How to protect your customer's confidential data

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15 Aug 2023

How to protect your customer's confidential data

Our personal data is constantly being collected, processed, and stored by various organisations online. Online forms are always asking us to, 'Add your email here to receive our newsletter' or 'Let us know your date of birth for a free birthday treat!' (OK, that one's always nice). But some companies want to know our address and even credit card details just for basic online transactions. But have you ever stopped to wonder why they want to know your pet's favourite colour before simply handing it over?

In all seriousness, the importance of data protection is very high for businesses. Having high levels of data protection not only builds trust and confidence, but also protects the valuable data your business collects from third parties that may use it for fraud, scams, and identity theft. With such a high volume of data being exchanged online, data privacy management is key to protecting your business.

Let’s look at how your business can prioritise confidentiality of customer data and protect your valuable assets online.

What is meant by data protection?

Data protection refers to the measures put in place to safeguard your data from unauthorised access, loss, or corruption. The aim of data protection is to prevent data breaches, minimise risk, and ensure that confidential data is secure. Examples of security measures to manage data protection include password management, security software, access controls, staff training and encryption. Encryption can help protect your data both in transit (e.g. when you're sending an email) and at rest (e.g. when your data is stored on your device).

Why is data protection and confidentiality important?

Data protection and confidentiality is important because of the potential impact. The average cost of data breaches per hour worldwide has increased dramatically in recent years to around $787,671. These costs can accumulate from lost money through fraudulent purchases, fines for not adhering to data protection laws, or profit losses from reputational impact. This highlights the importance of doing everything you can to stop that from happening to your business.

There is a lot to the topic of data protection and confidentiality, but here are a few key things to keep in mind:

Trust – An organisation that is proactive with data protection and confidentiality is more likely to be trusted by its employees, customers, and shareholders, allowing you to build a trustworthy reputation.

Keep confidential information safe – Confidential information is just that – confidential! The sensitive information you store within your businesses needs to remain private, and the consequences of data breaches can be very damaging.

GDPR - Puts simply, it’s the law. As a business, you must comply with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) which goes by 7 principles:

  • Lawfulness, Fairness, and Transparency

  • Purpose Limitation

  • Data Minimisation

  • Accuracy

  • Storage Limitations

  • Integrity and Confidentiality

  • Accountability

Risk mitigation - With data protection, prevention is better than cure. Your business needs to store and collect data correctly to keep it safe online and reduce the risk of corruption, breaches, and theft.

Risk Assessment Checklist

With good data privacy management, you can keep your business safe online. A data protection risk assessment is used to identify and minimise the data protection risks of a project and decide how best to keep high-risk data safe.

We’ve put together a data protection risk assessment checklist to help your business stay on track with data protection. Look at the below and apply or adapt it to suit your needs.

  • We understand and detail the nature, scope, context, and purposes of the data being collected.

  • We document the process of data collection and ensure risks are reduced. (Password management, restricted access, encryption etc.).

  • We inform individuals of how their data is stored in line with GDPR and the Data Protection Act 2018.

  • We will consider third party insight to further enhance our levels of data confidentiality.

  • All staff members are trained to the appropriate level for their role in collecting and storing data safely.

  • We only process data that is necessary in line with our requirements.

  • We acknowledge the level of risk for each data collecting exercise and take the required steps to eliminate or reduce high risks, including: (Add your companies data protection policy or procedures here)

  • Data protection risk assessments are reviewed regularly.

It’s vital that your business takes data protection seriously and that you have processes and procedures in place to help minimise the risk of data breaches to protect your personal data from unauthorised access.

If you need any further help with data protection, remember you can get 1-2-1 support by speaking to one of our V-Hub Advisers.

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