7 Best Practices to protect customers' data at your businesses

"Data Privacy Day" is observed annually on Jan. 28 - an international effort to empower individuals and business to respect privacy, safeguard data and enable trust.

Customers expect personalized experience hence business owners always look out to interact with customers and learn more about your customers, their contact details, social profiles, interests/hobbies and accordingly curate offerings for them. The interaction can be through Loyalty program, POS systems, Websites, Guest WiFi hotspot, Feedback forms, and many other tools available both online and offline.

While we do our best to protect customers' data in best possible manner, sometimes we forget to close simple loop-holes in our security mechanisms which makes it easier for cyber criminals to hack your systems and steal your data. This article is about 7 simple best practices to be implemented at all your locations to ensure data protection.

But before this, why should you even worry about protecting the customers' data in first place? Well, you must have read about "Facebook Cambridge Analytica data scandal" and how it has affected the image of Facebook in front of consumers. Imagine, if your customers stop interacting with your brand by knowing that your locations are vulnerable to data-theft. Do hit me back with your response if you don't feel the same.

Read below: "7 Best Practices to protect customers' data at your businesses"

1. Never use common passwords for all systems

It has been found out that several restaurants and chains use common passwords for all of their systems which are vulnerable to hackers. Sometimes these are the default passwords provided by the vendors or they are very simple to crack i.e. password1, 123456. Always use sophisticated and different passwords for systems and keep changing them regularly.

2. Always use licensed software

One of the ways hackers uses to get into your networks is to put some malware into your systems via unauthorized transactions, pirated software, or access to unsecured websites. Hence, it is recommended to use only industry-approved licensed software and keep them updated with latest versions.

3. Conduct regular scans of your network

Hire some expert or opt-in for reputable and professional firewall with auto-scans on regular intervals to identify vulnerability in the system. Also, make sure you keep on checking for latest technologies emerging in firewall domain.

4. Make sure your billing (point-of-sale) system is updated

Several retailers in India are still using old versions of traditional POS systems which can be susceptible to hackers. Do ensure that you use modern POS system which follows best security practices and uses data encryption for credit/debit card transaction records.

5. Secure your WiFi infrastructure

If you are using innovative digital solutions (e.g. digital menu, wireless credit card machine, online ordering/payments, mobile apps to order food/drinks) then make sure you are using a secured wifi hotspot solution to connect them with each other. You must verify each individual logging in to your network either manually or automated authentication tools. You can also opt-in for OTP-based authentication guest wifi hotspot to ensure authentication.

6. Beware of phishing emails/spams

Hackers keep sending phishing emails on official email IDs which might contain harmful malwares. Avoid accessing such emails, always scan attachments for viruses before downloading them on your server.

7. Restrict remote access

Keep the default firewall settings for only essential access and allow third-party-access for third-party-vendors purely based on prior approvals.

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