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How to protect Customer Data Privacy?

National Data Privacy Day (January 28) stems from a similar celebration in Europe that started in January 1981. The U.S. recognition day began in 2008 to spread awareness of data privacy. In today’s digital environment where breaches are a reality, proper storage of customer’s private data has become paramount. In fact, while choosing a Customer Data Platform, buyers give great importance to data privacy as a key factor. The businesses need to understand the following key 4 factors. 

  • Customer data is a business asset and companies spend billions of dollars to protect it.
  • Sources of confidential information in a company include employees, documentation, technical media, products.
  • Leak channels can include technical means, human factors, and organizational aspects of a company’s operations.
  • Some measures and principles are important to keep in mind when protecting customer data privacy.

Regardless of whether a company belongs to large, small, or medium-sized businesses, whether it is an established organization or a startup, the issue of customer data privacy is relevant to everyone. This article is devoted to the features and means of customer data privacy, as well as recommendations that will help simplify this work and make it more efficient.

Who Ensures Customer Data Privacy?

The field of data protection is legally regulated by information law, the norms of which are stipulated in several legislative acts. There are many ways to enhance data privacy in these cases, but one of the best methods is the consistent use of a VPN. Additionally, a VPN encrypts all traffic so that even email, file transfers via File Transfer Protocol (FTP) and remote communications using Telnet will show up as gobbledygook to malicious actors. The implementation of measures for customer data protection is the responsibility of the data controller that collects and processes the data. If the company fails to comply with the protection measures, it bears statutory liability.

When processing occurs using information systems (electronic devices), there are new potential threats that need to be minimized or eliminated.

A threat to customer data is considered a possible impact on an automated processing system from inside or outside, which entails any negative consequences for the subjects of this information. Typically, information systems become particularly vulnerable when:

  • The company’s software is imperfect, has not been updated in a long time, and contains vulnerabilities.
  • Some system processes are not fully operational.
  • Conditions of exploitation and storage of information have become complicated.

Threats are usually divided into several groups (the classification is based on the nature of the threat):

Objective

It depends directly on whether the storage and processing equipment is properly selected, whether the security software works properly. Typical problems:

  • Faulty hardware.
  • Weak anti-viruses, lack of security gateways.
  • Inability to visually monitor servers and access them.

Accidental

This group includes unforeseen circumstances, various emergencies, and system failures. In this case, it is important to be ready to promptly eliminate them (any malfunction of technical means at all possible levels of the system, including obsolescence and wear of individual chips, data carriers, linear connections, failure of antivirus, service, and application programs).

Subjective

As a rule, such threats are incorrect actions of the employees that perform technical processing, storage, and data protection. They may fail to adhere to security rules and allow leaks during software loading or active use of the system. This group also includes misconduct by former employees who still have unauthorized access to data.

Company specialists take into account all types of threats. They take into account the next criteria to understand the real possibility of a threat.

Accessibility

This criterion demonstrates how easy it is for an attacker to gain access to the information or to the organization’s infrastructure where the data is stored.

Fatality

This characteristic involves assessing the depth of the threat’s impact on the overall functioning of the system and the ability of the company’s dedicated personnel to cope with the consequences of that impact.

Quantity

This parameter implies estimating the amount of potentially vulnerable parts of the data storage and processing system.

The exact calculation of the probability of a particular threat impact is done mathematically – this is done by the company’s analytical experts. Such self-analysis allows them to objectively assess risks and take additional protective measures: purchase better equipment, conduct additional training for employees, redistribute access rights, etc.

Customer Data Protection Levels Classification

Level 4

At this level, unauthorized persons are excluded from the premises where information equipment is located. Ensuring data carriers’ security, approval of a clear list of employees who have access to data processing, and use of special means of information protection.

Level 3

This level implies meeting all requirements stipulated for the previous level and appointing an officer responsible for information security.

Level 2

This level includes restriction of access to the electronic security log.

Level 1 

Besides all the requirements above, it also includes the provision of automatic registration in the electronic security log as well as the assignment of responsibility for information security to the specially created subdivision.

The proper implementation of legally prescribed customer data protection measures in accordance with the levels ensures the maximum effectiveness of the overall information security strategy adopted by the company.

Customer Data Security Tools

So, to protect customer data privacy companies:

  1. Limit and protect the information they collect on customers.
  2. Use state-of-the-art encryption methods.
  3. Focus on building trust for the long term.
  4. Are transparent regarding data privacy.
  5. Train employees regarding data privacy.
  6. Update data protection programs as instructed.

A detailed list of technical and organizational security measures is also legally defined. These include the procedure of identification/authentication of access subjects and objects, the access control chain, restriction of the software environment, antivirus protection, prevention and detection of intrusions, analysis of the environment protection degree, along with ensuring data availability and detection of events that would potentially lead to system malfunction. In addition, the law obliges to develop other, compensating measures to neutralize threats in case of technical impossibility to implement any measures.

Cryptography in Information Protection

One of the most effective ways to protect personal data is the use of cryptographic means. To simplify, we are talking about encrypting text using digital code.

Cryptographic means include hardware, software, and combined devices and complexes capable of implementing algorithms of cryptographic transformation of information.

They are intended to simultaneously protect information during transmission via communication channels and protect it from unauthorized access during processing and storage. The logic is simple: an intruder who does not know the code will not be able to use the data, even if he or she gets access to it, because he or she will not read it. To them, it will remain a meaningless set of numbers.

Conclusion: Recommendations on Customer Data Privacy Protection

Information security needs specific focus within the company as customers trust companies with their data. It is also necessary from a compliance and statutory perspective. Companies need to set up the systems, processes and people in place to ensure that data is protected. Use of software and technology greatly helps. More importantly, security is a specialized domain expertise and companies can hire external experts to bring in the best practices.

Institutionalizing security as a practice with the company requires management sponsorship and a great deal of involvement and collaboration from the management of the company and all of its employees. Poor implementation of security policies and lack of diligence in complying with protection policies can result in data theft, hefty fines, litigation, and reputational damage.

Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of your security measures, make quick adjustments, and keep abreast of changes in the law. Preventing a threat is many times easier (and cheaper) than dealing with its consequences.

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