What Small Businesses Should Know About Consumers’ Privacy

Consumer privacy is a hot button topic. People are often reluctant to share personal details because they’ve had their data compromised in the past. Even large corporations are subject to hackers. Small businesses need to take steps to keep sensitive information secure.

Do Businesses Need to Be Concerned About Privacy?

If you collect any data from your customers at all, privacy is something you must consider. Consumers take many measures to protect personal information. Statista reported around 29% change default privacy settings on their devices but another 29% do nothing to secure their data. 

It’s your responsibility as a business owner to protect the information in your databases. What do you need to know about consumer privacy and your obligation to clients?

1. Avoid Fines

If some of your customers live in European Union countries, your company should be subject to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) act. In a nutshell, the GDPR states you must protect consumer information. You must include a policy for how and when you use any data collected. You should also take common sense steps to protect your site and databases from hackers. 

2. Kick Cookies to the Curb

Consumers’ rising expectations for personal data usage has encouraged large corporations such as Google to change the way they handle data. Google announced they’ll get rid of third-party cookies in 2023. 

If you still use cookies to track visitor actions, it’s time to find new ways to gather analytical data. Cookies are on their way out. Many users resent them and the key players in online big data are moving away from the concept. 

3. Train Employees

A little extra training about how to avoid phishing scams or not give out information to just anyone goes a long way toward reassuring customers you won’t hand out personal data. 

Think about the last time you phoned your cell phone service provider. You likely had to offer your full name, address and perhaps a pin number to gain help with your account or make any changes. Such safeguards protect your customers’ privacy. 

4. Protect Your Website

Take steps to protect your website, especially if you offer logins for your customers and there is any personal data saved to their accounts. For example, you might add secure socket layers to ensure keystrokes aren’t opened up to anyone who wants them. 

You should install a firewall and security plugins. Researchers at Google found about 52% of people use the same password on numerous sites. Encourage your users to use something unique and frequently update their passwords. 

5. Invest in the Right Tools

The right tools can keep your business’ data safe. Make sure you install antivirus software on all your computers. Do regular scans and update any software when new patches become available.

If much of your work is information based, you may find you keep details in the cloud. Investing in a third-party cloud computing service may be the key to growing your business. Make sure any company you work with makes security a top concern. 

6. Create Backups

People may be reluctant to share information the first time. If you were to have a breach or a crash, they’re less likely to give you details again. Make sure you keep backups of your database. 

First, if you get hacked, you can restore your details without asking customers for more info. Second, if your system crashes, you won’t lose everything but can restore it quickly. 

Make a Plan for Catastrophe

At some point in the life of your company, you may face a breach. Perhaps a disgruntled former employee steals customer data or maybe a hacker gains access to personal details. Whatever the situation, if you have a plan in place for how to deal with a catastrophe, you’ll come across as more professional. Your customers will continue to trust you with their sensitive info.