Customer Data Privacy: 10 Non-Negotiable Best Practices for Businesses

In July 2020, a hacker accessed Twitter’s inner instruments to grab 130 high-profile Twitter accounts—like Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Barack Obama, and Jeff Bezos—and perform a “double your bitcoin” rip-off.

data privacy 2020 twitter hack

Thousands of Twitter customers fell for it, and in only a few hours, the hacker stole over $118,000 price of bitcoin. Since that point, 1000’s of organizations have been breached, from massive multinationals like Apple and Facebook to universities, lodges, hospitals, authorities departments, and even church buildings and fundraising web sites.

The reality is, any group that collects, processes, or shops buyer information is vulnerable to a breach—together with yours. That’s why you should act now to guard this information. This article will present you the way.

Table of contents

  • The significance of knowledge privateness
  • Data privateness rules & requirements to know
  • The largest threats to information privateness & information safety
  • 10 greatest practices to guard your buyer information

The significance of knowledge privateness

Data privateness measures and controls have three primary objectives: To defend the knowledge’s confidentiality and integrity, to construct belief with prospects, and to adjust to information privateness legal guidelines. Failure to implement these controls can result in a breach which may have severe penalties for each people and organizations.

Impact on people

Individuals whose information is stolen might turn into victims of identity theft or fraud. The hackers might use the stolen information to impersonate the sufferer and open traces of credit score, apply for loans, and so on.

The lack of delicate or non-public information may additionally trigger the sufferer to face humiliation, discrimination, monetary losses, or psychological injury. In severe circumstances, their well being, life, or household could also be threatened.

Impact on organizations

Data breaches damage organizations as nicely, particularly financially. According to IBM, the common value of a breach has gone as much as $4.35 million in 2022. Breach prices can embrace attackers’ ransom calls for, plus “cleanup costs” associated to breach remediation and forensic investigations. Regulatory fines and lawsuits may additionally add to the fee.

A breach may also injury the corporate’s repute, buyer notion, and inventory costs. It might lose its prospects’ belief and battle to satisfy its contractual obligations, which might have an effect on its enterprise relationships and income.

cost of data breach in US vs global

Data privateness rules & requirements to know

Following a spate of knowledge breaches lately, many governments have applied information privateness legal guidelines. These legal guidelines regulate how client information is collected, processed, saved, and discarded by organizations. They are supposed to defend client information privateness and safeguard shoppers from the damaging impression of knowledge breaches.


The GDPR applies to any firm working in any nation that collects the knowledge of EU residents. It governs how firms acquire, use, transmit, and safe this information. Organizations that fail to adjust to the legislation could also be fined $20+ million or 4% of whole international turnover.

U.S. information privateness legal guidelines

The USA doesn’t have a single federal information privateness legislation. Instead, quite a few sector- or state-specific legal guidelines govern how organizations acquire, course of, or use client information. For instance, the Health Insurance Portability and Accounting Act (HIPAA) goals to take care of the privateness of protected well being info (PHI). Similarly, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) controls how entities can acquire the private info of California residents.

rights under CCPA

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Industry-specific privateness requirements

Some business our bodies have developed privateness requirements relevant to organizations in sure industries. One instance is the PCI-DSS, which applies to all retailers worldwide who acquire shoppers’ bank card info. Although the usual will not be enforced by any authorities, retailers should adhere to it as a result of their contractual relationship with the bank card firm. The objective is to make sure that companies implement the required safeguards to guard cardholder information and forestall credit card fraud.

Within the tech and promoting business, we’ve seen a lot of adjustments lately within the identify of privateness. For instance, Google decreasing visibility into the search phrases report and Facebook implementing Aggregated Event Measurement.

The largest threats to information privateness & safety

Data privateness is about controlling how the info is collected, shared, and used, whereas information safety is anxious with defending information from exterior attackers and malicious insiders. Despite these variations, there are a number of overlaps between these concepts. Additionally, there are various threats that may have an effect on each information privateness and safety.

Phishing scams

In a phishing rip-off, the attacker sends out emails that seem to return from a trusted supply. The e mail might include a malicious hyperlink or a malicious attachment. When a person clicks on the hyperlink, they are going to be taken to an internet site the place they are going to be requested to supply their non-public info.

The attacker then steals this info, leading to a breach. If the person opens the attachment, the attacker might compromise their machine. They may additionally acquire entry to different sources on the enterprise community and trigger widespread injury. Therefore, it’s necessary to make sure you’re investing in the best anti-phishing answer for your online business.

phishing email example

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Malware and ransomware

Malware and ransomware are large threats to information safety and privateness. In a ransomware assault, an attacker infects company units with malware that encrypts the system and locks out the person. In trade for the decryption key, the legal calls for a hefty ransom from the group. Many ransomware strains can unfold all through the community and exfiltrate large quantities of knowledge.

Insider threats

Insider threats are one other severe menace to information privateness. Since 2020, the frequency of insider incidents has elevated by 44%, and the fee per incident has elevated to $15.38 million.

Some threats come from malicious or compromised insiders resembling staff or third-party distributors. Others come from non-malicious or careless insiders with poor cybersecurity hygiene. For instance, a person might share their password with a colleague whereas one other might retailer delicate information in a public folder. Such errors may end up in unintended information leaks or exposures.

Software vulnerabilities

Security vulnerabilities in units and functions open the door to cybercriminals. Many attackers exploit these vulnerabilities to assault organizations and exfiltrate or compromise buyer information.

10 greatest practices to guard buyer information privateness

Here are ten methods to guard your valuable customer data from cyberattackers and hackers.

1. Know what information you might be accumulating

You can solely defend information if you already know what it’s and the place it’s saved. Understand what sort of information you acquire from prospects, how it’s used, and who’s utilizing it. You also needs to understand how delicate the info is, the place it’s saved, and when it’s shared.

Conduct an information audit to determine information all through the enterprise. Then categorize every information kind based on sensitivity, use case, and wish for accessibility. Finally, put together an information stock to know what information must be protected and which compliance legal guidelines apply to your group.

common data classifications

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Here are some classifications of knowledge to think about:

  • Public information: Press releases, mission statements, listing itemizing info.
  • Internal information: Work schedules, budgets, venture plans, enterprise processes, methods, marketing data.
  • Confidential information: Personal info, protected well being info, personnel data, financials.
  • Restricted information: Passwords, merger/acquisition plans, mental property.

2. Only acquire important info

You can decrease the potential injury of an information breach by accumulating a restricted quantity of private information. Collect solely the non-public or delicate information you want for your online business to satisfy sure objectives, for instance, to enhance buyer experiences and retention.

To consider which information is important, conduct periodic information audits. Then assess whether or not you really need that information. If not, cease accumulating it. This manner, you’ll be able to lower the potential for losses if a breach occurs.

3. Create and publish a clear information utilization and privateness coverage

Define and implement a transparent information privateness coverage and talk it to all stakeholders. The coverage ought to specify who’s allowed to entry the info and the way. It also needs to clearly state how the info ought to and shouldn’t be used.

Also, publish a privateness coverage for prospects on your online business web site. The coverage ought to state how your organization collects, shops, makes use of, and protects buyer information. If you make adjustments to the coverage, ensure that to maintain prospects knowledgeable.

4. Encrypt all delicate person information

Unencrypted, poorly-stored information provides hackers a motive to assault the group. Encrypt all of your information, each in transit and at relaxation. Use 256-key bit size encryption to safe information in emails and file-level encryption to guard information on techniques and servers.

In addition, take common information backups and retailer the backups in a safe location. This manner, even in case you are the goal of a cyberattack like ransomware, you’ll be able to nonetheless entry the info. Moreover, you gained’t should pay the ransom.

types of sensitive data

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5. Protect towards phishing scams

To cut back the chance of loss as a result of phishing assaults, implement email spam filters all through the group. Also replace all units with antivirus and anti-malware software program that updates robotically to cope with rising threats and frequently defend information.

People play an necessary position in minimizing the impression of phishing assaults. Encourage staff to report any e mail scams they encounter to the suitable particular person or division.

6. Update all software program

Hackers reap the benefits of safety vulnerabilities in units and software program to assault organizations and compromise buyer information. Software distributors normally launch patches after they detect vulnerabilities of their merchandise. Implement these patches to deliver your software program updated and defend your buyer information.

7. Implement multi-factor authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) offers extra strong safety for enterprise accounts and information. MFA requires an extra authentication issue, not only a password. So, even when a hacker steals a certified person’s password, they may nonetheless want the second issue to log into an enterprise account. Usually, this issue stays within the approved person’s management, so it’s tough for a hacker to compromise or steal it.

two factor vs multi factor authentication

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8. Train folks about cybersecurity practices

Cybersecurity schooling is important to eradicate people-related weaknesses in cybersecurity. Educate your staff on cybersecurity greatest practices. Train them to acknowledge the indicators of a phishing assault and the way to avoid social engineering scams.

Explain the significance of strong passwords and MFA. Also, present them why they need to not use public Wi-Fi networks for work and all the time adhere to the group’s safety and privateness insurance policies.

9. Limit entry to information

Limiting entry to information on a need-to-know foundation minimizes inner threats to the info. Whenever doable, implement the precept of least privilege (PoLP), so customers can solely entry or edit the info they want for their position. Manage entry ranges and permissions with identification and entry administration (IAM) instruments.

10. Implement a complete information safety infrastructure

To safe buyer information and keep away from breaches, you want a complete safety infrastructure with all these instruments:

  • Antivirus and anti-malware software program
  • Anti-adware and anti-spyware software program
  • Next-generation internet firewall
  • Pop-up blockers
  • Endpoint detection and response (EDR) instruments
  • Vulnerability scanner
  • Password supervisor
  • MFA

Set apart a funds for these instruments. They will assist defend your group from information breaches, and you’ll recuperate your funding pretty rapidly.

Keep your online business, prospects & information secure

The quantity and frequency of knowledge breaches have elevated significantly lately. The final 5 years have been particularly unhealthy, with hackers focusing on a lot of high-profile organizations and affecting tens of millions of individuals.

Fortunately, all will not be misplaced. You do have some management over the info you acquire and use. More importantly, you’ll be able to safe this information and preserve it from falling into the improper palms. By using the concepts and greatest practices shared right here, you’ll be able to cut back the dangers to your organization and prospects.

  • Know what information you might be accumulating
  • Only acquire important info
  • Create and publish a clear information utilization and privateness coverage
  • Encrypt all delicate person information
  • Protect towards phishing scams
  • Update all software program
  • Implement multi-factor authentication
  • Train folks about cybersecurity practices
  • Limit entry to information
  • Implement a complete information safety infrastructure
  • About the creator

    Irina Maltseva is a Growth Lead at Aura and a Founder at ONSAAS. For the final seven years, she has been serving to SaaS firms to develop their income with inbound advertising and marketing. At her earlier firm, Hunter, Irina helped 3M entrepreneurs to construct enterprise connections that matter. Now, at Aura, Irina is engaged on her mission to create a safer web for everybody. To get in contact, observe her on LinkedIn.