Closed padlock in front of blue floating binary code showing need for data security

Customer Data Security: 5 Pillars To Keep Customer Information Safe

It is crucial to taking the right precautions when it comes to data management. Today’s world of big data and mass collection of consumer information has resulted in a significant rise in cybercrime. Consumers now look for a deeper level of trust when it comes to internet security.

Because of this, companies across all industries and domains have a greater responsibility to protect their consumer’s data. They need to take the right steps to ensure the safe storage of this information. This will help organizations build more trusting relationships with consumers while facilitating safer and more credible business processes.

The year 2020 – A wave of cyberattacks

With the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world saw major brands become victims of cyberattacks. Some of the biggest breaches in cybersecurity this year include:

  • Twitter was hacked through a phone spear-phishing campaign. It targeted accounts of 130 high-profile figures and celebrities.
  • Cybercriminals stole more than 500,000 Zoom passwords and put the credentials up for sale on the dark web.
  • Magellan Health experienced a ransomware attack and data breach impacting 365,000 patients.
  • Cybercriminals hacked MGM Resorts and Marriott International, thereby gaining access to data on millions of their guests.

Most Common Cyber Threats

There have been some staggeringly large data breaches over the years. This is something that can severely affect businesses. Therefore, it is vital for data security officers to understand cyber threats and know how to avoid them.

Here are some of the most common types of cyber threats to be aware of:

  • Malware – software that is specially designed to gain access to a system.
  • Phishing – fraudulent emails that trick people into providing information.
  • Man-in-the-middle attack – intercepting information that is being communicated between two different sides.
  • SQL injection – injecting code into a database to provide hackers with access and information.
  • DNS tunneling – extracting data using a malicious server.
  • Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks – making a network resource unavailable to its users and disrupting the regular traffic.

5 best practices to protect your consumer data

You would never intentionally put your consumer data at risk. Yet, having poor cybersecurity infrastructure does just that.

Consumers deserve trust and safety, so companies need to avoid expensive data breaches at all costs. Here are some best practices to follow to enhance your security.

1. Keep encryption practices up-to-date

Encryption technologies are evolving at a very rapid pace. By staying up-to-date with them, companies ensure optimal security for their clients.

Data encryption provides complete data protection and security across multiple devices. Companies should use encryption to protect stored and sent data from hackers.

Some best encryption practices include:

  • Never use old encryption ciphers.
  • Encrypt data in layers.
  • Make sure to keep the encryption keys secure.
  • Use very long encryption keys.
  • Continually monitor the encryption performance.
2. Limit access to consumer information

Limiting access to consumer information is another effective way to protect consumer data. Companies need to implement authorization and authentication practices to enhance security.

With authorization protocols in place, organizations can limit and restrict user access to information. This ensures that users only have access to information relevant to them, thereby protecting sensitive resources and data.

Authentication processes are also essential as they verify the person requesting access. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is one of the most compelling authentication methods. It increases account security by requiring multiple forms of verification to gain access.

Some other authentication best practices include:

  • Using one-time passwords
  • Biometric authentication
  • Security token-based authentication
3. Consumer privacy is a top priority

In the digital age, organizations across all industries store massive amounts of data. Proper data governance (DG) is, therefore, a crucial aspect of data security. Organizations need to manage and control the usability, accessibility, integrity, and security of their data according to the appropriate internal data policies.

For example, in the EU, companies need to adhere to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which sets a standard for data transfers. The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is a similar state law to enhance consumer protection.

According to these regulations, companies must disclose any data collection, the purpose for data collection, how long they will retain the data for, and if they will share it with any third parties.

Consumers should also be able to access all the information that companies have about them and how they use that information. Not only does this provide legal data protection for individuals, but it also creates transparency, which helps to build trust between companies and consumers.

4. Only gather essential information

To ensure that they only gather essential information, companies should use secure practices such as progressive profiling and CIAM platforms.

Through progressive profiling, organizations collect small bits of information from their consumers instead of gathering large pools of data at a time.

Some benefits of progressive profiling include:

  • Offering a better user experience.
  • More targeted lead nurturing.
  • Continually gather information from consumers.
  • Secondary offers pages can have more questions.
  • Fewer forms.

For secure data management, consumer identity and access management platforms are also incredibly useful. They provide a more streamlined consumer experience and enhanced security for data and consumer accounts.

Other benefits include:

  • Advanced authentication options like the use of MFA, smart, and passwordless login.
  • Single sign-on (SSO) to allow a consumer to log in to any independent application with a single set of credentials.
  • A unified view of consumers’ journey across multiple applications and services.
  • To meet the regulatory requirements of different regions like the EU’s GDPR and California’s CCPA essential for global business.
5. Stay up-to-date with the latest technology trends

Technology is constantly evolving, and businesses need to keep up with it. Organizations need to maintain their technology systems and keep as up-to-date with the latest security trends as possible.

Some current trends in data protection include:

  • Data privacy is a larger focus in boardroom discussions and executive roles.
  • A move towards a single, enterprise-wide privacy strategy.
  • A continued increase in third-party risk management.
  • Validating users before information granting access (with MFA).
  • Increased transparency between organizations and consumers.

Final thoughts

Protecting consumer data should be a top priority for any organization. As the world continues to take a larger step towards online systems, more and more personal information becomes available. This presents large-scale opportunities for cyber hackers, which could result in major losses for companies.

The steps above are simple but effective tools for reducing cybercrime and increasing data protection measures.