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5 Data Privacy Tips for Growing Businesses

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For companies big and small, data privacy and security is a top priority. And for good reason… there’s a big price tag to those who fail to keep up with data privacy regulations.

And that big price tag is especially devastating for growing businesses. In fact, just because you’re small, doesn’t mean you can avoid data security. One study actually found that 60% of companies that suffer a data breach are forced into bankruptcy within six months.

That’s a big number. To keep your company from becoming a part of that figure, here are a few tips that will help your small business remain compliant, avoid a breach, and stay ahead.

Register for the Webinar: Why Growing Businesses Need a Privacy Program (and How to Get Buy-In) on May 28, 2020 at 1pm ET/10am PT

1. Make Privacy Your Brand

The truth is, people do business with people they like and trust. Do consumers or potential customers trust you? 79% of people say they’re somewhat concerned about how companies are using their personal data. And it’s impacting who they spend their money with. In fact, 48% of consumers have already switched companies because of their data sharing policies.

To avoid losing half your customer base, let customers know first and foremost that protecting their personal data is important to your small business. You can do this in numerous ways:

  • Add it to your business’s core values.
  • Add it to your mission statement.
  • Be transparent about how your business uses personal data.
  • Practice what you preach: Actually protect their data!

Train your employees, provide simple written guidelines and reminders, and require them to sign an agreement to follow your company’s privacy and security standards. And because you can never be too safe, have a privacy contract your employees can reference and can go to with questions.

2. Protect Yourself

Data privacy, while mostly about consumers, is also about protecting your business. Just because you’re a small business doesn’t mean you’re immune to cyber attacks. In fact, in 2018 67% of small businesses were attacked by cybercriminals, and that number has only increased since then.

Luckily, there are data security practices you can implement to reduce the risk of your small business becoming the victim of a cyberattack:

  • Use SSL encryption to transmit sensitive data
  • Use a reputable PCI provider to process credit cards
  • Avoid collecting Social Security Numbers for personal identification. If you can’t avoid it, store and transfer this data securely.
  • Require strong passwords and don’t allow password sharing.
  • Never send personal data via email.
  • Data privacy goes beyond digital. If anything is printed, keep it secure and locked up.
  • Only keep data as long as you need it. When you no longer need it, dispose of it properly.

3. Keep Track of the Data You Collect

If you aren’t sure if your small business technically collects personal data, answer these three questions:

  1. Are you collecting data that can be linked to an individual?
  2. Are you collecting data that can be linked to a specific computer?
  3. Are you collecting data that can be linked to a specific device?

If you answered “yes” to any of these three questions, your small business is collecting personal data. As such, it’s important to pay attention to how you store and share sensitive data such as social security numbers, credit card numbers, and location data. Do an audit by answering these questions:

  • How does your small business currently collect data? (email, online form, etc.)
  • Where do you store data? (PCs, network, file cabinet, etc.)
  • Who has direct access to customer data? (all employees, select employees, vendors, contractors, etc.)
  • With whom do you share customer data? (marketers, advertisers, business partners, etc.)

The best way to avoid issues is to collect as little data as possible. Review your online forms and database software. If there you find your small business is asking for data that isn’t necessary for business operations, eliminate it.

4. Respond to Customer and Regulator Requests

In order to be compliant, you must also be transparent. That means whenever a customer or a regulator asks for audit requests, you respond promptly. Regulations such as GDPR mandate subject access requests be responded to within 30 days and breach notifications within 72 hours. And failure to comply isn’t cheap, so small businesses can’t afford to turn a blind eye.

To avoid any issues, it’s important to define and automate your business processes to turnover fast and accurate requests from customers, regulators, and auditors.

5. Know Your Resources

Data security can seem overwhelming for anyone, let alone a small business. But the only way you’ll learn is by jumping right in. Here are a few helpful resources that will teach you the ins and outs of SMB privacy and security compliance in no time:

Federal Trade Commission

FTA’s main priority is to protect consumers. To achieve this mission, it has a robust resource library devoted to data security. It covers everything from websites to mobile apps to IoT.

The Small Business Administration

One reason mid-market businesses need to be up to speed on data privacy? It’s the law. And not complying isn’t a line worth crossing. From paperwork to taxes, the SBA offers great advice about how your small business can take the first steps toward compliance.

The American Bar Association

Every state has different security laws and confidential information requirements.

A great resource for learning the state legalities of data privacy is the American Bar Association.

OneTrust Pro

If these resources don’t quite help you, there’s always our resources. From consumer privacy news and updates, state regulations, and tips and tricks for your small business, we’ve always got you covered.

Old Faithful

And if nothing else, we know we can always rely on a search engine. After all, everything you need to know is always a quick “data privacy for my small business” Google search away.

Conclusion: Just Start

We know. Data privacy isn’t the most exciting business objective to tackle. But it’s one of the most important. And burying your head in the sand will only get you in trouble and risk your business longevity.

Get ahead of it by becoming proactive about protecting your consumer data.

If you need a little help, that’s okay, too. To learn more about complying with data privacy laws, reach out to OneTrust Pro today to request a demo or watch a demo now.

Register for the Webinar: Why Growing Businesses Need a Privacy Program (and How to Get Buy-In) on May 28, 2020 at 1pm ET/10am PT

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