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In recent years, the rapid development of advanced technology has brought about significant changes in how businesses operate. Many companies are embracing new technologies such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things, among others, to streamline operations and enhance competitiveness. However, as businesses become more reliant on technology, they become more vulnerable to data security hacks. Hackers are constantly finding new ways to exploit vulnerabilities in technology systems, steal sensitive data, and cause significant damage to businesses.

consumer data security
Infographic from OAIC

One of the highly-compromised information in vulnerable networks of any organization is its consumer data. A recent Office of the Australian Information Commissioner report shows 41% of data breaches resulted from cyber security incidents during the first half of 2022. In this regard, businesses must understand how advanced technology can compromise consumer data which could have catastrophic consequences. Therefore, as a technology-oriented business, organizations should ensure their customers’ information security at all costs. In the following sections, we will explain in detail some strategic measures to ensure that consumer data security in your business is firmly in place.

How can you increase consumer data security?

As mentioned, you should always protect your consumers’ data at all costs. Here are several strategies that you could apply in your business to increase its security:

Collect only the information that is needed:

When gathering consumer information, getting only the minimum details from your clients as much as possible is crucial. There are several reasons why:

  • It minimizes the risk of data breaches: Collecting only necessary data means less data to store, manage, and protect. It reduces the risk of data breaches, as there are less data that cybercriminals could target.
  • It reduces exposure to sensitive information: Collecting unnecessary data can increase the amount of sensitive information that businesses hold. It can increase the risk of unauthorized access and misuse of that data. Collecting only necessary data limits the exposure of sensitive information, reducing the risk of data breaches and identity theft.
  • It increases transparency and trust: When businesses collect only necessary data, consumers are more likely to trust that your business handles their data responsibly. This approach increases your confidence to do your best to secure their information as best as possible. It also improves transparency and increases customer loyalty.
  • It complies with regulations: Collecting unnecessary data may put businesses in violation of data protection laws and regulations. For example, in Australia, Privacy Act 1988 requires business owners to protect their customer information, and if there is no need for them, you must destroy or de-identify them. Collecting only the minimum information will make it easier to comply with these regulations.

Implement data security policies

One of the topmost priorities of businesses regarding data security is the implementation of strong data security policies. Every organization is encouraged to establish such guidelines to secure all sensitive data. Another significance of data security policies is that they promote a security culture within your business. It helps instill within your employees that security should always be their priority when dealing with consumer data. It also increases their awareness of the importance of consumer data security.As the landscape is evolving with the Internet of Things technologies, seeking IoT consulting services can fortify the implementation of these policies and effectively address emerging security concerns.

Train employees on data security

As with any other employee training, training them on data security should also be your business’ topmost priority. As mentioned in the previous section, increasing their awareness of up-to-date data security policies helps ensure consumer data protection.

Aside from that, it also helps your employees develop good data security habits, such as creating strong passwords, using two-factor authentication, and regularly backing up data. These habits can help to reduce the likelihood of data breaches and cyber-attacks.

With proper training, you can also reduce the likelihood of human error in dealing with consumer data. Many data breaches occur due to employees’ mistakes, such as accidentally sending an email to the wrong person or falling for a phishing scam. Training employees on data security can help to reduce these types of mistakes.

Use data encryption

More and more businesses use data encryption to protect sensitive consumer data. A 2021 global survey revealed that almost 60% of respondents used enterprise encryption in their data. Data encryption converts plain text into coded text that trusted personnel can only decipher through a decryption key. In a similar vein, many businesses employ vpn service to encrypt internet traffic, adding an additional layer of protection especially during data transmission over unsecured networks. Its purpose is to protect sensitive information, such as passwords, financial data, and personal information, from unauthorized access, theft, or disclosure. 

By using data encryption, your business can be ensured of protected data when stored, in transit, or upon receipt. You are also assured that data security breaches, identity theft, and other forms of risks are significantly reduced because of encryption.

Regularly update software and hardware

Engaging in regular hardware development services is crucial, as these services ensure that your physical technology remains robust against emerging threats. Furthermore, these services can provide innovative solutions that not only secure your systems but also enhance overall performance and efficiency.

  • Patching security vulnerabilities: Updates to hardware and software often include security patches that address known vulnerabilities. Attackers could exploit these vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access to consumer data. Regularly updating systems ensures that the latest security patches are applied, reducing the risk of data breaches.
  • Upgrading to more secure versions: As new hardware and software versions are released, they often include improved security features and better encryption methods. Upgrading to these more secure versions can help protect consumer data from unauthorized access.
  • Keeping up with changing threats: Cyber threats and attack methods are constantly evolving. Regularly updating hardware and software ensures that businesses are equipped with the latest defenses against these threats.
  • Improved security policies: Regular updates often come with new features, such as multi-factor authentication or password managers, which can help businesses implement more robust security policies and protect consumer data.

Develop a breach response plan

In cementing your data security, you should be proactive in preventing cyber threats and responding to them in case cybercriminals attack your business. This is where a breach response plan comes in. The breach response plan is a tremendous help in the following ways:

  • Quick response to breaches: A breach response plan provides a framework for businesses to respond quickly and effectively to a breach. The plan outlines the steps to take in the event of a breach, ensuring that businesses can take swift action to contain the breach and limit the damage to consumer data.
  • Minimizing the impact of breaches: A breach response plan can help businesses minimize the impact of a breach by identifying the types of data that were breached, the extent of the breach, and the potential risks to consumers. This information can help businesses take appropriate action to mitigate the impact of the breach, such as notifying affected consumers or offering credit monitoring services.
  • Improving overall security practices: Developing a breach response plan requires businesses to evaluate their overall security practices and identify areas for improvement. By doing so, businesses can strengthen their security posture and reduce the likelihood of future breaches.

Applying the good practices mentioned in this section can guarantee your business increased consumer data security and protection. There are also several tools that you can use alongside these tasks. The best ones for you will depend on your needs. For instance, you want to use business intelligence (BI) software that can assist you in your data protection activities. You can refer to the best BI systems ranking that will fit your business requirements.

Consumer data security should be your business priority.

consumer data security
Image from Freepik

Consumer data security should be a top priority for businesses of all sizes and across all industries. With an increasing number of data breaches and cyber-attacks, the protection of consumer data has become a critical concern for businesses. Failure to adequately secure consumer data can have significant consequences, such as financial loss, reputational damage, and legal liability.

As a business, you should be proactive in making sure that your data security measures are in place at all times. Using the strategies above, you can be guaranteed that your consumer data stays protected.

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