How Safe is Your Customer Data? 5 Things to Watch

Customer data

No matter what kind of business you have, you have customer data to store – at least, if you want to keep up with the times and offer great customer experiences.

But if that data isn’t secure, you don’t just stand to lose your good reputation and your customers’ trust – you could even end up on the wrong side of the law. 

And leaks aren’t the only problem. If you don’t have your customers’ permission to use or store their data, you could be among the many companies that have faced dire penalties for falling afoul of data privacy laws. Consider Facebook’s $5 billion penalty for doing just that.

So, when we think about the safety of customer data, keeping ourselves safe by complying with new legislation becomes as important as ensuring that customer data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Address these important points to avoid common pitfalls.

1. Only Use Secure Data Transfer Channels and Software

Is your customer data secure while it’s in transit? Unsecured channels could open it to users that aren’t meant to access it. The software tools we use matter too.

If they’re hosted online, they might open up a data access point that you didn’t know about. You need third-party experts to check even the best web-based applications before you can put them to work with any degree of confidence. 

2. Ethical Collection and Use of Data

The analysis of user data helps us to understand our customers better. And thanks to AI, we’re able to draw conclusions from data that might surprise, or even upset, our customers.

Should we have gathered certain types of data at all? Data privacy legislation specifies that we need permission to gather and use data, and it’s wisest to only gather the data we need in order to finalize transactions. 

3. Keeping Data Only as Long as is Necessary

If you’re keeping any kind of personal data for longer than you really need to, you may well be on the wrong side of the law. The standard approach is to only keep data for as long as it’s necessary for doing business with people. The longer it’s stored, the more open it is to data privacy breaches, so keep those databases clean!

4. Protect Data From Careless or Malicious Insiders

Working with customer data is a massive responsibility. A good knowledge of the right way to handle and protect customer data as well as a record of absolute trustworthiness is a must for any employee you trust with sensitive data. That means careful background checks and thorough training before any access is allowed. 

5. Know How You’ll Detect and React to Threats

Your customer data may be safe for the time being, but protecting it is like shooting at a moving target. Would you know if you’re facing a threat to data security? Would your staff know what to do if they suspected one? If you’re not sure of the answers to either of these questions, you have work to do!

Compliance Means Access to Top Professionals in the Field

If you’ve been reading all this with dismay and aren’t sure how to solve issues that might lead you to fall afoul of data privacy laws, the solution may be simpler than you think.

Just as you use professional accountants and auditors to ensure tax compliance, you can call on top professionals to help you with data security. If you haven’t done so yet, the time has come to protect your business and your client’s data with the help of experts.

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