Businesses today often hold vast amounts of data about their customers and most businesses are finally waking up to the importance of being responsible custodians of that data. Your customers should be able to trust you with their most private data, within reason, of course, and should feel confident that when they give data to you, it is only going to be accessed when absolutely necessary.
Keeping your customers’ data safe isn’t just a case of ensuring that it is safe online. You will also need to secure the physical storage devices that hold all that valuable data. Data can be recovered from a lost hard drive, so it is vital that you securely erase them before you dispose of them.
But what do you do if you mislay one of these storage devices? Or what if you come across one that you don’t know the origin of? How do you ascertain whether it is safe for disposal or not?
Prevention is the Best Cure
The best thing you can do is to avoid losing customer data in the first place. Make sure that you have backups of all your data and that all of your physical storage devices are clearly labeled. This will ensure that any errant hard drives can be quickly identified, as can the files that they are expected to contain.
You should only allow those who need to be able to access data to do so. Other than your cybersecurity team, who should be responsible for local storage devices, data should only be available where it is needed. This reduces the amount of data that will go missing.
If Data is Lost
If the data is lost as in it has become unavailable, but the physical device it is stored on is perfectly fine, you may well be able to recover the data. Data recovery is pretty sophisticated today and you can usually recover data from a hard drive if you find yourself suddenly unable to access it. If you want advanced data recovery services, look for a business that offers data recovery cleanroom certification to demonstrate high standards.
When you lose a physical storage drive or confirm that the data on a hard drive has been irretrievably lost, you will need to inform your customers as soon as possible. It is important to be able to tell them exactly what data has been lost or compromised.
If Data is Stolen
If your customers’ data is stolen by criminals, then you need to inform them of the breach as soon as possible. If you store significant amounts of customer data, it’s important to know when you need to inform the authorities about a data breach in the USA. If you need to go public about a breach, you should do so as soon as possible.
When you believe that data has been leaked by someone within your organization or someone might have removed copies of sensitive data from the workplace, you might want to consider hiring someone with experience in investigating corporate leaks to locate the source. Remember, there are people out there willing to pay a lot of money for the right information and data. You can minimize the chances of anything being squirreled away and smuggled off-site by ensuring that you restrict access to data to those with a genuine need for it.
If you expect your customers to trust you with their data, you need to show that you are a worthy custodian. This means that you should have procedures and policies in place to keep data safe, and to respond to any losses or security breaches that compromise customer data.