Like any relationship, the relationship between a customer and a business should be built on trust. In the case of privacy and personal information, your customers are trusting that you are being responsible with their information.
Unfortunately, many businesses aren’t.
This is a serious issue for a number of reasons. If a customer’s data is leaked, it could result in them suffering from events such as fraud or identity theft. Depending on the nature of the information, it could also lead to public embarrassment.
On the business side, you could face lawsuits, fines, penalties, and more. Not only will your reputation be tarnished, but the cost of a breach could be enough to shutter your company altogether.
For the sake of both yourself and your customers, it’s vital that you are handling your customer’s information appropriately. If you’ve never considered whether or not you might be violating the privacy of your customers, now is the time to take a closer look.
Here are some of the common ways that businesses might be risking their customers’ privacy.
Mishandling Credit Card Information
There are a number of laws dictating how credit card information is to be captured and stored. Businesses regularly fail to follow these, keeping full credit card details in unprotected spreadsheets, PDF documents, and more.
If you have unencrypted credits card info stored in your system, you are absolutely risking the privacy of your customers. The same goes for printing off credit card information at any time. Under FACTA, businesses are not allowed to print more than 5 digits of a customer’s credit card number.
Leaving Private Information Accessible to Anyone in Your System
Customer information is best handled in a need-to-know manner. It should only be accessible by those who actually need it and work with the customer in question. The more people who have access to it, the more vulnerable it is to exposure.
Accessing or Storing Information on Personal Devices
The practiced of BYOD (bring your own device) can lead to a number of security vulnerabilities. Personal devices are less controlled and therefore, less secure. When client information is accessed on a personal device, it is often put at risk of being leaked.
Confidential and sensitive information should only be accessed from secure devices and locations.
Not Backing It Up
When storing information pertaining to your client, you’re not just responsible for protecting it against breaches and leaks. It’s your responsibility to safeguard it from erasure as well. Losing information due to hardware failure, data corruption, or anything else can a big problem.
Proper backup systems are vital to protecting your customers.
Failing to Properly Communicate with Your Clients
Transparency is a very important part of protecting your customers’ privacy. In recent times, we’ve seen Facebook, Yahoo, and countless other brands face criticism, fines, and lawsuit for storing, gathering, and sharing information about their customers without properly telling them they were doing so.
You have a responsibility to let your customers know what information you’re keeping, how it’s being handled, who it’s being shared with, etc.
Compliancy Standards or Not, You Are Responsible
Many companies operate within industries that are governed by universal compliancy standards such as HIPAA or FISMA. Even if you don’t fall under a specific set of standards, you are still legally responsible for how you handle the information of your customers.
There are countless laws and regulations in place to protect everyday people from businesses so that they aren’t exploited. Navigating these requirements takes strategy and on-going efforts. Many businesses simply do not have the manpower or money to adequately handle and protect client information.
This is where a third-party IT company can save you a lot of trouble. At Expedient Technology Solutions, we provide a range of IT solutions to make your life less stressful. Our cyber security specialists in Dayton, Ohio can help safeguard your clients’ privacy, wherever you might be operating from.
Contact us today!