No matter what industry your business operates in, it likely has a lot of sensitive data in its records. Employee data, such as Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, and other financial information, is certainly sensitive in nature. And if you pay your employees for the work they do, that data is stored somewhere in the system used to process payroll. Additionally, some companies have customer data stored in databases, further increasing the risk of a security breach.
Hackers are getting more advanced and skilled in their efforts to steal sensitive data. Unfortunately, we’ve seen countless big-name businesses fall prey to scams and security breaches in the recent past. This guide provides some tips for maintaining data security and protecting your workforce.
Tip #1: Establish Formal Procedures and Policies
From the moment your company gets access to data, all who interact with it must have a firm understanding of how to protect it. To achieve this goal, your business needs formal procedures and policies around data security. A formal policy should define all the sensitive data the business might come into contact with and how it will take steps to protect it. It should also outline the rules for employees, such as avoiding unauthorized viewing, copying, sharing, or using sensitive data.
Tip #2: Follow All Security Laws
Various data security laws are in effect on all levels, and your business must adhere to them to avoid costly penalties and fines. These laws may dictate how to store and maintain potentially sensitive data, time requirements for retaining data, and restricting access to only those authorized to view the information.
Tip #3: Invest in Proper Software
Since most data security occurs digitally these days, your business needs a secure way to maintain private information. If you do have paper or physical records, implement physical security measures, such as locks that only permit authorized personnel to enter. Digital files should be secured with encryption and password protection, with passwords being changed regularly. Evaluate the software used regularly to make sure that new threats don’t compromise data security.
Tip #4: Train Employees to Spot Threats
Unfortunately, data security breaches often occur because of human errors. Train your workforce to spot potential threats and shut them down before they can become actual concerns for your business. Cover the tactics commonly used by hackers, such as phishing, social engineering, and attempting to commit CEO fraud. Employees who have authorized access to sensitive data should undergo additional training on how to prevent others from accessing this information, respond to potential breaches, and proper disposal of records.
Tip #5: Only Collect Necessary Data
If you don’t need a piece of data from a new hire or customer, don’t ask for it. Review all forms and documents to ensure that the information requested is necessary. By eliminating certain line items from forms, such as Social Security numbers or bank account numbers, you can protect your business from having to store this sensitive information and reduce the risk of it being targeted.
Protecting sensitive data is a high priority for all companies, regardless of size or industry. Take the necessary steps in your organization to ensure that private information remains private. These steps can bolster trust in the business and fodder positive relationships between employees, customers, and others with whom your company interacts.