How To Protect Your Customer Data and Privacy

4 min read · 6 months ago

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Data security

Keeping customer data safe is an essential part of modern-day business. These five steps will orientate you on what to do to ensure website transparency, security, and privacy is always intact.

Almost 80% of consumers are concerned about data security—and for a good reason. As we head into 2021, security issues are becoming more commonplace. Hackers target small companies for cyber-attacks to steal personal information from websites that haven’t seen the warning signs.

Weaker online security makes new eCommerce websites an easy target. The importance of customer data cannot be overstated. As you sell products and collect customer data, measures must be put into place to safeguard your consumers’ data privacy. 

Here are five steps a small business must follow to ensure that their online store is 100% secure and safe for customers to use. This is customer data security 101. 

 

Customer purchasing and item online

#1: Build a Cybersecurity Plan

After a cyber-attack, 60% of small businesses close. The damage a single attack can inflict on a company and its customers is significant. It’s short-sighted to believe that your site won’t be targeted when nearly half of all cyber-attacks intentionally target smaller companies. 

The more shocking statistic is that only 14% of these businesses could defend against hackers and protect their customer data. For this reason, building a cybersecurity plan is a must-have for every new online store that opens. 

It should include:

  • A set of site security policies
  • A data security policy (insisting that customer passwords be strong)
  • A data classification policy
  • Email security and authentications
  • A system, website, and network security
  • Training for anyone with access to sensitive information on the site

The best defense is a usable cybersecurity plan and closely monitoring customer data and activities flowing through the website. Don’t wait for a threat to attack—plan to defend against it.

 

#2: Limit Access To Customer Information

Customer privacy is a concern for all employees that work on or in an eCommerce business. Data protection means limiting access to customer information so that vulnerabilities aren’t unintentionally created, triggering an attack. Only a select few should have direct access.

Protocols like this prevent unsecured devices from accessing the site or backdoors being created through phishing or fake user access. Strong password-protected computers and devices loaded with the latest anti-spyware and anti-malware are essential. 

All networking equipment must be accessible to key leaders only, not general staff. As a rule, passwords must be changed every month, and two-factor authentication is a good idea. Move your site to a private network or a secure server with limited access.

 

Business people looking at a tablet

#3: Comply With New Data Law

To protect customer information, have a review process in place so that the company’s cybersecurity plan is regularly updated to comply with new laws. With the blinding pace of technology, a big part of securing customer data involves compliance with current law. 

Regulations are always changing, and updates must be made so that your online business does not fall behind and become vulnerable to threats. Customer privacy acts and new regulation revisions are integral to ensure the safety and security of private data. 

 

#4: Embrace Company-Wide Data Transparency

As an online shop owner who monitors and manages data risk, it’s important to inform customers exactly how their data is collected, used, and kept secure. Customers will not want to buy from a store without the proper security in place and assurances about correct data management. 

This comes in the form of a set of policy documents that are to be included in the cybersecurity plan. 

Be transparent about your intentions with customer data, allow them to opt-out of these plans to give them greater control, and always update consumers on the latest protections. 

Host complete data privacy policies on your business website and make them publicly accessible. This will drive trust and loyalty, which can give you a competitive edge in the market. 

 

Data security professionals at work

#5: Conduct Regular Updates and Tests

Install reputable, paid software designed to protect customer data. Find an antivirus software package and a network-wide software package to guarantee customer data security. Adding free software is not good enough. This software needs to be updated regularly with the latest version to avoid issues. 

Every update ensures that the software can protect against the latest threats, so when you fail to keep software current, you open up vulnerabilities. Hackers can then use backdoors to compromise customer information. Once this happens, it is impossible to undo.

As a final line of defense, set up regular tests to ensure that every part of the eCommerce site is fully protected at all times. Some software automatically tests this for you or, choose to partner with a web host that keeps the site updated and secure—with an SSL certificate. 

Hire an ethical hacking company or a cybersecurity team to try and crack your site. They will tighten up the security and make sure that any coding bugs are fixed so nothing can be exploited. 

Owning and operating an eCommerce platform comes with a certain amount of responsibility. If your customer data falls into the wrong hands, it’s not just the site that will suffer. People lose large amounts of money and get involved in serious identity theft cases when security is not a priority. 

 

Protect your customer data and privacy by following these five critical steps. A small business that focuses on a secure shopping environment will benefit from trusting, long-term customers. 

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