Data Breach Preparedness: A Small Business Owner’s Guide

What is Data Privacy?

To put it simply, data privacy is the protection of all aspects of people’s confidential information. Most people just think of how the information is gathered, but data privacy also includes how the information is stored, tracked and used. 

Since we’re all in our “accept cookies” era when it comes to most of our online dealings, it’s important to understand how data privacy actually works, and the implications when it doesn’t. 

As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your customers’ information is secure in your digital hands. You should be performing regular evaluations to make sure you’re up to date with the latest and most effective software tools to ensure customers’ informational safety. We’ll help you get started.

Data Privacy and Your Business

Dealing with your clients’ personal information responsibly is the right thing to do, yes, but it’s important for several other reasons as well. 

  • Reputation – if you can’t handle storing information, why should your customers trust you with providing a quality service or product? We’ve all seen the implications data breaches have had on even major, well-established companies throughout the years; don’t add your name to the headlines.
  • Legality – many regions have strict legal codes to follow when it comes to data compliance. As the internet evolves and becomes even more complex, we wouldn’t be surprised if these regulations shift and/or become even more stringent, with failure to comply leading to steep fines.
  • Customer loyalty – ensuring safe data storage demonstrates to your customer that while they might be making a purchase online, to you they are more than an “input card number” line. Clients want to feel valued and part of that is knowing that you care enough to respect their privacy and treat the information they give you with care.
  • SEO ranking – if your reputation plummets too much because of mishandled data, this could affect organic searches, and tank your rankings.
  • Page performance – having a secure site also means that you are protected from cyber-attacks which can affect the literal performance of your website, especially load speed (which again, can have implications on your SEO ranking).

Tools of the Cyber-Security Trade

Now that we’ve freaked you out about the status of your data privacy process, we thought we’d give you a few resources to help ensure you and your clients feel secure and protected against digital mayhem. Keep in mind, technology changes rapidly so it’s a good rule of thumb to regularly research better, newer ways of safeguarding online privacy. 

  • Privacy Management Platforms – PMPs typically offer features like consent management, data mapping, risk assessments, and tools for managing data subject requests. They provide a centralized platform for organizations to monitor and manage their privacy compliance efforts.

Examples: OneTrust, TrustArc, and DataGrail

  • Tokenization – replaces hackable data with meaningless equivalents that can’t be exploited. This tool is most often employed when payments are processed.  
  • Encryption – using algorithms, encryptions translate data into a more secure format that’s unbreachable unless authorized users make the attempt and have the proper digital keys. 
  • AI privacy solutions – AI can be used to automate tasks like data discovery, classification, and monitoring for privacy compliance. Since robots never sleep, this is a 24/7 option to monitor data privacy.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it should give you a good start on ways to protect your business and customers. In an online world that is growing increasingly complex, it’s sad to say that so too is the prowess of those who would steal valuable information. As small business owners, it can seem daunting to acquire a robust offensive against these efforts, but it’s critical for you, your reputation, and the future of your business. 

And if all this tech talk seems seriously daunting, we’re here to help! We have an eye for design and data security and would be happy to perform data privacy audits, recommend best solutions, or suggest other ways to conduct business easily and safely.