been compromised.

Perhaps, what’s most alarming is that these data beaches happened to some of the biggest dot-com companies. One would think that with the financial and technological resources available to them, such massive database attacks would never have happened. But as cloud computing and internet-based commerce becomes more ubiquitous, such security breaches will probably only become more frequent in the near future. Security experts and hackers will become ever more locked in a never-ending arms race. 

Safeguarding Your Company From Unnecessary Risks

Already, legislators are on the move to make companies more accountable for data breach incidents, especially if their customers use credit cards to make purchases. In 2015, two U.S. congressmen have introduced H.R. 2205, a data security bill which aims to establish a national data security notification standard for retailers and financial institutions alike. When enacted, the bill will require companies to tell customers if their databases have been hacked. As the law will hold them to the same security standards as banks and other entities in the financial sector, companies must also ensure that proper encryption is always in place to protect customer data, whether it’s in storage or in transit.

But regardless if there is law or none, it only makes sense for your business to share in the responsibility of securing customer data, just like the other parties involved in the commerce chain. After all, these customers trust your business with their information, so any failure on your part to protect their information will have a significant negative impact on your reputation. At worst, this can expose you to legal action and substantial financial loss due to having to pay for damages. At the very least, accidental loss of customer information can cripple your capability to carry out marketing and business development activities. 

Employing Tech Security Best Practices

Best practices when it comes to securing your network include having a strong firewall and employing software that effectively targets malware in your system. Backing up your data to a secondary repository is also good, especially if you have all of your customers’ information stored only locally in servers inside your place of business.

However, a lot of companies these days rely heavily on cloud computing. Because of the huge amount of information stored in cloud servers, data in the cloud tend to be a very attractive target for attackers.

As a precautionary measure, you should make sure that you have a robust and advanced cloud security platform that provides a broad set of functionalities. Ideally, your platform should be able to protect workloads no matter where they run, and they should also allow you to gain instant visibility into your servers while tracking the security posture of all your assets in scope of regulations. As regards to compliance, it is best for processes to be automated to help you not only save time and money, but also to ensure continuous compliance.

Then there is also the human factor. A lot of times, data breaches happen because company employees are not aware of important safety practices. They could download malware-laden applications from sources of questionable nature, or they could unwittingly give away sensitive company data to criminals posing as reputable individuals, say by clicking on a phishing link. Make sure that your people are trained to protect themselves from such attacks.

Moreover, you should also put into place measures that can prevent unscrupulous employees from accessing data that they should have nothing to do with. Make sure that proper identity and access management solutions are used to limit access to such sensitive data.

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