Much of the time, we don’t have control over the security of our personal data. We hope and pray that our bank, employer, insurance company, hospital, retailer, university and others with whom we do business are being responsible protectors of our confidential records and have data security measures in place.
All companies, large and small, should handle their customers’ data with care and respect. Information relayed by computer systems is a target, as cybercriminals continuously search for the weak links in computer systems. Here are some rules for protecting your customers’ information.
1. Never send customers’ files by email.
It seems elementary, but a surprising number of companies that should know better send customer information by email. When our clients do this, we immediately delete the files they have sent and alert them to the dangers of doing so. Sending confidential data by email is like putting it out for all the world to grab.
2. Set data security policies and enforce them.
Consider all the avenues that could be used to abscond with clients’ data and develop policies and procedures that make these avenues dead ends for cybercriminals. Provide employee training sessions that emphasize the reasons for and importance of security measures. Make it clear that management takes data security seriously and that staff must do the same.
3. Physically secure your data.
Your company’s servers should be kept in a locked area, accessible only to authorized employees. Codes and passwords should be changed frequently, particularly when key employees leave the company. Servers should also have a back-up energy supply in case of power outages, and all records should be backed up and saved to an off-site location daily.
4. Keep data secure when you share it.
There will be times when you must share your data with others. For example, our Transactional clients must send us their data for bills, insurance forms and other documents that we process and mail to their customers. Sending data to a third party can be a weak spot, security wise, so you should work only with third parties that use the latest data security software systems. The software we use encrypts a client’s data and keeps it encrypted throughout the process. It also allows the client to set a date for the data to be virtually shredded and to be alerted to any attempts to hack the information.
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