Do you know what kind of personal information you collect from your customers—and how you are protecting it? Basic information such as a name, an email address and banking information are often all hackers need to carry out sophisticated identify theft schemes. Yet, many business owners don’t have a clear idea of what personal information they are holding and how they should be protecting it.
Turning a blind eye to data privacy can be costly for businesses. The proliferation of breaches and consumer demands for privacy and control of their own data have led governments to adopt new regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Businesses need to expect more astute questions from customers about their data privacy programs.
What is personal information?
Personal information is anything that can directly or indirectly identify a person. This can include:
- an individual’s name
- date of birth
- contact information
- credit card number
- social insurance number
- IP address
- location data
From a consumer perspective, data privacy is the ability to understand and have control over:
- what information is being collected about them
- who is accessing it and who is storing it
- for what purpose
- how long it’s kept
- how it’s disposed off, if at all
- how it’s being protected
- whether it’s being transferred or sold to third parties
If done well, the way you handle data privacy can become a point of differentiation and even a source of competitive advantage for your business.
5 steps to prioritizing data privacy
- Understand the Data You Collect: The first step in prioritizing data privacy is to understand what data you collect, why you collect it, and how you use it. This includes personal data such as names, email addresses, phone numbers, and sensitive data such as financial information, medical information, or other confidential information.
- Identify Potential Risks: Once you understand the data you collect, the next step is to identify potential risks associated with it. Consider the likelihood and impact of data breaches or unauthorized access, as well as the potential consequences for individuals whose data is compromised.
- Implement Appropriate Security Measures: To protect the data you collect, you should implement appropriate security measures such as encryption, access controls, and monitoring tools. These measures can help reduce the risk of data breaches and unauthorized access, and demonstrate your commitment to data privacy.
- Continuously Monitor and Improve: Data privacy is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. You should regularly monitor your data privacy practices, review your security measures, and identify opportunities for improvement. This includes staying up-to-date with changing regulations and best practices, and proactively addressing any privacy concerns or incidents that arise.