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Business Practices to Help Safeguard Customer Information

Tablet on a desk, concept of data protection, blue

Tablet on a desk, concept of data protection, blue

With increased dependence on digital data and the growing number of savvy hackers, business owners must take proactive measures to protect customer information. A business builds its brand by ensuring data like Social Security numbers, bank information, emails and addresses are safe from thieves. Consumers are more vigilant and protective of their data as a result of two high-profile breaches in 2014. Target reported 40 million credit cards were compromised, while Home Depot reported over 56 million consumer accounts were vulnerable to identity thieves.

Here are some business practices to help safeguard customer information:

Build Practices to Keep Electronic Data Safe

Businesses need to employ basic security measures to ensure electronic data is safe. Employ password protection for customer’s accounts and devise word combinations which include capitalized letters, lowercase letters and numbers. Every few months, change these passwords to ensure data continues to stay safe. Along with password protection, companies must protect data by regularly implementing software updates.

Download security programs to safeguard your data and include anti-virus software and encryption services for particularly sensitive information. When an update is available, don’t wait to download it to your business’s computers, but implement it immediately so data is protected from the latest threats. For added security, keep your network safe by adding a firewall.

Protect Printed Sensitive Data

Lock file cabinets where sensitive data is kept and limit access to this information to only a few employees. Use paper shredders to discard customer information which may contain credit card and Social Security information. Thieves are known to dumpster dive to collect this information and if documents aren’t shredded, sensitive customer information is immediately compromised.

Train Your Employees

It is prudent for businesses to emphasize to employees how important it is to keep data confidential. If employees notice suspicious activity, have them report it immediately. Businesses must instruct employees to only download information from reliable sites and caution them against using computers for personal use as this practice might cause a security breach. If laptops and mobile devices are a part of a business’s protocol, make certain these items are password protected and data is encrypted on these sources. Emphasize to employees to use a secure Wi-Fi connection when using a business-associated electronic device. For more information on tips to help train your employees on data security and current issues related to identity theft, use Lifelock Unlocked as a resource.

Use a Safe Payment System

Businesses often take payments online or through portable devices and it is important to secure the integrity of a customer’s account information. It is a good business practice to dispose of payment information after the transaction is completed. If you need to keep this information for any reason, use the following safeguards to ensure data is not compromised: a) use cloud based storage or private network; b) make certain payment option uses Payment Card Industry Security compliance and c) encrypt data so it is unreadable to the intruder.

Monitor Diligently

By regularly updating software, periodically training employees on the importance of keeping data confidential and updating passwords, business are actively monitoring the health of their security measures. If a business uses an outside vendor to store information or critical applications, monitor their practices as well. Ask these vendors how they address security concerns.

Have a Contingency Plan

In case a security breach occurs, have a plan ready to minimize damage to compromised accounts. Ideally, worst-case scenarios are discussed prior to a breach, plans are formulated and employees are trained to act quickly if such an event occurs.

Preventing security breaches and protecting a customer’s data is an effective business practice to not only retain current customers, but also increase other opportunities. Make the security investment now to protect your business’s brand and reputation.

Posted on August 28th, 2015 by Rachel Braam, Office Manager

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