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10 Steps to Help Protect Customer Data

How concerned are your customers about protecting their data privacy? The answer: very. Safeguarding customer data is imperative to ensuring that sensitive data is never compromised and that trust with customers is not lost due to cyber fraud events. While some industries mandate security protocols, others do not. When customer data is compromised, it is the reputation of the business that will suffer. Cyberattacks like phishing and ransomware cause major business interruptions which can leave companies crippled and stuck incurring unforeseen expenses for incident response and identity theft measures.

 

Taking these proactive steps to protect customer data is paramount for building longstanding trust, protecting your customer's data—and your company's reputation.

Be Proactive!
  • Perform routine backups and keep them offline and offsite. What’s your backup plan? Formalizing strategies to prioritize when, where and how frequent your backups occur is critical to ensure that data can be recovered in the event of a cyberattack. Excellent and affordable tools are available to provide business-grade backups at consumer prices. At an absolute minimum, data should be copied to an external hard drive periodically and stored in a secondary location.

  • Software updates and security patches must be completed with the utmost ferocity. The virtualized nature of hacking employs sophisticated methods that continually seek to find the “open-doors” left by out-of-date software. Keeping software up-to-date closes these doors. Routinely applying hardware, operating system, and application updates is critical for individuals and businesses alike. This is perhaps the most important thing an IT professional or consumer can do to protect computing devices and data.

  • Vulnerability management and remediation practices are one of the best ways for companies to proactively thwart cyberattacks. Vulnerability assessments provide companies with a list of known vulnerabilities and prioritizes weaknesses accordingly. Managing and remediating these vulnerabilities can then be proactively budgeted for.
Double Up and Strengthen your Perimeter
  • Implement dual-factor authentication. Reduce the risk of cyberattacks by taking an additional step to verify the identity of the user before allowing access to a network. These authentication mechanisms are a quick and easy means to add a second layer of security to ensure that only authorized users have access to sensitive data.
  • Confidential information and customer credit card information should never be shared via email. Cybersecurity experts strongly recommend that sensitive data should only be shared using encrypted transfer methods and stored on secure servers.

  • The cornerstone of network security remains the firewall. Firewalls have evolved to contain antivirus, intrusion protection, and web filtering capabilities and have proven to be an extremely effective barrier against would-be cyberattacks.

  • Make sure that free WiFi login credentials are changed on a daily basis. Limiting guest WiFi access helps to guarantee that your network is not being remotely monitored.
Education is the Key to Prevention
  • The most effective asset against data loss can be a workforce which understands what data is important, how to handle it, its value to attackers, and common ways attackers will try steal it. Educational and awareness initiatives are strongly encouraged to promote a culture of protection within a company. Creating a workforce that understands the importance of safeguarding sensitive data can never be understated. Hackers can be extremely tricky. Therefore, it is essential for employees to be able to identify what suspicious emails and spear phishing looks like.
  • Remove nonessential information from company servers. It limits the amount of ID information a hacker would be able to obtain. Have customers utilize apps on their phones to store ID information rather than companies indefinitely storing and sending sensitive information themselves.

  • Implement fundamentals before complexity. The security industry makes a lot of money selling products that provide complex solutions; however, these basic security practices can be performed with minimal investment, will significantly improve core security capabilities, and will reduce the likelihood of data loss due to cyberattacks or physical disasters.

Looking for ways to implement these steps? At Vancord, we deliver solutions and tools to help companies implement a level of security that is right for them. Our team of trained professionals will work with you to provide your company with the proper fundamentals necessary to protect customer data, without the complexity. Contact us today!

 

Read more about cybersecurity protocols in our conversation with American Express. 

Jason Pufahl

Written by Jason Pufahl

Jason is the VP of Security Services at Vancord.

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