Data is one of the most valuable assets a company possesses and if it falls into the wrong hands, nothing short of disaster ensues. Especially when customer trust is at stake, you can't afford to take any risks. If you don't have an IT consulting team working for you, your to-do list for protecting sensitive data is long, arduous and very likely and most unfortunately, full of holes.
1. Implement Protection Policies For All Sensitive Data
From the nanosecond your business collects sensitive data, such as credit card and social security numbers, it needs to be under serious lock-and-key. Be it a job applicant who's entrusting you with their life history, along with their personal information, or a customer purchasing goods, every bit and byte demands strict and impenetrable practices.
2. Understand The Data Collection Process Completely
When and where does your company start gathering the data that requires protection? Where is that information stored and who has access to it? Is it utterly protected from would-be data thieves or even casual hackers? When an employee leaves your company, are they still able, in any way, to log into your systems? If you can't track all the data and every user, you could be compromised in some way.
3. Keep Equipment And Software On The Cutting Edge
Outdated machines and/or programs could be a thorn in your side because they're usually not as secure, nor are they updated by the manufacturer. Windows 7, for example, is still widely used for personal and professional purposes worldwide; however, Microsoft is nixing support for it early in 2020. If you're not prepared for such events, your company and customer files are at risk.
4. Shred, Shred, Shred!
Hard-copy files no longer needed must be physically destroyed, not just disposed of. Dumpster-diving identity thieves could easily steal paperwork from your property, creating security hazards and putting valuable intellectual property (IP) at risk.
5. Protect Customer Data From Third-Parties, Too
You may have contracts with a shipping company, advertisers and other partners, but are they working hard to protect your customer's data, too? Be clear from the beginning, as the sharing of private information is a billion-dollar business and your customers will hold you responsible for selling them out, even if you didn't know about it.
6. Work With An It Consultant
Whether you're looking to avoid a data breach or clean up after one, your best source of protection is an IT Consultant. They're professional data-keepers and know exactly what you need to do to protect your customers' and company's privacy. They'll also help you manage equipment and update it, not just for the integrity of information, but to ensure functionality and smooth operations. It Consultants understand vulnerability and core-competency; thus, they'll work to make your company more competitive, along with protecting sensitive data and systems.
If you're not watching your data, rest assured, nefarious types are. Maintain strict internal company policies, understand where and how threats may be lurking and partner with an IT pro to seal any remaining holes in your company's data infrastructure. Everything, including the future of your business, depends on it.