When your customers decide to do business with you, they believe you will keep their information safe. Keeping client data secure helps create a positive relationship with your customers and is an excellent way to maintain the reputation you have worked hard to establish. Determining how to protect customer data is essential.

The Importance of Securing Customer Data

Companies of all sizes are evaluating ways to protect their customer data from theft, destruction and unwanted exposure. Protecting customer information can be challenging. Data theft is one of the most present threats to companies today. In quarter three of 2022, there were about 15 million data breaches worldwide, an increase of 37% from the previous quarter. Data breaches compromise company reputations and expose customer data.

After acknowledging the importance of customer data security, the next step is for companies to figure out how to protect customer information. To protect customer data securely, you need to have a solid understanding of how data is accessed and used by your company. Companies can also deploy appropriate security measures to prevent unauthorized access and use of private information.

How Do Companies Protect Customer Information?

Building trust and retaining consumers depends on a company’s ability to safeguard customer data. When you implement these 10 tips on how to protect customer data privacy, you can ensure that your customers’ data remain safe.

1. Educate Employees

Cybersecurity involves more than having the best hardware and software — it also involves employees. Educating all employees is a fundamental best practice. Your employees are on the front lines of your operations. A split-second decision to trust a link supplied to them might be the difference between keeping customer data secure and a multimillion-dollar data breach.

Inform your staff on the whys and hows of data by incorporating it into the onboarding process and reviewing it as needed. Educating your employees about cybercrimes — like phishing scams — might make them feel more comfortable in their positions.

2. Comply With Regulations

Staying compliant helps you avoid hefty penalty fees and shows customers you’re aware of cybersecurity concerns. Depending on where your company operates, there may be specific data protection rules you need to comply with. However, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are well-known consumer data protection standards that are good places to start from:

·     GDPR: The GDPR establishes requirements for businesses that collect and process personal information (PI) from European Union (EU) residents. GDPR applies independently of where you host your business websites. Any sites that draw European users must abide by these rules — even if they don’t expressly offer products or services to EU people.

·     CCPA: The CCPA is the United States’ most robust data privacy policy for consumer protection. It seeks to safeguard California customers’ rights regarding how businesses gather, keep, utilize and sell personally identifiable information (PII).

3. Include Authentication Methods

Weak, stolen or default passwords cause 81% of cybersecurity breaches, making two-factor authentication (2FA) or multi-factor authentication (MFA) critical for your authentication system. Implementing MFA, particularly adaptive multi-factor identification, ensures security across all apps and removes the risk of your customers’ credentials being hacked and their information being stolen.

stats on stolen or weak passwords

Companies can also use software that offers single sign-on (SSO) features. Many people prefer to use a few passwords for several apps, which makes their login credentials easier to remember but also makes them more exposed to hackers. SSO technology enables users to utilize the same login credentials across numerous applications and websites.

Moreover, identity access management (IAM) solutions can help manage user identities and regulate access to company resources. IAM solutions guarantee that the right employees have access to the right IT resources at the right time for the right reasons. They’re a vital component of a security strategy for protecting customer data.

4. Employ a Designated Team

Company owners cannot manage all their customer data alone — a dedicated team of experienced individuals is much better qualified. For example, one can delegate the responsibility to a data protection officer. A data protection officer oversees compliance, auditing and training. They also communicate with regulatory organizations.

Smaller businesses may find it unrealistic to hire such a person. However, it would still be helpful to have someone responsible for managing data safety and security. Otherwise, the responsibility could fall through the gaps. Furthermore, if and when privacy-conscious customers contact you, they’ll want to speak with someone knowledgeable about data security.

5. Be Transparent With Customers

Customers want to know how companies gather, utilize and safeguard their information. Companies must be open and honest about their cybersecurity policies and procedures for protecting customers’ personal information to win their consumers’ trust. Create a plan for transparency, including providing clients with frequent security updates and the ability to opt out of data collecting.

Companies should create a processing or privacy notice and add it to their website under the terms and conditions or privacy policy. If you intend to use cookies, make sure you have a clear cookie policy and a notice that allows consumers to opt out. Provide a simple gateway where clients may view, govern and amend their data in the future.

6. Limit Data Access

Only some people in an organization require access to customers’ data. The vulnerability of internal breaches is reduced by limiting the number of individuals who have access to customer data. Restricting access can be accomplished by enabling password protection for different levels of authority. Enabling two-factor authentication also reduces the danger of compromised credentials.

7. Utilize Recent Data Protection Software

Hackers and technology are continuously developing — therefore, companies’ cybersecurity strategies must evolve. Update your data protection software and devices to the most recent versions, examine your security strategy regularly and take steps to secure customer data.

Updated data protection software typically includes bug patches and upgrades that would otherwise leave company devices vulnerable to breaches. Opt for secure and up-to-date data protection software that offers a comprehensive cloud solution with various data protection features.

8. Use VPNs and Wi-Fi

Protect your company’s wireless network and credentials. If you work from a physical location, make sure you have your own Wi-Fi network rather than using public Wi-Fi or sharing with other businesses. Make a separate network available for guests and employees.

When configuring, use wireless protected access two (WPA2) security methods, which provide encryption and require longer passwords. Change your Wi-Fi password frequently and ensure that any passwords protecting data are lengthy. Use a combination of numbers, symbols and capital letters.

Encourage the usage of a virtual private network (VPN) in instances like employees needing to connect to the corporate server while using public Wi-Fi. A VPN establishes a tunnel that no one can see inside, regardless of the network they’re on.

9. Avoid Cross-Company Data Silos

A data silo is a collection of raw data accessible to one department but not the rest of the company. Efficiency, transparency and trust decrease as a result. Data silos are widespread in bigger organizations since various teams and departments have their own goals and priorities and frequently work independently.

Because data silos occur due to separate databases, some may believe you can avoid data silos by simply importing and exporting those databases. However, data isn’t static — it continuously changes. That’s why businesses need to utilize integration software that simplifies data management.

10. Implement High Standards of Data Security Within Your Organization

Companies can implement high data security standards with a robust cybersecurity plan that they test regularly. Plan for the worst in case you experience a data breach. Smaller companies can use a cybersecurity checklist for reference.

Companies must also describe how the breach happened, what efforts are being taken to control it and what steps they intend to take next. Know who you need to contact to report a breach and act immediately. If you act quickly, you can decrease the chances or receiving a fine or penalty.

Learn More About The OptimalCloud at Optimal IdM

Cybersecurity is critical for modern customers, especially regarding their personal data. To become an industry leader and gain trust, businesses must have a solid data security plan that is constantly tested and adjusted to guarantee consumer data is safe and secure.

The OptimalCloud provides economic and scalable identity, access management and security features such as MFA and SSO. The OptimalCloud integrates with practically any system you have, thanks to secure authentication for mobile devices and over 11,000 app integrations. Everything comes with a fixed, predictable monthly charge and configurable to your needs.

Contact us online for more information!

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  • The database in which all of your organization’s sensitive identity data is stored.
  • A digital ledger in which digital transactions are recorded chronologically and publicly.
  • Securely managing customer identity and profile data, and controlling customer access to applications and services.
  • The means of linking a person's electronic identity and attributes, stored across multiple distinct identity management systems.
  • A legal framework that sets guidelines for the collection and processing of personal information of individuals within the EU.
  • The policy-based centralized orchestration of user identity management and access control.
  • An authentication infrastructure that is built, hosted and managed by a third-party service provider.
  • A security system that requires more than one method of authentication from independent categories of credentials to verify the user's identity for a login or other transaction.
  • A global provider of innovative and affordable identity access management solutions. 
  • Managing and auditing account and data access by privileged users.
  • Tools and technologies for controlling user access to critical information within an organization.
  • An authentication process that allows a user to access multiple applications with one set of login credentials.