When starting a business, so much focus is placed on using proper marketing to attract customers, and then ensuring those customers remain happy. Once you gain their trust, it is essential that you protect their personally identifiable information (PII). According to a 2015 study by IBM, the average cost to businesses from data breaches in 2014 was $3.8 million. Many large data breaches have been in the news over the past few years including one recent breach involving Anthem. Based on reports from Anthem, 78.8 million people had their personal information exposed, making the cost of this breach over $100 million. Keeping PII safe and secure could save both you and your customers from major problems.

 

Create a written plan

Don’t wait until a breach happens to your company to create a plan. Develop your plan now and make sure to map out all contingencies. Include all key members of your organization. This includes your technology team, legal team, public relations team and customer care team. You will also need to know the appropriate contacts with law enforcement. This plan should be reviewed and practiced periodically.

 

Keep paper files under lock & key

With paper files, you don’t have to worry about computer hacks. However, it’s important to limit access of sensitive information to those who need to see it. A level of command and control is critical so that customer information isn’t in the hands of those who don’t need it. At times it may seem inconvenient to lock file cabinets, but that command and control is critical. If someone does not need access to PII you should avoid giving them access to those files.

 

Securely back up records

The invention of Cloud computing has allowed for greater flexibility in the workplace. Files are no longer restricted just to file cabinets. Access to important files are available virtually anywhere. The files can be archived through this method or reside in the Cloud as a working document. Many of these tools including Google Drive, Dropbox and One Drive, allow various levels of access to information. Utilizing these tools’ security features is critical to keeping customer info safe. These services also provide an audit process that lets you know who accessed what files at what time. The utilization of file backups and cloud computing may not eliminate paper files, but should be considered when looking at your information security.

 

Update your computer systems

A key step that is often overlooked in protecting customer information is updating your computer software. It is critical that internet browsers have the latest browser updates and security patches. Other software on your computer should be checked for updates periodically as well.

 

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