If your business deals with any type of customer information, ensuring you keep those details confidential is crucial to gaining and keeping client trust. Data privacy best practices ensure you do everything in your power to prevent details from falling into bad players’ hands.
Most hackers get into a server via a backdoor or weak passwords. Putting a few rules in place and thoroughly training workers makes cybercriminals’ jobs harder. They may move on to an easier target and leave your customers alone.
1. Know the Statistics
In 2023, around 73% of organizations experienced a ransomware attack around the globe. More companies are at risk each year as the threat expands. You might think smaller businesses aren’t as prone to hackers, but they often see smaller companies as an easier target.
A few basic steps you can take to protect your data include:
- Installing antivirus and malware prevention
- Setting up firewalls
- Investing in cloud-based hosting with the best security software available.
- Backing up your data and sites in case of an attack, so you can get back online easily.
2. Insist on Strong Passwords
One of the strongest data privacy best practices you can put in place is a strong password policy. Some of the precautions you should implement with system login passwords include:
- Upper and lowercase letters
- Numbers and symbols
- Longer passwords or phrases
- Regularly changing passwords
In addition to creating strong passwords, make sure employees understand why they should never share their information with another individual. Some attacks come from inside an organization. It’s common for a disgruntled or former coworker to use someone else’s data to try to access the system for nefarious purposes.
3. Wipe Old Data
Employees live in a connected society. They may access the company servers from their homes, on a cell phone or from another machine outside the building. Mixing personal and business equipment is never a good idea, but it happens more often than you’d expect.
Here are some ways to ensure information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands when replacing old equipment:
- Back up any information to the cloud
- Unpair the device with others, such as a smartwatch
- Log out of systems on the old device
- Reset to factory settings
To ensure everything wipes out completely, have workers consult with the IT department to ensure they’ve followed every step.
4. Create Login Protocols
Other data privacy best practices include teaching employees to protect login data and follow certain protocols. Proper login protocols might include the following:
- Installing privacy filters so others can’t see what appears on a screen.
- Training workers to protect passwords when in public places by using facial recognition.
- Ensuring everyone installs two-factor authentication.
It’s easy to fall into lax habits when you use a system frequently. People may get complacent. Offer reminders and training regularly to prevent people sliding on the rules.
5. Update Before You Login
Even though your web hosting company and the software you install has an impact on data security, keeping everything updated also makes a difference. Train employees and management to:
- Run a scan to see if any updates are available as they start the day.
- Keep antivirus software on machines up-to-date or automate updates.
- Pay attention to current viruses and run any needed scans to prevent infection.
Strive to develop a process of starting the work day. Employees should run through a set of prompts that ensures everything is updated and protected.
6. Test the System
Hire hackers to protect your system and test employees. Make sure they know you’re not calling any individual out or getting anyone in trouble. Rather, the goal is to find weaknesses and fix them before the criminal hackers find them. Try these techniques:
- Run phishing scams to see if employees fall for it — use data to revamp policies.
- Let hackers attempt to get in via backdoor methods.
- Have them try to guess passwords by knowing a few basic facts about the worker or checking out their social media for hints about what password they might choose.
Armed with information, you can better train your employees to prevent a hacking incident. Cybercriminals constantly come up with new ways to fool people. Stay on top of recent data breaches. When you know the methods used, you can take steps to prevent the attacks.
7. Use Data Encryption
Recent compliance laws such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) act from the European Union means anyone doing business with an EU must follow specific protocols and have procedures in place to protect data.
Whether you fall under rules of the GDPR or another entity, here are some ways to utilize data encryption to ensure personal details remain confidential:
- Send emails through a strong encryption algorithm, such as Advanced Encryption Standard (AES).
- Use longer encryption keys for better security.
- Authorize only those who need to see the information and don’t give anyone else access.
- Train staff on best practices, such as what types of data needs encryption.
It takes an additional step to use AES or another algorithm to encrypt. However, the extra time required ramps up security.
Write Out Data Privacy Best Practices
Employees forget data privacy best practices between training sessions. They may take shortcuts to save time and be more productive. It’s crucial to write out rules and recommendations. Remind them weekly of a tip or policy. Reup training occasionally. When you’re proactive about security, it’s less likely you’ll lose crucial information to bad players.
Eleanor is editor of Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.