In August 2013, a group of hackers compromised over 3 billion Yahoo accounts, including security questions and answers, usernames, and passwords. The Yahoo data breach remains the largest data breach in history.
As a business owner, protecting your users' data is crucial since your business depends on it. Unfortunately, according to research, over $1.5 trillion is lost to cybercriminals, almost equal to the GDP of most countries.
There are no signs of slowing down, which is why you need to take extra precautions to protect your users' data. However, you don't necessarily have to depend on tools and processes since they can be vulnerable too.
Failure to save your business from data breaches could lead to loss of consumer confidence, fines, lawsuits, customers leaving, and more. But if you stick around till the end of this article, you will learn the five ways you can protect your users' data.
1. Collect Only Important Data
Something as simple as an email address is a piece of sensitive information that needs to be protected against hackers. So, to protect your user's data, start by collecting only data that are important to your marketing efforts.
When you do this, you're making the data you have low-value data, and hackers will rarely waste their time trying to access low–value data. So, for instance, if email addresses are all a hacker has access to, they might decide to pull out.
However, if you're collecting your users' names, phone numbers, location, household income, etc., your data becomes valuable to hackers, predisposing you to hackers. The goal should be to make your users' data low-value, and you do that by collecting only vital data and nothing more.
2. Limit Access To Data
Imagine that you have 25 user accounts for your website; that's 25 points of vulnerability. Sometimes all a hacker needs are one weak password, and you expose your entire system to a brute-force attack.
Suppose you're serious about protecting your customer's data. In that case, not everyone on your marketing team needs access to the data you're collecting—the fewer employees with access to sensitive data, the lesser the risk of a data breach.
The problem with having too much access to data is your potential to forget, especially in a situation where you fired an employee. You may have deactivated their company mail and then forget one which they can access from anywhere as they pleased. Less access, less risk!
3. Use Password Managers
On average, people won't use complex passwords since they're hard to remember, making the login point the most vulnerable point of a hack. But you can deal with this potential risk by ensuring your employees use a password management tool.
Not only will a password manager help encrypt and store each password, but it also makes logging in pretty easy since that information is pulled from the password manager. However, it would help if you used a good password manager with complex encryption.
That means even if a hacker breaks into your password manager, all stored passwords will be invalid since they'll be unreadable to the hacker.
4. Educate Your Employees
To protect your users' data from hackers, you first need to educate your employees on cybersecurity. Believe it or not, your employees are the weakest link, often exploited by hackers.
Sometimes the best way to prevent sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands is by training your staff on GDPR requirements and also limiting personal technology use like mobile phones.
It is also crucial to always ensure your business has up-to-date security software since the old software might have some loopholes. Finally, get your employees into the habit of regularly changing their passwords.
In this era of cybersecurity, the best security measure is preparing for the worst. It would help if you had a contingency in case you suffer a data breach. In such situation, know who to contact and how to shut down your systems to prevent further access.
Under GDPR, you must report any data breach to the ICO within 72 hours. In detail, you must explain how it happened, what is being done to contain it, and the next steps you plan to take.
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