6 Tips For Protecting Customer Data Online

Protecting data should be at the forefront of every business’s agenda, no matter its size. Loss of data can lead to financial losses and be damaging to both you and the customer. Cybersecurity is rarely out of the news nowadays, and there have been some high-profile hacks, but a few straightforward precautions will help you maintain safety.


#1 Start with your network

Securing your IT network should be your first priority. A secure network makes for securer data transfers almost by default.


There are lots of ways to go about this. Start by ensuring that every computer on the network is fully up to date. The latest software updates contain the latest security patches, so this is essential. Ensure that passwords are set to expire at least every three months and that employees only choose secure replacements.


You might even segregate the network using a VLAN. Firewalls and hosting protocols should be kept up to date too. Always make sure that automatic updates are turned on so that you don’t miss new patches.


#2 Adopt website security protocols

After the IT network, your website represents the biggest vulnerability. If you aren’t already, apply SSL certification to your site. This protects against hackers interrupting data transfers between the website and the customer, adding an additional layer of data protection.


Next, use HTTPS rather than just HTTP. The additional “s” stands for “secure” and means that transferred data is always encrypted. These protocols are essential if your website handles any data like credit card details. Customers and clients will look for them when they sign up and will be reluctant to proceed if protection is lacking. The padlock symbol that appears next to a website using HTTPS is now a common sight and something you should adopt if you haven’t already.


#3 Use a secure deal room

Complex deals often involve a great deal of back and forth between business and client. This inevitably means an ongoing exchange of sensitive and private information, which makes for fertile ground for hackers.


Instead of conducting these exchanges over email or via the cloud, use a secure deal room to safeguard both you and your clients. These are fully protected behind extensive, cyber-secure infrastructure, and they’re more convenient than exchanging information via email or an insecure shared cloud storage platform such as Dropbox or Google Drive. Having documents, contracts, and terms in one secure place makes for a much more streamlined transaction.


#4 Beware of email attachments

The most common route into an IT network is via email, usually through a nefarious attachment. Make your employees aware of the threat and let them know that they should never open any attachments from unfamiliar addresses. Once malware finds its way onto one system, it doesn’t take long for it to infiltrate the whole network. Malware can then harvest data, sending it to a third party. Passwords and other security protocols may also be compromised, so employees should always be aware of the threats that rogue email attachments pose.


#5 Enable network encryption

Any and all routers come with the option to turn on network encryption. Nowhere is this more important than in a business setting. Fully encrypted data is nearly impossible to crack, and hackers will find it much more difficult to steal details that have been secured in this manner.


There are lots of different types of encryption available, but WPA2 is the most common and is generally very secure. If you want to be even more secure, you can implement WPA3 network encryption which was designed with the latest cyber threats in mind. Encryption can usually be enabled at the press of a button, but it’s a game-changer for data protection.


#6 Use a VPN

Most of the big web security firms like Norton offer VPNs in various forms. VPNs might be considered an additional layer of protection after a firewall. They allow you to access your network through a heavily encrypted tunnel that hides your identity, location, and any personal details that you share. This prevents hackers from spying on your activities, and it conceals exchanged data, too.


VPNs have always been useful security tools, but as more people work from home, they’re becoming essential. Remote work programs vulnerabilities into the network by spreading it out (and most home computers won’t have anywhere near the same level of security as their office equivalents), but VPNs can prevent data interception.