Data privacy and security, along with Information Governance systems and infrastructure security solutions, are among the most important aspects of running a successful business. These tasks, if not approached correctly and with sufficient resources, are prone to be unnecessarily pricey and quite challenging.
The regulatory landscape is dynamic so keeping the consumer data safe and properly used should be among your top priorities. Whether your business collaborates with thousands of users or a handful of clients, making sure that all types of data that go through your systems are protected and kept private is a must. Especially if you work with consumers on a multinational level.
That said, we recommend you go over the following six best practice ways that can assist you in safeguarding sensitive information and achieving high levels of data privacy within your organization.
1. Take Care of Regulatory Compliance
GDPR and CCPA are among the basic regulatory laws you must comply with. Laws like this ensure that companies treat and store consumer data the right way and that this type of information is protected and not misused.
So, one of the first steps to take is to make sure your organization adheres to all the necessary laws in terms of who has access to your data and for what purposes this data is used. This is where you should also take geolocation into consideration, as these data privacy laws tend to vary depending on the country or state.
The businesses that stay compliant and up-to-date with these rules and regulations are able to reduce data privacy risks to a minimum. This helps with the mitigation of any potentially costly and reputation-damaging legal issues and penalties.
2. Define What “Personal Information” Is
Any piece of information that can be used - either on its own or in combination with some other data - to identify a person, is considered to be Personal Information. These typically include the following:
Name, last name, address, date of birth
Driver’s license number
Data on one’s criminal and financial history
Ethnicity and race
DNA, fingerprints, voiceprints, etc
It is highly recommended that your business determines all the pieces of personal information that it gathers, processes and stores - and then performs data classification. Once you identify the data classes and track all personal information that moves around your company, it is critical to share this data only with the parties that should have legal access to it and that you can trust.
3. Protect Your Data From Phishing Attempts
Phishing email messages are capable of tricking users and employees into performing and even completing various online actions - whether it is downloading malicious files, installing malware on the devices they use, or following harmful links. These phishing attempts are typically aiming to steal and misuse personal information.
Here are some best practice tips for dealing with these threats:
Email messages from senders whose identity you cannot verify shouldn’t be opened. If you are unsure of where or whom an email is coming from, be sure to proceed with extra caution and even try to identify the sender through alternative channels.
If you receive an unsolicited email that features embedded links, be very careful with clicking on them since they may lead you to unsecured web locations.
Scammy emails containing claims that you have been chosen for a discount or fishy prizes should be ignored.
4. Create a Solid Data Governance Plan
In order to have all-encompassing data protection and security systems in place, companies need to first make sure their and their user’s data is being governed the right way. Proper data governance guidelines must be clear and well understood across all teams, departments and individuals within a company.
To achieve this, be sure that they have a firm grasp of the following:
How data is gathered
How it’s classified
How data is managed
Where and for how long data is stored
A proper Data Governance plan requires a policy framework, typically designed by stakeholders, that determines the underpinning rules of how data is treated; it involves the use of appropriate tools and technology for these operations, like cloud archiving, data protection tools, and other useful solutions. Also, be sure to do a good job with assigning responsibility to data stakeholders.
5. Avoid Using Public Wi-Fi
Though this may seem like an obvious piece of advice, many employees succumb to the temptation of using open Wi-Fi networks every once in a while, for online shopping for example. This has become more prominent over the last couple of years due to the altered workplace landscape since much more staff members now work remotely.
It is important not to reveal or share anyone’s personal information - like credit card number, address, etc - via public wi-fi networks. The use of Virtual Private Networks (or VPNs) is also recommended as these security layers can protect data transfers and limit the tracking of external user activity.
6. Increase Data Privacy and Security-focused Awareness Across Entire Company
All businesses, especially the ones whose data processing/storing and communication channels are not operating according to security standards, are at risk of their data being deleted or misused. Especially if you handle huge amounts of data and have a substantial number of clients and/or consumers.
Security and data privacy plans are like chains, if there’s one weak link, the entire chain may break and collapse regardless of how strong the others are. This means that building a strong data privacy mindset across your entire organization and across all departments is an essential component of keeping the data safe at all times.
Be sure to create such a data privacy plan so your workflow and operations are not hindered or slowed down by it, while all your staff members are on the same page in terms of security best practices and tools used in the process.
Data Privacy as the Fulcrum of Overall Business Success
Developing a successful business and building trust around it is a long and complex task. It involves dozens of various strategies that all need to be correlated and streamlined. Data privacy is among the critical components of these processes and by design requires consistency and a detailed approach.
Whether the data you handle belongs to your company or to your clients and/or consumers, following data privacy best practices can help you achieve adequate security levels. That way, your business will have a solid underlying structure based on trust and transparency. Only then will your organization be able to grow and achieve the set business goals.