Every day technology convergence turns more and more of our personal information into bits and bytes thus making it more susceptible to getting lost or stolen. How many of you have been the victim of identity theft or had a credit/debit card cloned? In the past five years, I’ve experienced three such incidents.
- Debit card skimmed at a local restaurant
- Investment data lost on backup tape
- Credit card number cloned from online merchant
As a business owner, we’re entrusted with the personal and financial information of our customers. We have to embrace core values in order to safeguard that data.
First, we have to be proactive. Don’t let your business be the topic of the local news broadcasts. Performing risk assessments can help you to understand where your threats or vulnerabilities are located. Enlist the assistance of your merchant account provider or a security consultant to guide you in this area.
Secondly, your customers trust you. You should respect that trust and do the right thing to safeguard their information. Take inventory of what customer data you maintain and where you store that data. Ask yourself, “do I need to keep a copy?”
Finally, be compliant. Understand what state and local laws are applicable to your line of business. Work closely with your financial institutions so that you understand their particular rules and regulations. Develop your own security policies and train your employees.
If something does go wrong, you need to respond appropriate and quickly. Having a data breach response plan may seem over the top, but do you know how you would react if your laptop or your customer data files were stolen?
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