Tips for Planning Your Small Business Data Protection Policy

Ben Allen  | 

In today’s world, data is one of the most valuable resources available. The right data in the hands of the right person can be incredibly valuable, whether it’s to inform business decisions or to steal identities.

As a business, you are going to encounter a lot of data, especially information from your customers. Keeping your data protected needs to be a priority. It is your responsibility to protect your customers’ data, and it’s a good idea to keep your own data safe too. Criminals and competitors alike want your data, so here’s what you need to do to keep it secure.

Set and Enforce a Privacy Policy

First, you need to tell your customers and website visitors that you are going to collect their information. This is done through your business’ privacy policy, a legal document that outlines the ways you collect and use visitor data. Having a privacy policy informs your users that you do actively collect their data. That way, your visitors and customers know what is happening and can stop it if they don’t like it.

Common personal data businesses gather include:

  • First and last names
  • Email addresses
  • Gender
  • Mailing addresses
  • Age
  • Credit Card information
  • Usernames
  • Passwords
  • IP addresses
  • Website traffic information like what pages are person visits

As you create a privacy policy, make sure to identify all of the information you will gather from consumers. That way, you can properly address it in your policy and decide what steps you will take to protect that information. You can also make decisions about what data you don’t need to collect. The less data you collect and store, the less you have to worry about protecting.

Another important point to address is who will have access to that information. Is the information limited to upper-management, or can anybody at the business see it? Is the data limited to just your business or will you be selling information to third parties? Again, the more restricted access to personal data is, the lower the chances it will be compromised.

After you’ve created your privacy policy, you need to enforce it. Make sure everybody at your business is doing their part to follow the privacy policy and that when necessary, it is updated. Failing to follow your own privacy policy can put you in legal hot water, meaning extra legal risks you don’t need.

Create Email and Internet Security Standards

Once you’ve created your privacy policy, it’s time to take steps to protecting your data. That means making sure you have security standards all employees must follow.

A good starting point is making sure all emails, social media accounts, and company logins require strong passwords. A good password should include a mix of letters, numbers, symbols, uppercase and lowercase, and should not be a word found in a dictionary. The stronger the password, the harder it is for hackers to guess your employees’ passwords. After that, improve other aspects of account security, like strong security questions and set up SMS alerts.

Educate your employees on best practices when using email and being online. This should include things like not opening strange emails or sharing personal information online. Hackers are just as likely to target flaws your employees have as they are with tech flaws. And if the growing amount of data breaches are anything to go by, they are getting pretty good at it.

Develop a Mobile and BYOD Policy

It’s likely that everybody at your business has a smartphone, and maybe some employees prefer to bring their own computers into work. This is often known as BYOD: bring your own device. While all of your computers at the company are secured, how safe are the devices your employees bring in?

Depending on how secure you need to have your data, and what your employees use their own devices for, will include any policy you create. If employees are accessing sensitive information with their own devices, they need to be secured. The devices need security software, passcodes, and extra forms of verification before they can be allowed access to information. If your employees aren’t using their devices for any kind of work, there is less stress to create a harsh policy on them.

It’s also important to recognize security flaws if you have employees working remotely or from home. Many people want to work from home, so if you want to stay as an attractive employer, it’s something you need to consider. These kind of employees aren’t protected by things like a company firewall or security software. If they have access to any kind of sensitive data, you need to make sure their devices at home are secured.

Backing Up Your Data

Sometimes, the unthinkable happens. A flood hits your business, a virus infects your computers, a hard drive goes missing and all of your data is gone. Destroyed. Stolen. Not only does this data loss hurt your business, it inconveniences your customers and puts them at risk.

Backup your data regularly. Use both the cloud and physical hard drives, that way your data is safe no matter what happens. Either assign somebody with the task to make sure your data is backed up regularly, or get a software program to do it for you.

Remain Vigilant About Data Protection

Your company’s digital security is not a one time task. You and your employees need to keep vigilant at all times and be constantly improving. A single moment of poor judgement can spell ruin for both you and your customers.

Regularly examine your different security policies and update them when needed. Keep your security software up to date and keep on your employees to make sure they meet your security standards. Alongside protecting your business from all other kinds of threats, make tech security a top priority.

For more tips and guides, visit our small business resource center.


Image Sourcehttps://depositphotos.com/

Ben Allen is a freelance content creator and digital marketer who believes in helping small businesses succeed. He spends his free time bragging about his two daughters, eating stuffed crust pizza, and playing video games.

This post was updated December 7, 2017. It was originally published December 2, 2017.