Every business handles some type of sensitive data, whether they realize it or not. Sensitive data is defined as information that needs to be protected against unwarranted exposure. It is the business’s responsibility to safeguard and protect sensitive data. Here are three types of sensitive data your company probably handles, and how to keep it safe.
Image via Flickr by Ervins Strauhmanis
Customer data can be anything from credit card numbers to email addresses to passwords. This type of data is collected either during a sale or during an exchange where a customer signs up to use a service or product. Customer data also includes identifying information collected through a phone, email, or mail campaign.
There have been many well-covered customer data breaches over the last five years, from retailers to online systems. Each has been met with a harsh backlash from the customers whose data was compromised.
Intellectual property is anything that a company or business uses to create, make, or sell their product or service. Intellectual property includes trade secrets, proprietary computer code, private market research, designs, and files. This data is often kept on the cloud through a system such as Office 365. The loss of intellectual property can have a significant impact on a business’s revenues and their reputation.
In addition to the intellectual property held by a company for its own purposes, many companies also hold intellectual property for a business partner. An example of this is when a company is building one piece of a machine and has the design files stored for the entirety of the project. The loss of such files could break a non-disclosure agreement and harm a partner relationship.
A business with employees will store a plethora of sensitive data. That data includes employee’s addresses, banking information, Social Security number, family information, and salaries. Breaches of employee data security can open the door to identity theft for the employee and lawsuits for the employers. It is critical that employee data, as well as other types of sensitive data, are protected.
How to Keep Sensitive Data Safe
Keeping sensitive data safe is the responsibility of the business who holds it, and they can do so by implementing the appropriate safety protocols across their digital storage systems.
First, ensure any digital systems have data controls in place that will safeguard against any malicious attacks or attempts to hack the information. A combination of best practices and up-to-date security protocols need to be managed by competent security professionals on a consistent basis.
Second, regulate who has access to the information. By implementing user roles and permissions, a company can control who is granted access to sensitive data and ensure that those who have access are properly trained in its handling.
Third, keep a vigilant watch for risks and scan for breaches. Catching a hack early can often minimize the loss, and therefore the damages associated with the loss.
All businesses store some form of sensitive data, and understanding how to handle and safeguard that information is critical to reducing the risk of revenue loss and damage to the business’s reputation. By knowing where and how sensitive data is stored, a business can do their best to keep it secure.