Most businesses are aware of the dangers of cyberattacks, disgruntled staff, and human error. Yet, many companies fail to protect their data from a potential leak, theft, or breach.
If you want to keep your company’s information confidential and ensure your customers’ data never falls into the wrong hands, you must adopt tools and tactics to protect it. Here are five steps to take to maintain business privacy.
Step 1: Categorize Confidential Information
Businesses of all sizes should categorize their data by confidentiality and value. For instance, a customer database and employee record systems must be at the top of your company’s list.
You must ensure you protect the following information:
- Social security numbers
- Credit card numbers
- Personal identification numbers
- Account numbers
Next on your list will likely be contracts, financial releases, and customer correspondence. Access controls, data encryption, and managed security services could help you protect your confidential information.
Step 2: Review Current Workflows
Every entrepreneur should have a firm understanding of the current workflows. It is crucial to identify how confidential information is discussed in the business, as it could increase the likelihood of a data leak.
For example, if your employees use a workplace messaging service, a SaaS service may have access to this sensitive data. Therefore, you may need to switch to an open source collaboration solution. For example, mattermost.com provides a workplace messaging platform that you can deploy using a private, public, or hybrid cloud, and you’ll have full access to the source code and control of a single-tenant system, which can improve your digital security and privacy.
Step 3: Introduce Information Distribution Policies
Once you have categorized your company’s confidential information and gained a firm understanding of the workflow, you must produce information distribution policies. Each policy must state who can access, use, and receive confidential information. Plus, you must introduce consequences for employees who violate a policy, such as suspension, dismissal, or legal action.
Ensure you have an information distribution policy in place for:
- Customer data
- Intellectual property
- Employee records
- Executive communications
Also, you must monitor usage to ensure you can identify a data breach, which could prevent confidential information from falling into unauthorized hands.
Step 4: Host Confidentiality Meetings
Gather your employees together at least once per year to discuss the importance of confidentiality. Discuss the many reasons why you must protect customer data, employee records, trade secrets, and more. Plus, you must state the consequences an employee may face should they steal or knowingly leak data. It will ensure your employees take greater care when handling sensitive data, and they’ll think twice before sending a file over an unsecured network.
Step 5: Review Privacy Procedures
Regularly review your company’s security systems, policies, and training procedures to ensure your confidential data remains private. If a cybersecurity system isn’t working or your staff members are failing to follow a policy to the letter, you may need to adopt a new approach to protect your sensitive information.