The digital world is intruding further and further in the realm of what was once entirely physical. Data can determine not just how we market, but how we gain insights about our market and even our internal processes. Businesses ask for a lot more customer data, nowadays, and to great benefit. But if you don’t know how to keep it safe, it can also be a great risk.
Safeguarding your data
If you want to know how serious data protection is, then you only need to know that most businesses that have a serious breach will close down within two years. With that in mind, it’s worth investing in data security. There are lots of ways to prevent breaches, such as encrypting your data storage, ensuring that data is transferred as little as possible, keeping unencrypted devices out of the office, and so on. If you really want to test the security of a business network, then working with ethical hackers can help. As the name suggests, they are hackers, but they work for you, not against you, helping to highlight any potential exploits that could leave you vulnerable.
Use it responsibly
How you are legally allowed to access, store, share, and use information is a fast-evolving field. You have to make sure your team is up to date with the latest regulations and that you are using it only in the most legally acceptable way. Otherwise, hiring a criminal lawyer on retainer is wise should your business be accused of data theft or other kinds of misuse. It’s easy to break the law inadvertently if you’re not entirely sure what you’re doing with data.
Control who has access to it
A data breach doesn’t always happen from the outside. Sometimes, an opportunistic or grudge-bearing employee could prove the leak. To ensure that this risk is as mitigated as possible, ensure that you tightly control who does and does not have access to the data. If there is a breach, then it’s up to you to detect and prevent data misuse in future. You can, for instance, monitor user actions so that suspicious activity becomes identifiable and you can quickly find the culprit.
Changing policies around the world
Though your website may be hosted and based in one part of the world, it’s on a completely global marketplace. For that reason, you need to consider not how data law affects you domestically, but how it affects your relationship with customers or visitors in other countries, too. For instance, the EU just passed the GDPR, which has some tight restrictions on how businesses ask for and share data. Making your site GDPR compliant is now essential if you want visitors from that part of the world to access it.
If you plan on asking your customers for any data, make sure that it’s completely safeguarded, that access is monitored and that you know both how you are legally allowed to collect it and to use it or share it. Otherwise, you could be in for a major PR and legal disaster.