With the internet boom, a business today can connect with a customer anywhere globally without being limited to physical or geographical borders. But while the internet has brought many opportunities, online business owners need to be aware of the lurking danger of hacking, cybercrime, and data theft.

As a business owner, data security is a vital feature of operating a business effectively as it gives customers and users the guarantee and assurance that their data is being collected, processed, and transferred securely and as safely as possible.

In today’s information age, transactions, communications, knowledge, databases, and infrastructure are arguably a business’s most asset. Data privacy and security are part of the system dealing with an organization’s ability to safely identify the data shared with third parties while keeping the threat of an attack at bay.

Additionally, it helps businesses safeguard the data while decreasing the susceptibilities that hackers and cybercriminals could exploit. Just imagine the valuable data your organization gathers, and these include information like financial or payment data, sensitive personal details and intellectual property of your employees and customers, which the hackers are after.

With cybercrime growing rapidly with each passing day, protecting this sensitive data is more important than ever, and as an online business owner, it is your responsibility to ensure its safety.

Almost all the data you collect from your users and customers is at risk of being targeted by a hacker, cybercriminal or online attacker. Therefore, to prevent this data from getting into the wrong hands of criminals online, businesses need to ensure that they encrypt all the data and information they have. But that is simply the basics; the purpose of this article is to educate you about the importance of customer data protection and data security for businesses of all sizes, from a small startup to a global multinational organization. So let’s see how you can protect and secure your as well as your customer’s data.

Collect only relevant data

When collecting information about your users or customers, make sure to gather only what is important and relevant for your use. Reducing the exterior value of your information helps data security as hackers and cybercriminals are less likely to attack data of lower value. For example, if a hacker wants to gain a list of email addresses, they might not put in much effort and might go for highly valued data. If you have phone numbers, financial details, names, location data, bank details, or other high-value data and information, it is much more susceptible to an attack. The more data points your business collects, the more valuable it becomes and is more likely to be attacked. By just collecting basic and vital information, you increase the consumer’s confidence as well. However, if you are gathering information and data that do not seem crucial or important to the user, they might trust your business less than others.

Do not ignore encryption.

Storing and sharing sensitive data and information can be risky, including social data or personal financial credentials. Many businesses fall prey to hackers and cybercriminals who take advantage of easily accessible login IDs, usernames, and passwords. The best possible way to protect and secure data is by encrypting it. Encryption protects individuals and businesses from the security risks of cyber-fraud.

Having an SSL certificate is one such way of encryption. The main purpose because an SSL certificate is used is to secure sensitive data that is sent over the internet encrypted and scrambled so that only the intended receiver can access it securely. This is vital because the information you send passes from one computer to another device to get to the destination server.

Any computer between you and the server can view the data that might carry sensitive information like financial details, credit card numbers, passwords, and usernames if it is not encrypted. Therefore, it is usually a smart move to buy SSL certificate if you want to encrypt your data. You can purchase premium yet cheap SSL certificates from reliable SSL providers.

Limit who can access data

Data security begins with restrictive internal and external access or, in other words, limiting the people from having access to the information. By preventing and limiting access to data and selecting that you can access it, it means there is a lower number of weak points for your business. Every point of access, essentially wherever somebody materially logs into a data analytics tool, is a weak point. Your business’s data is the most precious asset, and since it is so valuable (as mentioned earlier), there would always be someone with malicious intent to get their hands on it. Threats like cybercriminals, corporate espionage, resentful employees or maybe a simple human mistake. With such risks, it is usually a good call to protect your data by authentication and encryption and restricting access. Having fewer employees and staff who have access to the data also decreases the risk of internal data abuse and breach. The bottom line is, not everybody in your business needs access to the data, so be mindful of who to limit the data to.

Use a password tool to make operations easier.

You can improve your online business’s cybersecurity and decrease the risk of an attack by asking and mandating your employees to use a password management tool. A password management tool encrypts all passwords inside a catalog or a database with a digital key from the user’s main and primary password. The user must type in the master or main password to access the passwords, fill in the key, and unlock the data. Such tools and systems create and save complicated or complex passwords for all of your business’s operational systems and software. People usually don’t use complex passwords as it is basic human nature to forget and can be hard to remember sometimes. With password management tools, this issue is simplified by encrypting and storing every password for every system categorically. This way, if someone needs to log in to a tool or software, they would effortlessly get the login information from the password manager. A good password management tool uses complex and complicated encryption for the credentials and passwords that they save. The encryption scrambles the password to a point where it is unreadable to anyone except those with the encryption key.

Set minimum security standards

The security of your data depends on the tools you use to secure it. If you’re using some software tool that takes care of just some of your data, but the said tool isn’t safe and secure, it means your data is vulnerable to an attack. So it is always advisable to assess the tool’s security standards before investing in it to avoid future inconvenience. If the tool you are using is not secure or does not have the basic security features, your data would not be safe. So make sure to have a minimum standard or a bar when it comes to choosing a tool.

Be vocal about the terms and conditions.

Having procedures and policies in place helps you implement the security measures more clearly. The terms and conditions unambiguously explain what is secured and protected and to what extent. It also dictates the course of action in case of a data breach, attack, etc. Online businesses need to make sure that users are aware and informed of these terms and conditions. Additionally, there also needs to be stringent data protection measures, policies, and procedures internally among the staff and employees.

In conclusion, as an online business owner, it becomes your prime responsibility to ensure the data security of your business and that of your customers and users. The steps mentioned above will guide you in taking the right steps towards securing data when you’re doing business online.