Business protection

5 Ways businesses can protect customer data

In any business, reliability and trust are essential. Your startup will not thrive if you do not know how to keep your clients satisfied. They want to know their data is safe in your hands. Here are five proven ways to ensure that customer data is safeguarded from hackers and other cybercriminals.

Distinguish sensitive info from other data

It’s important to know which types of data are the most important in the database. You do not want the IT hardware and software tackling everything the same way. The company must allocate its resources well to ensure efficiency and preparedness for any cybersecurity issues.

The most crucial data must remain separate from other types of data. Place it through a firewall and get an intrusion detection system (IDS). This is either hardware or software designed to look into computer networks and spot any unusual or abnormal occurrences. Your IT department can set it in such a way that it sends an alert if ever a violation of company policies are detected.

Likewise, you can have a security information and event management (SIEM) system for your company as well. This usually works in tandem with IDS. If any questionable digital activity is observed, the IDS can send a report to the IT department and place it in the SIEM system as well. All reports the system gathers are then cross-checked with other findings to determine which threats are real or not.

Hackers find it easy to infiltrate networks that have no capable monitoring system. An IDS will keep customer data behind another layer of security. With it, cybercriminals cannot just locate critical data and transfer it over the Internet; they must first break through the IDS.

Address problems with using multiple devices

Safeguarding customer data in office computers alone can be a daunting task for the IT team. But with companies exploring the idea of more flexible working operations, many people now conduct work using their own devices. As long as they have a smartphone, tablet, or laptop, they can continue to work outside office hours at home or in coffee shops.

While this helps them employees remain productive, the increase in devices gives hackers more entry points to infiltrate. Everyone in the workforce must know how to use computers in a responsible manner. If they will use company software, they should not log in using public wifi if they do not have a VPN.

Just because some free wifi networks provide the fastest connection between users doesn’t mean they’re the best option. Employees must keep in mind that they cannot let others know their login details. Otherwise, they put customer data at risk of getting leaked. Aside from implementing encryption features, they should keep an eye on their belongings; no amount of cybersecurity can stop a thief.

Advocate the use of strong passwords

Another crucial step in securing company data is for everyone in the company to change their passwords to stronger ones. Using short passwords or ones with no special or uppercase characters isn’t advisable. People must change passwords every once in a while.

Likewise, they should avoid using the same password for all of their accounts. This reduces the damage of a successful hacking attempt. Even if the cybercriminals identified your email password, they won’t be able to access company apps. In addition, workers shouldn’t share login details with another.

Limit access to crucial customer data

Not every employee should have access to all the data. If their job function does not require it, they should not be able to see it. Learn to identify which departments can look into customer data using their accounts. Furthermore, people within departments must have different authorization levels.

The IT department is tasked with maintaining IT operations, but this doesn’t mean every member can look at every activity. Use the vertical organizational structure when determining who gets access to what. This way, knowledge about client data is kept only among a select few — reducing the chances of inside jobs.

Apply better encryption methods

Critical customer data requires the use of complex encryption. Your business must be willing to invest in pricier encryption measures that aren’t merely reliant on cloud services. Use a decentralised database and apply the SHA-256 cryptographic hash function — the same one used by Bitcoin to confirm transactions. In fact, the U.S government uses SHA-2 to protect sensitive documents.

Furthermore, companies must ensure that all cybersecurity measures are checked as well. Engineers and security professionals should update anti-malware and monitoring software. Identify any changes in company policies or guidelines and see if there are any vulnerabilities in need of fixing.

People trust businesses that respect their privacy. If a company does not know how to protect its customer data, it will put many people at risk of identity theft and financial losses. Security solutions may prove costly, but their benefits will outweigh the expenses in the long run.