Advice For Small Businesses Storing User Data
You may believe that data breaches only impact large corporations. After all, this is all we hear about in the news. The reality is that data breaches affect companies of all sizes, even small businesses. Hackers are looking to target small businesses alongside large corporations to obtain dishonest gain. When data breaches occur, you run the risk of losing customer trust and facing legal trouble. Say nothing of the fact that your reputation can be negatively impacted because you will be known for not keeping customer data safe, and new prospects will be reluctant to become your customers. To ensure that your small business does not become the target of hackers, you must take measures to secure your customer data.
Know Where All Your Data is Stored
The first step to securing customer data is to know where all of your data is stored. When you know the location of your data, you can better keep track of it. Data breaches occur when companies do not keep track of their customer data. You can have a roster that is kept in a safe place that lists the types of data you work with and where it is stored so you can keep track of it easily. When you keep tabs on all of your data, there is less of a chance it will fall into the wrong hands.
Limit Access to Customer Data
Another reason data breaches occur is because too many people have access to customer data. When too many people have access to the data, then there is a chance that data can be lost or misused. The key is to limit the number of people who can access the data and keep a log of who has such access. Also, access is to only be granted on a business need-to-know basis.
Do Not Use Outdated Payment Options
If you want to keep payment data secure, you need to avoid using outdated payment options. Credit and debit cards that have magnetic strips are outdated because the customers' banking information is on the back of these cards, leaving room for vulnerability. If you are taking payments face-to-face, it is advised that you use cards that contain a chip as customer information is encrypted. Contactless payments, such as Apple Pay, are also good payment options because customer data is hidden from those who want to exploit it.
Choose Strong Passwords
If you are storing customer data in the cloud or in a database, you need to choose strong passwords. Strong passwords must consist of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. When you choose strong passwords, hackers and other unscrupulous characters will have a more difficult time accessing sensitive information and exploiting it for dishonest gain.
Make Sure All Software is Up-to-Date
Always keep your software up-to-date. This includes software for payment processors, computer systems, databases, mobile apps and your website. Hackers are always looking for vulnerabilities, and developers are always identifying these and creating patches to ensure optimal security.
Monitor Your Network
To make sure your company is not the target of attacks, you need to monitor your network. One way to do this is to obtain security information and event management (SIEM) software as this software is designed to spot malicious activity on your network and alert you to it. Getting access to alerts in real-time can ensure that you eliminate threats quickly before they can cause significant problems for your business. There are a variety of options to choose from, and it is up to you to do research and find one that fits your needs.
Have Data Retention Policies in Place
Finally, you must have data retention policies in place. These policies must determine how long data should be stored. Additionally, data destruction processes must be clearly outlined. For example, if you are storing electronic documents, you need to have a procedure in place for disposing of the data. The same holds true for any paper documents you are storing as well. When there are clear retention policies in place, data will not be stored past the time that it should, thus minimizing any chances of data falling into the hands of malicious individuals.
If you follow this advice for storing user data, you will not have to worry about customer data breaches. Your reputation will remain intact, and you can look forward to your customers trusting you.