Guide to Protect Your Customers’ Data from Identity Thieves and Hackers

Whether from a server breach, stolen laptop, or careless paper document disposal, a consumer data breach can result in a sudden turn of events for a small company. Not only are there quantifiable costs of a customer data breach, but there are less tangible costs as well — namely, a tarnishing of your brand.
Want to have some ammunition to stave off potential hackers? Take note of the following guide to protect your customers’ data from identity thieves and hackers.

1) Use a business-class router. A router will help protect your company’s Internet connection, and will contain a built-in firewall. Of course, installing, using, and regularly updating an anti-virus software program is a given.
2) Get help from a network security network. If you don’t have a knowledgeable network security IT professional on staff, look into obtaining the services of a network security or consulting firm to help you in this important risk area.

3) Use a dedicated server.
With the economy still struggling, it’s easy to want to cut corners to save money. While it’s okay to cut corners in some areas of your business, such as turning down the air conditioning, it’s not advised in others. Using a shared server opens up more vulnerability to your customers’ sensitive data/

4) Shred sensitive customer documents.
Businesses that possess customer information are required to properly dispose of this information, according to the Fair and Accurate Credit (FACTA) Disposal Rule. Invest in a good paper shredder, and use it.

5) Use an electronics wiping program.
The FACTA rules don’t just apply to paper documents. Electronic customer information stored on electronic media, such as hard drives, CDs, thumb drives, and DVDs are also covered under the guidelines. Therefore, make sure these devices are properly disposed of, and use a wiping program to remove sensitive customer data before discarding, selling, or donating old computer equipment.
In the event that your small business is subject to a customer data breach, make sure you have a data breach plan in place beforehand. A solid data breach plan involves employing resources to identify and isolate the problem, notifying affected customers, and employing an IT security expert to render an immediate fix to the breach. Quick action on the part of the small business owner can minimize customer detrimental repercussions, litigation ramifications, and damage to your company’s reputation.