In recent times, marketing firms have become a target for malicious hackers because of the wealth of personal information they collect from their customers. Information such as customer names, addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers, and social security numbers are some of the information routinely collected by these firms. This data is used to generate mailing lists and for targeted marketing.
To prevent your firm from being a victim of a data breach or a malicious hack, it is necessary to take measures to safeguard your data. Recently, the marketing firm, Exactis unknowingly leaked their personal information database containing 340 million records online thereby putting their 218 million customers at risk. Discussed below are five ways that you can keep your client data secure from exploitation.
1) Data audit
Your customers' data is the lifeblood of your marketing firm. This customer database is manipulated on a daily basis; new customers are added, old ones are removed while others are updated. With this database being managed by multiple users, it is critical to ensure that the integrity of the database is preserved. A data audit inspects the database to ensure that it is secure. During an audit, some questions that need to be answered include:
- What are the sources of the data collected?
- How long are each customer's data kept?
- What data is collected?
- How is the data kept secure?
- Who has access to the data?
2) Multi-factor authentication (MFA)
Multi-factor factor authentication is the use of more than one method to validate the identity of an individual before granting access to a site or database. Typically, the individual types in a password to request access; a code is then generated on a secondary device such as a smartphone which then has to be entered to confirm the user's identity. Entry of the code then permits the individual access to the data.
Multi-factor authentication is necessary because if that an individual's password is stolen or compromised, the data is still safe because the would-be hacker does not possess the secondary device needed to obtain the secondary code.
3) Secure storage
There are several options available to store your customers' information. The information can be stored locally in a physical network infrastructure maintained by your IT department. An alternative storage choice may be the cloud whereby a third party is responsible for the maintenance and security of the data. Whatever storage choice is made, it is important to ensure that it is kept secure. The security of the storage should be checked on a regular basis to ensure there are no vulnerabilities.
4) Access control
The more people with access to your customer database, the higher the risk of its compromise. Access control regulates who has access to your database and what they can do. Not everyone should have access to your database; access should only be granted to those who need it to perform their job.
Also, the type of access granted should be based on the individual's role. Some people may need read-only access; these people can see the information but do not have the permissions to update the data. Other people may have read and write access; they can access the information and may make any necessary updates to the database.
5) Data encryption
Data encryption translates your customers' data into a form that cannot be read as long as it is being transferred from through various electronic means such as email. This ensures that the information is still secure even if the database is compromised or if it is hijacked during data transmission. Besides, the devices used to access the data should be encrypted as much as possible; this is especially important if mobile devices obtain the data.
Keeping your client data secure is important to the success of your business. Failure to secure this information can lead to a loss of trust and an unwillingness of customers to share their personal information with your company.
At Total Computer Solutions, we are experts at ensuring that your business has the best possible data protection. We will do a thorough analysis and develop a uniquely tailored data protection plan suited to your business. Contact us today for more information.