Where’s the Weakest Link? Protecting your clients’ data matters!

By John

For most of us, IT is a given, a facet of the 21st century that is taken for granted. The confidence that we have in the technology that surrounds us provides us with a vibe to dream and a springboard from which to undertake new  strategies and digital projects forward. Yet behind every strategy, there’s a lot of thought (or at least there SHOULD BE) dedicated to protecting the clients’ data.

As a business, we all collect information about our clients. Today few are the firms that do not handle customer relationship management and even the most basic of CRM system means that you are holding information about your client. Even if you have no CRM strategies in place, information is sometimes needed to be able to provide a service to the client.  Think of the simple grocery store, who pens down the addresses of clients who request delivery!

In a digital age, where information is captured in a seamless and practically invisible manner, the client might not even be aware of the amount of information that a business is capturing. This, however, does not exonerate the business from ensuring good governance in the matter.  Thinking about protecting clients’ data starts by considering the kind of information and the level of detail that you are storing about your customers and then looking at the kind of security system that you need to have in place.  One cannot ignore having the appropriate type of Privacy Policy on the website that has been duly vetted by the company’s lawyer who understands the business operations.

In web design and development, we know that online behaviour of customers depends on cues of trust that the website communicates. For example, a website with errors and bugs is a false start if you wish customers to connect with you. The website has to make the customer feel ‘safe’.  One highly visible aspect is the padlock sign in the URL that indicates that the site is using the https protocol. Failure to consider the importance of cues of trust, will result in lost business and sales as customers do not like to transact with a business whose website rings the alarm bells.  When discussing such matters with your web developer make sure that you’re getting expert advice from people who know how the industry works and what is truly needed for security. Naturally, the website needs to be hosted securely where server-side protection is maintained in full integrity and is being monitored.

Another important reason why an entrepreneur cannot ignore security in data issues arises from the fact that when an organisation gets compromised, this can be disastrous in terms of reputational damage or possibly lawsuits. The cost of attacks and lost are tremendous.

A full-security approach needs to investigate the different layers of protection at the office ranging from aspects like firewalls, antivirus software to the practical issues of who has access to which data. Internal policies on handling and processing client information are fundamental, especially in organisations where there are bigger teams handling data in one way or another.

If alike many business owners, you neither have the time or full picture of what it takes to have your mind at rest about your clients’ data, the suggested course of action is to bring in a professional security expert who understands both the business and technological constraints and implications.  For example, in the world of online payments, the first step is knowing what it means to be PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliant. The last point to take note of is considering backups, including how quickly you can roll-back to normality following an incident.

There’s no doubt that your customers’ data is most precious for your business and needs protection!  Make sure that you give this the due importance. If you suspect you have a weak link somewhere, a brief chat with one of our team members will be the first step towards a safer future!