It often feels that we lack privacy these days. Between oversharing on social media and access to the thoughts of politicians and celebrities, it can feel like we are exposed to information even as we hand over our own. It’s that handing over of our private information that ought to be a cause for concern for small businesses. From the email addresses and bank details of your client to the home addresses printed on their paper invoices, you need to make sure that at every stage of your operation, the data that your customers are trusting you with is as safe and secure as possible. With cybercrime promising to continue its growth as a lucrative criminal revenue option, more than ever you need to protect your accumulated data and make sure that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
It’s a sad fact that the weakest link in your security strategies is the people around you. Even if you’re security conscious, you need to make sure that your team is aware of the key ways of protecting the information that you hold. Often this can mean something as easy as a training session on the importance of strong password construction. Negligent employees are responsible for an estimated 63 per cent of data breaches, so it can only benefit you to make sure that your staff knows the damage that using ‘password123’ for every online account can cause.
Know the law
Since 1998, UK customers have been protected by the Data Protection Act, in which the responsibility for data protection is stated clearly as the responsibility of the business. However, in May 2018, the EU will implement the General Data Policy Regulation (GDPR), which grants customers even greater protection against the growing threat of cybercrime. The GDPR firmly places businesses owners as ultimately responsible for personal data. Failing to take legal changes into account could make the difference between a successful future for your company or a lengthy legal case and the loss of customers. If your business wants to trade with Europe, then the GDPR is going to have an impact on you.
Outsourcing has become a key trend in business management over the last few years, and it’s easy to understand why. Although there can be negatives, outsourcing can free up your staff and refocus them on their optimum goals, and also means that you can utilise the skills and experience of experts. One of the most common outsourcing areas is that of IT, and with technology so much a vital business tool, it‘s no surprise that it’s often cheaper to hire a team of experts to cope with the ever-evolving cyber landscape while your own staff concentrates on their original roles.
Whether you dedicate a new server to store your customers’ data or you simply adopt a new encryption service, the role of businesses in storing customer data is once again at the forefront of legal changes and the social changes that technology has wrought. Failing to protect the data that you hold can have a devastating effect on your SME, and failing to have a strategy in place to protect against a security breach, and a plan to implement in order to minimise damage, can ruin the future of your business.