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5 Ways to Keep Your Customers’ Data Safe

It’s Data Privacy Day on the 28th January, so we’ve put together some information for you to consider to ensure you’re keeping your customers’ data safe.

In today’s digital age, where businesses are collecting more and more data, taking control of customer records has become a vital business process. The protection of PII (personally identifiable information) not only ensures compliance with mandatory privacy Regulations, such as the EU GDPR or UK Data Protection Laws, but also ensures customers and stakeholders trust your organisation.

As data breaches and privacy concerns continue to make headlines, businesses must adopt proactive strategies to safeguard customer data. Here are five essential ways to take control of your customer’s data.

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1. Prioritise Cyber Security

Cyber security forms the foundation of a strong data management strategy. Implementing comprehensive security measures is crucial to safeguard customer data from unauthorised access, breaches, and cyber threats.

There are multiple ways this can be achieved, but aligning to a cyber security framework is a great way of ensuring all boxes are ticked. Deciding which is right for your organisation depends on the size of the operation, your customers and clients’ requirements and what data is held. The frameworks we suggest considering are:

  • ISO/IEC 27001 – this international Standard focuses on establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continually improving an Information Security Management System (ISMS).
  • ISO/IEC 27701 – the international standard for a Privacy Information Management System, it extends the requirements of the ISO27001 standard to address privacy and comply with data protection regulations.
  • Cyber Essentials – this is a UK government scheme to implement five controls for primary cyber security.
  • NIST Cybersecurity Framework – developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the United States. It provides a risk-based approach to managing cybersecurity, emphasising six core functions: Govern, Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover.
  • COBIT (Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies) – developed by ISACA (Information Systems Audit and Control Association), this is a framework for the governance and management of enterprise IT, including information security.
  • SOC 2 (Service Organisation Control 2): developed by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). It focuses on the security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and privacy of data processed by service providers.

If you’re not looking to implement a framework just yet, there are some actions that will help increase cyber defences.

  • Data encryption, especially for sensitive data, ensures that even if unauthorised access occurs, the content is unreadable, and the data remains protected.
  • Employ strict access controls to restrict data access based on job roles, allowing only authorised personnel to handle sensitive customer information.
  • Regularly update and patch systems to address potential vulnerabilities and stay ahead of evolving cybersecurity threats.
  • Prioritise employee awareness – make cyber security a key part of everyone’s job role to guarantee a complete cyber security approach throughout the organisation.

2. Obtain Explicit Consent

Building trust with customers begins with transparent communication, and obtaining explicit consent for data collection and usage is key. Clearly state the purposes for which customer data will be used and ensure that customers are aware of their rights regarding data privacy.

Ensure privacy policies are easily accessible to customers, and make sure it someone’s job who is qualified to regularly review and update privacy policies to reflect any changes in data handling practices.

Provide customers with the ability to manage their preferences and easily opt-out of certain data uses so they can take an active role in controlling their information.

3. Embrace Data Minimisation

Adopt the principle of data minimisation by collecting only the necessary customer information required for specific purposes. Avoid unnecessary data collection, and regularly review stored data to identify and remove any information that is no longer required. Limiting the amount of customer data not only reduces the risk of exposure but also aligns with privacy best practices.

Create a policy which details how and what customer data is collected, and ensure it is understood and followed throughout the organisation.

Data minimisation not only enhances data protection practices, but also contributes to a more streamlined and efficient data management system.

4. Know which Regulations apply to your customers

Determining which data privacy regulations apply to your organisation involves a careful assessment of several factors, such as the types of personal data your organisation collects, processes, and stores; the geographical locations of your operations and the residence of the individuals whose data you handle.

Different regions and countries often have distinct data protection laws. For instance, even if your organisation is outside of the EU, if your organisation handles data of European Union citizens, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) still applies.

Stay informed about evolving legislation, as data protection laws are subject to updates and changes.

5. Regular Data Audits and Compliance Checks

Conducting regular audits of customer data is essential to ensure compliance with privacy regulations and internal policies. Perform risk assessments to identify potential vulnerabilities and gaps in data protection. Keep up with changes in data protection laws and regulations, and update data management practices accordingly to remain compliant.

Maintain documentation of data processing activities to demonstrate accountability and transparency to regulatory authorities and customers alike. By proactively monitoring and managing data compliance, businesses can identify and address potential issues before they escalate, reducing the risk of legal repercussions and ensuring the responsible handling of customer data.

Conclusion

In conclusion, keeping your customers’ data safe is a multifaceted approach. By prioritising data security, businesses not only protect their customers, but also mitigate the risk of reputational damage and legal consequences associated with data breaches.

 


How can CertiKit help?

If you’re looking to take your data privacy actions more seriously, we’ve got a number of compliance toolkits which can help, depending on what you decide is the right option for your organisation.

Each of our toolkits comes with a comprehensive set of template documents and guides to support you through the process, as well as unlimited email support and a continuous subscription to our update service, so you’re always up to date.

Our toolkit range includes:

Click the links to learn more about the toolkits or contact our team if you have any questions.

We’ve helped more than 4000 businesses with their compliance

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