7 Essential Data Protection Tips to Keep Your Information Safe

Safety & Security

7 Essential Data Protection Tips to Keep Your Information Safe

In an ultra-connected, always-on world where vast amounts of personal data are handled daily, it is imperative that those providing that data can feel reassured that it will not get into the wrong hands. With risks ranging from phishing attacks on financial institutions to ransomware threats to cloud-based services, data protection has never been more important than it is today. This is even more the case since the introduction of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, usually known as GDPR. Here are some key data protection tips to keep your information secure.

1. Use strong encryption

The days are long gone when strong encryption was only needed for the most sensitive data. Now, it should be standard practice for any kind of personal information. Make sure that both at-rest data, such as that stored on physical servers, and in-transit data, including information transmitted to and from cloud services, are covered. Among the most crucial data protection tips is to look for an algorithm such as Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) that offers at least 128-bit encryption; 256-bit encryption may be appropriate for very sensitive data. Using HTTPS web connections adds a useful extra layer of security.

2. Prioritise staff training

Even one weak link in a chain can make it vulnerable, so investment in your staff is vital. All managers and other employees need to know what’s expected of them in any particular situation, and how to practise good data security as a matter of course. Emphasise the need for discretion in communications, never including personal details in emails unless this can be fully justified. Ensure that staff access to systems containing personal data is limited to areas directly related to their professional activities, and underline the importance of recognising false requests for information.

3. Minimise data use

In terms of both data capture and data consumption, use only that personal information which is necessary. Profiling for marketing use may be unavoidable, but best-practice data protection tips include remembering that it may be just as effective when psuedonymised. Certain fields, such as people’s titles, are often not needed at all. When it comes to consumption, only request data from customers that is needed – if someone simply needs to be over 18 to access a certain service, that’s all that matters. There is no need to ask whether they’re 32 or 33, or what level of educational study they attained.

4. Store data no longer than necessary

Holding onto personal data you don’t actually need is poor practice and may in some cases fall foul of legislation like the UK Data Protection Act or the more recent GDPR. Also, bear in mind that much personal information evolves and changes as time goes on – home addresses and mobile phone numbers, for example. Among the data protection tips that is often forgotten is to limit the time data can be stored before asking customers to re-confirm and update details as well as reassuring them that they remain in control of how their data is used. Strengthening trust with customers also makes them more likely to choose you in the future.

5. Ensure crisis resilience

While nobody likes to think about the possibility of a major disaster striking the business, there are many ways this can happen, ranging from flooding to fires. Consider how you would deal with such a crisis, and how to avoid crucial data being lost in such circumstances. Under the Data Protection Act, you must have adequate safeguards in place to guard against loss from accidental damage. Digital documents stored on a secure cloud server can be easily and swiftly restored once the company is up and running again.

6. Manage passwords properly

Without strong password protection, you may as well be leaving the door of your virtual office open to anyone who wants to walk in, and this forms another of the most crucial data protection tips. Effective password policies are critical for every business. Ensure that passwords are required to be changed regularly, such as every 90 days, and that old passwords cannot be reused. Guard against staff falling back on insecure options such as basing their passwords on their names, company positions or other easy-to-guess terms. Audit password changes to allow you to keep track of when they change – this will also help to solve password security breaches.

7. Invest in a visitor management solution

Keeping your visitors safe and secure becomes simpler and more straightforward with an effective and coherent visitor management solution. This makes sure that your organisation is resistant to unauthorised intrusions, whether as a result of industrial espionage, drive-by attacks or opportunistic data theft. This tip for protecting your data also brings benefits for genuine visitors in making them feel welcomed and their needs understood. For class-leading visitor management with outstanding tracking and ID management capabilities, invest in a solution from VisiPoint.