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Customer data protection 101: What businesses need to know

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Modern businesses collect and store a vast amount of customer data, including addresses, contact details, previous purchases and other brand interactions, Social Security numbers, and credit card numbers. This wealth of data allows them to understand customer preferences, tailor marketing strategies, and provide personalized and seamless customer experiences. 

However, businesses must also realize the huge responsibility that goes with collecting and storing customer data. 

Why should businesses prioritize protecting customer data?

Implementing customer data protection measures will enable your business to achieve the following:

Build customer trust and company reputation

When customers provide their personal information to your business, they trust that it will be handled responsibly. By prioritizing data protection, you show your commitment to securing customers’ personal information. This in turn allows you to increase customer loyalty and trust.

On the flip side, if your customers have no faith in your security measures, they’ll turn to your competitors. After all, if customer data falls into the hands of cybercriminals, it can be used to commit identity fraud and other malicious activities. 

Comply with legal and regulatory requirements

Data protection is not just good business practice; it is often a legal requirement. Depending on your industry and location, there may be specific regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and the Florida Information Protection Act that govern how customer data should be handled. Failure to comply with these regulations can lead to hefty penalties and a damaged business reputation.

Mitigate financial risks

A data breach can have severe financial implications for your business. The costs associated with data breaches include potential legal expenses, regulatory fines, loss of customers, damage to brand reputation, and the cost of recovering and securing compromised data. In fact, IBM Security’s Cost of a Data Breach 2022 report found that the average cost of a data breach in 2022 is $4.35 million — a 2.6% increase from 2021 and a 12.7% increase from 2020. 

The best way to defend against data breaches and the resulting financial losses is to implement a well-rounded data protection framework.

Read our FREE eBook on customer data protection

How can companies protect customer data? 

Your business can safeguard customer data by implementing the following data protection measures:  

Establish security and privacy policies

Establish a clear data security and privacy policy that outlines how you collect, use, and secure customer data. Communicate this policy to your customers, emphasizing your commitment to protecting their information.

Restrict access to data

Use role-based access controls to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data. Grant necessary permissions to employees based on their roles and responsibilities. Moreover, regularly review and update access privileges to ensure that former employees or unauthorized individuals cannot access sensitive information.

Educate employees

Educate your employees on your company’s data security and privacy policy and the consequences of violating it. You should also train them on how to handle customer data securely, adopt safe cyber habits, and identify and report potential security threats. 

Secure data storage and transmission

To keep customer data safe, your company should use strong security measures. Having end-to-end encryption is crucial because it turns data into code that is unreadable to those without the decryption key. This protects data from being stolen or accessed by unauthorized individuals.

When accessing information online, make sure to use secure file transfer protocols and SSL/TLS encryption, as this will help prevent unauthorized people from intercepting your data.

Regularly back up data

Implement a robust data backup strategy to ensure that customer data is not lost in the event of hardware failures, natural disasters, or malicious attacks. Regularly back up data to secure off-site locations or use cloud-based backup solutions that offer robust security measures.

Develop an incident response plan

Despite having all these preventative measures in place, a data breach could still occur, so you need a plan for responding to it. This plan should include notifying customers, investigating the breach, and taking steps to prevent future data breaches. 
predictiveIT can help you develop and implement robust data protection measures to safeguard your customer and company data. Book an appointment with us today.