Why Data Privacy is Good for Business

Tomorrow is International Data Privacy Day! If you didn’t know, International Data Privacy Day is held annually on January 28 to raise awareness and promote data privacy and data protection best practices. Sponsored by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), the website Stay Safe Online offers tips for consumers to stay safe online and to protect their personal information. It’s not just for consumers, as businesses are encouraged to keep consumer data out of hacker’s hands by understanding what and where are the digital assets others want, learning how to protect those assets, detecting when something has gone wrong, and reacting quickly to minimize impact. For Canadian businesses, you can also visit the Office of the Privacy Commissioner Canada site for more details on your rights and obligations under Canadian privacy laws. 

Some history on Data Privacy Day: Data Privacy Day began in the United States and Canada in January 2008 as an extension of the Data Protection Day celebration in Europe. Data Protection Day commemorates the Jan. 28, 1981, signing of Convention 108, the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection. Since then, Data Privacy Day has been observed annually on Jan. 28.

In keeping with the spirit of Data Privacy Day, here are 5 tips for businesses on keeping data out of hacker’s hands. 

  1. Keep your operating system and all software up to date

This is very important, as sometimes the software we use has security vulnerabilities.  Hackers are known for exploiting these vulnerabilities to break into systems. Software companies, like Microsoft, offer regular updates and patches to their software to address these vulnerabilities.  Updating and patching your software on a timely basis will help thwart these types of attacks.

  1. Set strong passwords

The stronger the password, the more difficult it is for someone to guess your log in and steal your data. Even better, using multifactor authentication and biometrics will also help secure your data.

  1. Back up, back up, back up!

For any data you need to keep, you want to ensure you have secure backups.  This way, if you lose are hard drive, or are infected with a virus, you will still have your data available. 

  1. Encrypt your sensitive data

Even more important than the back-ups, you need to ensure your sensitive data in encrypted.  In the event that someone does break in or you are infected with ransomware, this way, the data that is stolen is not able to be accessed by the hacker. If you do have to save any sensitive data to a removable device, that data should also be encrypted, just in case that device is lost or stolen.

  1. Delete/archive data securely

Of course, the less data you keep on customers, the less chance there is that the data can be stolen by a malicious actor.  When deleting data from systems, make sure that it is completely wiped from the device so it can’t be recovered later.  If you do need to archive the data, ensure that it is encrypted prior to storing.