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After the Snowden leaks about the violations of people’s privacy, data security and privacy are starting to become a competitive factor for companies.
Source: Forrester Research: Predictions 2015: Data Security And Privacy Are Competitive Differentiators
Consumers are increasingly aware of their right to privacy, and of their right to expect service providers to respect their privacy. Initiatives such as the international “Data Privacy Day” are popping up to further increase understanding, and to create visibility for the issue. In the UK, the “Fair Data” accreditation program will recognize companies who treat their customers’ personal data in a proper and fair way. In the US, 60% of Internet users are more concerned about how companies treat their personal data than they were a year ago. This trend is the same regardless of age.
This trend, together with the increasing number of data breaches, puts businesses under pressure. A company that does not follow the new rules and pay attention to protecting their customers’ personal information could be facing a significant loss of customers when consumers and business customers alike vote with their wallets. As the Forrester report states: “If your customers don’t trust you to rigorously protect and genuinely respect their sensitive data, they’ll take their business elsewhere.” Therefore, data-centric security is essential for businesses.
Cyberattacks are destructive to businesses, as attackers want to monetize any stolen data. Details like birth dates, addresses, and even bank account numbers are out there in digital databases and, if they’re not properly protected, can be vulnerable to online thieves. Customer data protection is a corporate social responsibility. If you don’t take care of that responsibility, your reputation could be damaged if your customer data is leaked. Or, you might be unable to carry on with your own business responsibilities if your customer database is lost.
The failure to adhere to data protection rules could also lead to legal action. For this reason, companies also need to consider how they dispose of their data.
The political instability in the world in no way makes it easier to secure the online privacy of customers. With at least 80% of what people do online every day being tracked, the reliability and safety of cloud services is relevant for all. But it is not just cloud service providers facing this issue. At the end of the day, it is your company that will be accountable for the online privacy of your own customers – regardless of which service provider you use.
There are some simple steps that can help you protect your customers’ data privacy and security, and, in the end, your business.
- Store data securely. Control user access levels so only people who need access to that data can view and edit it.
- Don’t release data to the wrong people. For instance, run a security check before talking to customers about their accounts.
- Be very wary when copying or transferring data. Encrypt data before sending it outside your business.
- Don’t store important data where it can be easily stolen or lost. For example, don’t store a list of customer addresses on your laptop.