Did you know that 60% of small companies close their doors within 6 months of being hacked? This is proof that getting hacked is not good for any company. There are a few steps you can take as a business to protect customer data from any attacks and intrusions.

Keep reading to learn some of the best ways to protect client data.

1. Limit Access

One way to protect data is to limit access to sensitive information. Not everyone in your business needs to access all of the data and info you hold. Limiting the number of employees that have access to private information will limit the chances of leaving your company vulnerable to a data breach.

You will have fewer people making a mistake and leaving your security system compromised and fewer chances of a malicious employee taking advantage.

2. Shred Client’s Information

A great way to get rid of any physical papers that you have with customer’s personal information is to invest in a shredder. Industrial shredding machines will not only get rid of personal data it will also help you reduce the amount of garbage that goes to the landfills.

There are different options when it comes to choosing the machine. You can opt for a shredder that will grind everything you put through it leaving you with dust at the end, or there are micro-cuts, strip-cuts, cross-cuts, etc. If you are mainly getting rid of sensitive paperwork then a shredder that grinds or does particle cuts will be perfect.

3. Dedicated Servers

If you are currently on a shared server because it is saving you money, you might want to consider moving to a dedicated server instead. Although a dedicated server will cost you more money, you can have better peace of mind because it will provide you with an additional layer of protection for you and your clients.

4. Strong Passwords

Take the time to create strong and long passwords. Passwords that are between 13 to 15 characters are more difficult to hack than short passwords. Do not use specific words, instead use random numbers, symbols, letters, and capitalization.

You can also invest in password tools such as LastPass or 1Password. These will make it easier when it comes to encrypting passwords and forcing employees to not use a single complex password across different login accounts. Multifactor authentication is something else that you want in order to make it more difficult for anyone to access data.

5. Precautions When Dumping

Before you throw something out take the time to destroy it. If you are throwing out old equipment make sure that the drives are wiped clean with software that is specifically used for this. Not only do you want to wipe the drive clean, but you also want to physically destroy it as well.

Believe it or not, many data breaches happen right out of the dumpster.

6. Select the Data You Need

Take some time to see the data that you are collecting from your clients and get rid of the data your company does not really need. For example, if you are collecting birthdates but are never using them for anything, then you might want to reconsider asking for them moving forward and deleting the files that currently include the date of birth.

Take the time to purge any data that does not directly relate to your business. If you have been storing customer’s credit card information you might want to stop doing this moving forward unless they are on an auto-pay.

Also, if you are storing credit card information you want to make sure that you are staying compliant with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). This will allow customers to feel safe because they know that their personal data and information are being handled correctly and safeguarded.

7. Physically Lock Up All Data

It is best to keep all of your physical papers with customer data locked up. You can go a step further by adding a numeric keypad or biometric verification for anyone to access files and records you have locked up.

You can also lock up any USB drives, flash drives, and portable hard drives in the same area. This will require anyone accessing them to check the media out and then check it back in.

Company cell phones are another easy target that can expose your network. Install encryption software on smartphones to help keep your network safe and your customer data from being accessed.

8. Downloads

When employees are allowed to download anything at their workstation this can be a security threat to your entire organization. You never know if what is being downloaded is an extension, a helpful app, a spam email, or a trojan torrent from a pirate website.

No matter how the harm comes from downloads it will probably spread throughout your entire network putting everyone’s information at risk. Before you know it, it can also spread to the servers containing all of your important data. Once you have a hacker with access to your network they can give a virus to your computers, networks, and programs, causing chaos for your company.

Do not allow employees to download whatever they please unless it is work-related.

Ready to Protect Customer Data?

Now that you have our top tips to protect customer data, you can start taking action right away and make sure that you have your customer’s back. Data protection is a huge deal especially when your clients are trusting you with their personal information.

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