Whether you’re running a long-term business concern or are considering the logistics of your new SME, making your company run efficiently and profitably is an ongoing priority. However, as well as the day-to-day management and the continuous search for new clients and profit sources, you also need to make sure that your customers are being protected.
This is not a minor issue, and many companies are falling behind when it comes to online security and the methods that they use to store the personal information of their clients. Managing your customers’ data is as important as making a sale, and from cybercrime to more traditional forms of fraud, failing to take data security seriously can have a negative impact on your business model.
When a customer decides to use your business for a product or service, they are also agreeing to allow you access to a vast array of personal information. That information is being given to you on trust, and there are legal safeguards in place to help make sure that businesses are keeping that data in a secure manner. From home addresses to email account details, you need to ensure that you are protecting that information from hacks and malware, misuse and alteration. Even contact details like phone numbers and email addresses need to be protected, so it’s important that you take security concerns into account when looking at your data management.
Paper and data
Your privacy management needs to encompass both your data security and the paper trail. It’s all well and good to have two-step verification processes, but that isn’t going to be much use if your paper invoices are stored in an open tray on your desk. While the majority of your data protection strategy needs to be focused on online issues, it would be a basic error not to take paper info into account as well.
How safe is your website?
In the UK, customers are protected by the Data Protection Act 1998. This Act is due to change in May 2018 however, when the EU initiates the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will affect every business that hopes to trade with Europe. The GDPR provides many more options for user security, and every business needs to take the changing legal status seriously if they want to carry on their business model into the future. Whether it’s making the transition to a dedicated server to store data, or simply transferring to an encrypted data tool, you need to prioritise the restriction of access to your stored data.
Have a plan
No matter what security protocols you have in place, the chances are that your system will be exposed at some point. Even with malware recognition software and an outsourced IT department, it’s always possible that someone without authorisation will gain access to the private data that you hold. For this eventuality, you need to have a plan in place, including a step by step strategy to alert those affected by any breach and to isolate the security lapse.
As we become more connected in our daily lives and spend more and more time online, our personal data is a target for criminals, and despite changes to the law it is up to you to ensure that you and your customers are protected at all times.