Protect Your Customers’ Data: Establishing Privacy and Security Programs

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Privacy and security programs can go a long way in ensuring customer data protection. Beyond the obvious moral and legal obligation, there are reputational risks, severe financial and logistics-related consequences if customer data is exposed in a privacy breach.

A comprehensive privacy and security program will have most of the below-mentioned data security features built-in.

Controlled Access

Treating customer data as the foremost asset class, a company should limit digital and physical access to it, only connecting the systems requiring access to the customer information to the database. Various systems can have various levels of access. Still, there should be a login associated with every data request. Physical access should require authorization.

Encryption

Encryption is everywhere on networks these days, and it’s the most straightforward way of rendering the information unreadable, using a pair of encryption keys. Controlling access to the proper key will also help control access to the data. Encryption will work with all kinds of data and can be deputed easily.

Backups and Recovery

Backups and recovery are perhaps the most crucial customer data security features. No matter the extent and severity of the breach, a backup and recovery plan will protect against total system failures, data corruption, disaster, etc.

Data Disposal

Disposing of data can become just as important as acquiring data daily. Data erasure software can help you repeatedly overwrite existing data that needs to be disposed of when removing data. This makes old data entirely unrecoverable.

Data Masking

You guessed it: data masking helps obscure information in the middle and replaces it with proxy symbols and characters. Converting the data backward requires an authorized receiver.

Components of Data Security

Confidentiality, integrity, and availability happen to be at the core of all data security programs. Confidentiality ensures that access to the data is authorized. Integrity relates to the condition of the data when stored reliably and accurately. Availability implies safe and ready access as per need.

Regulations

No matter where your business is based, even if you exclusively cater to customers from other jurisdictions, legal frameworks require a certain quantum of effort from business owners to keep their customer data safe. Your data security program should comply with the Gen. Data Protection Regulation, Sarbanes-Oxley Act, HIPAA, CCPA, International Standards Organization, etc.

Technologies Enabling Data Security

Using these technologies, one can make data security easier and more effective. Let us look at some of the most promising ones.

Auditing

Data auditing software programs provide a lot of information on what has been happening to your data. For example, who has been accessing it, what commands are being written, file paths utilized, etc. Much of this goes into a breach investigation.

Software Alert Systems

If only it were straightforward to know that your database has been breached. Resource-rich and capable companies may not realize that their data has been stolen until it is in the news or via a specific complaint or note. Software alert systems are often real-time and continuously monitor the input and output from a database. They have a proven track record in helping discover breaches.

Risk Assessment Software

Such software will help you with the most sensitive aspects of both your database and the data. For example, parts of your data may be accessed more frequently than others. Risk assessment software will also suggest the most successful steps in addressing security risks. It will direct your attention toward information accessed by a wider group of users or even globally accessible. Expect to uncover at least a few critical vulnerabilities you may have overlooked otherwise.

Minimization

Taking after the Big State, companies traditionally believed that having as much information as possible is good. Realizing the cost and effort involved in handling data has given new wisdom. Take only what you need. More data simply translates into more targets for hackers.

Purging Old Data

Old and stale data should be proactively removed from your servers for the same reason that you don’t want to collect more than what is relevant. Stale data, which has no takers, often goes into a low maintenance mode. Parts of such databases may not be optimized, may lag, or worse, may inherit permissions that allow hackers to gain a foothold. Periodically going after such data is an excellent management tactic.

Best Practices and Privacy and Security Programs

These are common sense methodologies that improve your customer data’s privacy and security features.

The foremost best practice would be segregating and quarantining sensitive files because you want to protect such information and give it special treatment. On the other hand, you could delete information that is not useful or no longer relevant. An entitlement review can be carried out from time to time to ensure behavior-based permissions are instated. Despite everything your organization does, you should also actively prepare for cyber threats. You can never be too careful.

Data in the 21st century has gone on to take a life of its own. Companies’ outlook and handling of this data continue to evolve, but there cannot be two opinions on the security and privacy front, particularly regarding customers.

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