Data breaches continue to become more commonplace, exposing your personal information and exposing businesses’ valuable data.
Data Privacy Day is an internationally recognized day dedicated to creating awareness about the importance of privacy and protecting personal information. Founded by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), it also works to encourage businesses to be more transparent about how they collect, store and use data.
To help consumers and businesses understand what they can do, NCSA has provided a list of tips and advice to help safeguard valuable consumer data. But first, let’s take a look at data privacy and why it is important.
Why should we care about online privacy?
Many of us live our lives on the internet via connected devices – our mobile phones, computers or wearable devices. However, few understand that each time we use our devices, data is being collected and stored. This data can be stored indefinitely, and then be used in both beneficial and unwelcome ways. Even a simple purchase of a cup of coffee at your favorite coffee house can be used to draw conclusions about your socioeconomic status, preferences and more.
Many companies have the ability to collect customers’ personal data and behavior, and then profit by selling the data. Consumers who want to make informed decisions about the use of their personal data should understand how it is being collected and used. Business owners who want to cultivate the trust of their customers should be ready to address consumer concerns regarding their personal data.
What is the difference between privacy and security?
Data security refers to the ways we protect ourselves, our property and personal information. It is the first level of defense against unwanted intruders; for example, using a unique password to protect an online account. For businesses, data security involves compliance with an established industry standard, but more on that at the end of this article.
Data privacy is our ability to control access to our personal information. This involves safeguarding information about yourself and controlling what you allow to be shared.
Advice for consumers: safeguarding your data
Your mobile devices share substantial information about you and your habits. Follow these basic privacy tips to help you better manage your personal information.
- Value and protect your personal information like money. When using apps and website, be mindful about how your information, such as purchase history or location, is shared. Be sure to delete unused apps, keep others updated and review app permissions on a regular basis.
- Share with care. Before you post or share something about yourself and others online, consider what it reveals, who might see it and how it could be perceived now and in the future. Remember that anything posted online is there permanently.
- Own your online presence. This means you should set the privacy and security settings on websites and apps to a level you are comfortable with. Different devices will have different features to limit how and with whom you share information. Review these on a regular basis.
- Think before you act. When using your devices that connect to the internet, consider what information about you is being collected though websites and apps. All this information – such as the games you like to play, your contact list, your online purchases and your geographic location – is tremendously valuable.
Advice for organizations: Privacy is good for business
People like to do business with those they trust and protecting your customers’ privacy is a competitive advantage. Below are some tips for inspiring trust and enhancing your company’s reputation while respecting consumers’ privacy.
- Privacy is everyone’s business: If you collect it, protect it. Establish and follow security measures to keep your customers’ personal information safe from unauthorized use or access. Train employees to know and understand these security measures.
- Transparency builds trust. Be open and honest with customers about how you collect, use and share their personal information. Consider how the consumer may expect their data to be used and protect their information by default.
- Build trust by doing what you say you will do. Communicate to the public what privacy means to your organization and the steps you take to achieve it.
- Be proactive by maintaining oversight of partners and vendors. If another entity provides services on your behalf, you are also responsible for how they collect and use your customers’ personal information.
The safeguarding of customer purchase data, specifically credit card information, is of paramount concern. This area of data privacy and security is governed by the Payment Card Industry Data Standards (PCI DSS). PCI DSS refers to the technical and operational standards businesses must follow to ensure credit card data provided by cardholders is protected. Merchants of all sizes that accept credit cards must be in compliance with PCI standards.
All merchants who process credit card payments with Client Solutions Group automatically receive $100,000 of data breach coverage. Businesses needing assistance with PCI DSS compliance or processing credit card payments may contact Client Solutions Group at 716-785-6006.