Data Privacy Tips for the Small Business Owner
Thanks to the power of the recently enacted General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), businesses operating within the European Union must take proactive measures to protect the data with which they are entrusted, but that does not mean other businesses are off the hook. No matter where you do business, you need to take data privacy and customer protection very seriously, and the time to get stared is now.
Privacy protection is a serious matter, and businesses everywhere need to take it seriously. Whether you are a small business owner, a solo entrepreneur or a growing concern with dozens of employees, you need to take proactive measures to protect the vast amounts of information flowing into and out of your network.
Unfortunately, protecting data is not as easy as it once was, and data protection becomes more challenging with every passing year. Every week brings news of a new data breach, and with so many threats, businesses need to build privacy protection into their day to day operations. Here are some practical tips to help you, the small business owner, protect data privacy and stay on the right side of existing and emerging laws and international regulations.
Know Your Data
Before you can protect your data, you need to know what you have and how you are storing it. Start with a quantitative analysis of all the information you are currently collecting, from credit card numbers stored in your shopping cart software to names and addresses of your customers.
Once you know what you are protecting, you can examine the methods you are using to keep that data safe. Only after you know what you are collecting can you protect your data better.
Understand the Risks
The risks to small businesses and their data have never been greater. As big businesses beef up their IT infrastructures and enhance their data protection plans, hackers and other nefarious actors are increasingly turning their sights on smaller companies. Those smaller companies, they assume, may not have the infrastructure or the expertise needed to protect their customer data, and those assumptions often turn out to be right.
In this challenging environment, it is important for the owners of small businesses to recognize the risks and look for cost-effective ways to fight back. For small businesses without a formal IT infrastructure, managed IT services could provide a solution. By handing their IT operations and data security off to a third party, small business owners can put themselves on firmer footing and reduce the risk of a costly data breach.
Limit Your Collection
The more data your small business collects, the more it will need to protect. That increased data collection comes with higher costs and greater risks, so limit the amount of information you gather.
Think carefully about the data you collect from your customers, vendors and employees, and then ask yourself if you really need it. If you do not need a particular piece of personal data, stop collecting it. Limiting your data collection is a great way to reduce your risk, but it is also a good way to reduce your ongoing costs.
Take a Multilevel Approach to Security
Privacy protection and data security is not one thing, and there is no single effective approach. If you want to protect your data and prevent the next data breach, you need to take a multilayered approach to privacy and security.
Your multilevel security approach starts with the people you hire, so stress privacy protection during the onboarding process and throughout any subsequent training. Do not forget about the devices in your employees’ pockets – if they connect to the company network, they could put your data at risk.
You can continue to develop your multilevel approach to security by protecting your servers and desktops, and by doing regular intrusion testing to make sure your defenses are up to speed. The more you do, the lower your risk of a harmful data breach.
It is time for businesses large and small to take data protection and user privacy seriously. Many businesses in the EU were left scrambling when the new GDPR regulations took effect, but their smarter counterparts were already doing things right. If you do not want to be blindsided by the next set of regulations, do yourself – and your customers – a favo0r and implement a strong privacy protection plan now, before it is too late.