eCommerce has grown exponentially in the last several months alone and as much as 19% year-over-year. This means that more companies are operating with a digital footprint than ever. If your organization deals with sensitive customer data, understanding how to manage it securely is imperative. In this blog, we explore in detail why your small business needs a comprehensive data protection strategy.
How to protect personally identifiable information (PII)
As a business owner, it is likely the case that you deal with several forms of digital customer data. With the understanding that most small businesses operate under thin IT security budgets, the most crucial area to focus on is personally identifiable information (PII). Such data defines itself by any information that directly identifies your customer. PII might be details as simple as a customer name and address or information as confidential as social security and credit card numbers.
From a cybersecurity perspective, what your business does with PII is less important than how you protect it. When it comes to maintaining a watertight operation, the two key factors to consider are data security and data privacy. While related, the two concepts imply separate approaches to handling sensitive customer information.
Concerning data privacy, this refers to how you treat your customer’s information. Are you obtaining the proper consent and managing it accordingly? Data security, on the other hand, refers to how to protect customer information from threat actors. Any effective data protection strategy should cover both.
Why is data protection important?
Cyberattacks are increasing, and their incidence rate is remarkably high in small businesses. Criminals know your company is less prepared to defend against an intrusion. In the past, malicious hackers focused primarily on big corporations, but this is no longer the case. These days, bad actors are more inclined to find an easy target and accept a lower payout. For this good reason, smaller companies must be particularly careful with sensitive customer PII.
Data privacy legislation is continually changing, and it varies significantly from country to country. Data privacy laws in the EU differ substantially from data protection policies in the US. If you operate a multinational business, you need to be familiar with the local laws. Otherwise, you could put your business at significant risk of expensive fines and class action lawsuits.
As mentioned, small businesses are not the primary targets of cybercriminals. 70% of small to medium-sized companies reported at least one incidence of an attack within the last year. Most of those organizations were entirely unprepared and lacked the necessary protections to recover from the threat, much less detect and thwart one in advance.
In the event that an attack doesn’t take your operations offline, the slightest incursion on your customer’s PII damages your brand reputation. The sooner your company starts implementing a comprehensive data protection strategy, the more prepared you’ll be when a cybersecurity incident occurs.
How to strategize your IT security
Foremost, you should conduct an analysis of your risk profile. If you don’t know where to start, our expert technicians at PCH Technologies can analyze your small business to expose any existing vulnerabilities. The fundamental problem for small business owners is they face the same catastrophic threats as their big business counterparts. At the same time, they lack the resources to put the same impenetrable data protection systems in place.
After a comprehensive assessment, PCH Technologies can supply you with an effective strategy that allows your organization to adopt the best security practices without breaking the bank. Cybersecurity and protection controls aren’t exactly cheap. But we can install the right solutions according to your company’s risk profile and the sensitivity of the information you handle.
Overseeing all your digital data in-house is ideal, but some businesses find they can cut costs through a co-managed partnership because they simply lack the internal infrastructure and expertise.
Stay ahead of the curve
If you’re managing all your own IT on-premises as a small business owner, remember that it’s your responsibility to keep your security up to date. Privacy and data protection laws are continually changing, and, in the US, they can even vary from state to state. In the event of a breach, you’re the one on the hook.
Consumers are increasingly sensitive about how you deal with their personal data, so you shouldn’t leave anything to chance. If your internal IT department struggles with agility or is starting to display a significant skills gap, consider a co-managed partnership with PCH technologies. To learn more about developing a data protection strategy for your small business, contact us at (856) 754-7500.