If you run a business that uses the internet heavily (and if you run a successful business then this is likely the case), then you will likely be dealing with sensitive customer data. You will likely have to take at least some of that data on the road with you if you aren’t acquiring it at events, conferences, and other gatherings. It can take many forms, from simple contact info to heavy and complex financial data.
It is absolutely vital that you keep all of this data safe because the reputation of your business, especially if you are working for a small business, will fall. If you are a low-level employee at any of these businesses, then you will certainly get fired should anything happen to customer data. There is absolutely no benefit to cutting corners when it comes to data security, and outside of the office is where it is most vulnerable.
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How to Protect Your Customer’s Data When Working Remotely?
You should make sure to take these precautions when you are dealing with important data outside of the workplace (and perhaps inside the workplace):
Know Basic Internet Security
Without going into too much detail, you should make sure that you are taking the security precautions you read on every memo and online resource available and that you double your efforts to make these habits when you aren’t at the office. You should make sure to use a strong password, have a great security program installed on whatever devices need it. Use the internet safely and not download risky files, and update any programs when necessary.
What is acceptable for you on your personal device might not be acceptable for a device related to your business. You don’t want to slip up and cost your business big because you couldn’t wait to check something trivial until you got home. If you’re out on business, assume it is no different than you being at work.
This is an essential part to protect your data as well as your customer’s.
Be Cautious Who You Deal With
Unfortunately, not everyone you will be dealing with will be looking to work with you. Some potential partners you meet online might just be trying to scam you out of money or customer data they can use to make money at your expense. This gives rise to data leakage. This is especially true when you are outside of the office because you often don’t have the framework necessary to protect yourself. So, data leakage can also be an issue for you.
When at all possible, try to use your computer when handling customer data so that you don’t accidentally hand it over to someone who will put it at risk (whether they mean to or not). You have no idea what might be on their computer, and you don’t want to fall victim to the rare corporate spy looking to gain access to your data to work it against your company.
There is also something to be said for keeping internal security high as well. Don’t allow anyone access to sensitive data that doesn’t absolutely need it. That way there are only so many different places where a leak can occur. Have a high level of cloud security because a lot of people don’t understand how it works yet and might accidentally share something with the world. This is the main part to avoid any type of data breaches.
Use a VPN
If you find you or your employees are going to be working outside of the office often, then it is absolutely vital that you invest in a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service that you can use while on the go. What a VPN will do is connect your device to a secure offsite server which will mask your IP and allow you to look as though you’re browsing from somewhere else (which is great for business if you are in more restrictive countries. Most importantly, the connection is encrypted so that you are completely safe from onlookers and hackers who would love to steal your customer’s or client’s information.
Imagine that you are at a business meeting at a café, and you have some presentations or other data that you wish to show your client or potential client. You might not be able to explain to them easily that public networks, such as those you find at restaurants, are often ridden with hackers and would put your data at risk. Now you either have to risk vital customer data or risk losing the client.
There are quite a few out there, but any legitimate VPN is better than no VPN. You will want to particularly want one that has a lot of different servers, doesn’t slow you down any (the cheaper ones can do that), and has a strong reputation for security and confidentiality.
Check Company Guidelines
If you do not know what the company guidelines regarding data security are, then you should check. If you don’t know if there are any, then you should go ahead and suggest some. If you are in the position to make some, then you should do so before there is a massive security breach causing problems you might not be able to recover from.
It would be best to make sure that everything you are doing follows these guidelines, so even if there are problems, you have some ground to stand on. You should not be satisfied with this though because any policies your company has could very well be obsolete. If you find them as such you should recommend any changes you think would be helpful to the company or otherwise make those changes yourself.
Photo source: Pixabay.com
Thank you for reading, and I hope that you will keep any data belonging to your customers as safe as you would your own.
This is a guest post by Caroline. She is a technology enthusiast and internet security guru. She enjoys writing and sharing her internet security knowledge whenever possible. She recommends Securethoughts.com as the best possible source for all your internet security needs.