The news of high-profile data breaches is making headlines every day. Cybercriminals are targeting companies of every field irrespective of their sizes. If you own an e-commerce site, a content platform, or any kind of online business – you should be very careful about how you collect and use your user data. The advancement of technology also has broadened the door for sophisticated cyberattacks that are more dynamic, diverse and increasingly damaging. Data shared by users might be very sensitive for your company as well as the user. So, a cyberattack or data theft can cause huge reputational damage as well as financial repercussions.
As we have seen the catastrophic consequence of data breaches, customers are aware and concerned about their data privacy more than ever. Recent laws like GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) have imposed stricter rules under which consumers have more control over their data and companies need to bear the huge penalty for mishandling user data. Clearly, companies not only need to prioritize protecting user data but also share their data privacy policies and strategies to build trust and retain customers.
Here are some measures that a company should embrace to ensure User Data Privacy:
The more data you own, the more it becomes a burden for you to protect it and riskier it gets for the user. Ask for only the most important information that is absolutely necessary for your services. If your service offers interaction between users, be very careful what data you allow the public to see. Implement features that prevent the exposure of personal information like email addresses, phone numbers, real names, photos etc. Have a policy in place what data you hold and where it is stored. Monitor the user data regularly to avoid any potential threat.
It is a good practice to track and isolate important data. Ransomware attacks have become frequent where cybercriminals get access to your private data, encrypt it and blackmail your company for ransom to get the data back. This is a common practice to extort money from the victim company. Mitigate this risk by backing up your data regularly. Keep records on where the data is stored and encrypt them. Have some data stored offline as anything on the internet is hackable.
Reusing old passwords or having poor passwords like ‘admin@123’ or ‘12345’ increase the chances of data theft. People are often reluctant or unaware of the importance of having a strong password. As a company, you should have an elaborate internal password policy to prevent any unwanted access. It should be necessary to include capital & small letters, numbers and special characters for creating a strong password. Never store the password in plain text and hash any password you store using a secure hash algorithm. Using password manager and two-factor authentication is critical to protect your data from being in wrong hands.
Consider encrypting all the data you collect. Cloud storage providers usually have an option to encrypt all data automatically. Use a key management service to secure data in case you are using your own database. With encryption, even if a hacker gets access to your data, he will not be able to exploit it without gaining access to the master key which will be extremely difficult to crack. If you have an e-commerce site where online transactions happen, always buy a HTTPS certificate for further protection.
Embrace relevant development practices to reduce the risk of the security flaw in your website or app. Make sure all code pushed to production is reviewed and free from any security flaw. Use tools to detect potential vulnerabilities. Instead of blindly relying on your internal team, hire a third-party security audit team to detect any flaw in your code and infrastructure. Have a cybersecurity strategy in place complying with changing regulations and new consumer privacy acts.
Lastly, maintain transparency with your customers and make them aware of how their data is being collected, used and protected. They should also be given the option to opt-out of data collection any time they want. Thus, you will have their trust and enjoy a better brand image.