Every client, customer, employee and contractor that comes into contact with your business brings a wealth of personally identifiable information (PII): their sensitive data. It's your responsibility as a company to safeguard that sensitive data in compliance with local and global regulations.
In the wake of a lot of high-profile data privacy issues, and with evidence that data breaches cost on average almost $4 million per business, there's a white-hot spotlight on data protection and how businesses are handling, processing, storing and disposing of sensitive data. IBM found that each individual data record that's compromised costs your company $148 in lost revenue and reputational damage; your business can't afford to ignore the importance of data protection.
Data security for business is the way your organization handles the sensitive data that passes through every day. From customer credit card details to employee home addresses and beyond, you'll be trusted to safeguard and protect this data against a breach, meeting data privacy laws and regulations. There are different types of data security regulations at regional, national and global levels that you simply have to comply with, or face steep fines.
What does it mean to be compliant? It means putting workflows and policies in place that outline how data protection is achieved at your business in line with the laws that govern the areas you operate in.
Your organization has to have data security to build a trusting relationship with clients and customers around the world. With all the business that's conducted online today, your customers have to be confident that their sensitive information is totally protected to the best of your ability. Complying with local regulations is really just the beginning for data protection: you should be doing every single thing you can to keep information secure.
To be compliant with data security regulations you'll need to take a close look at the types of sensitive data you're collecting and how it's currently being handled. In line with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), your business will need to implement a series of data management systems that provide protection at the data level, known as information security management systems (ISMS). An ISMS is defined by the ISO as 'a systematic approach to managing sensitive company information so that it remains secure. It includes people, processes and IT systems by applying a risk management process.'
In particular, ISO 27001 is the most widely recognized data security standard for businesses. Being compliant with ISO 27001 will put your customers' minds at ease knowing you have been certified as a safe business to trade with.
Don't trip up and think your organization only has to comply with data protection regulations in your local area. You need to think outside the box - compliance is a must-have in all the territories you sell to and operate in.
For instance, there are a lot of data privacy laws in action across the USA alone, and different states have different laws. If you're selling across state lines you'll need to be compliant with the strictest regulation across all territories. Of course, securing the personal data of your customers should be a top priority anyway, so best business practice is to comply with the most stringent laws.
If you do business in Europe, here are four letters you've probably heard way too much for your liking: GDPR. The General Data Protection Regulation governs how data is protected in the European Union. If you trade with Europe or process any data of EU citizens, you need to get up close and personal with the GDPR to avoid major fines for infringement. Check out this guide to the GDPR to make sure you're covered in Europe.
You want your customers to trust your business. It takes blood, sweat and tears to build a relationship with them - respect their right to privacy and data protection or your business will suffer.