With the rise in the use of the internet amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s a substantial increase in the number of identity threats and security breaches. Whether it’s a small business or an enterprise, everyone is worried and taking adequate steps to protect their employee & consumers’ personally identifiable information (PII).
As per stats, over 155.8 million individuals were affected by data exposures leading to the revelation of sensitive data due to lack of adequate information security. Since PII compliance is mandatory and necessary to protect the identities of individuals & a non-compliant business could be entitled to hefty fines; protecting PII is the need of the hour.
Let’s learn how businesses can take actions to protect PII and avoid costly breaches when attackers are actively hunting for a loophole in the entire security of a network.
What is PII?
Personally identifiable information can be any kind of information that an enterprise collects from a user that helps in identifying any specific individual. It includes name, physical address, social security number, or phone number. Unauthorized professionals may utilize this information for diverse reasons.
Here are some steps that every organization must take to secure PII:
1. Start with identifying the PII that your company stores
Before you start fixing issues with overall enterprise security, it’s important to identify the type of PII that you store. Some software vendors may store clients’ contact details or even credit card details for plan renewal purposes. On the other hand, government agencies may store social security numbers, passport details, addresses, or even license numbers. Once you know which PII your company is storing, you can rely on several measures to secure the same.
2. Perform risk assessment
Risk assessment is a great way that helps businesses in identifying the vulnerabilities and weak points in the current line of defense against cybercriminals. As an organization, you must ensure that you’re identifying:
- What PII is regulated
- What are the actions that your organization is taking to ensure compliance
- What are the risks associated with unregulated PII
- Sources of threats
- The weakest link in the overall defense system
- Risk management strategies to safeguard sensitive information
3. Update your usage privacy policies
With the data privacy laws getting stringent day by day, organizations must review and update their policies. It’s crucial to review the foundation for securely storing and retrieving PII in an organization and make the necessary changes that can ensure adequate data safety. Moreover, it would be great to ensure that employees are provided security awareness training around storage, collection, and deletion of PII to improve the overall structure.
4. Get a CIAM solution for maintaining privacy compliance
A consumer identity and access management (CIAM) solution can help any business that collects and stores PII in securely managing data. A CIAM solution enables a business to be GDPR and CCPA ready that further ensures that data is collected, stored, and retrieved without any risk of a breach.
Moreover, getting a CIAM solution in place can help businesses stay ahead of the curve as it offers a competitive edge over others and eventually builds brand value among consumers.
These are some of the benefits of a CIAM solution for a business:
- Prevents data breaches
- Offers compliance
- Builds customer trust & loyalty
- Improves brand value
- Enhances business growth
5. Securely delete old PII
Most businesses aren’t aware of the fact that the PII they are holding without any reason can be the biggest risk for their organization. It’s important to figure out the PII that isn’t necessary and can be deleted. Some of these PII include consumers that have moved, ended the relationship, or died. Apart from this, the record of employees of the company that have left the organization can also be considered for deletion. Deleting these old PII not only secures your network but eventually helps you reduce storage costs if you’re relying on third-party storage services.
Protecting PII in the current epoch should be the highest priority for an organization striving to build a brand reputation in the market.
The aforementioned aspects could help in improving PII storage and also in ensuring security for the sensitive information of consumers and employees.
With millions of identities currently at risk, it’s crucial for organizations collecting and storing PII to put their best foot forward in enhancing the overall security of their network.