How To Protect Your Customers’ Privacy

While tech has made many things possible that would have seemed impossible just a generation ago, it has also had other impacts which are less obviously beneficial. One such impact has been upon our privacy. Technology has made the world a smaller place, and turned everyone’s phone into a social nexus. This process has been accelerated by the pandemic, as government’s have harnessed the power of technology and social networks to track and manage Covid cases.

As such, we find ourselves in a world where privacy is an increasingly scarce, and increasingly valuable commodity. Entrepreneurs with an eye on the future cannot afford to discount the importance of customer privacy and should act now to protect it and make it central to their businesses.

This is good for your customers, and good for your business and, conversely, privacy breaches can have a significant negative impact.

Data breaches

Data breaches are one of the worst things that can happen to a business. They jeopardize your brand, lose customers, and they can cost millions of dollars to fix. According to a study done by the Digital Guardian, the average data breach costs US companies $8.19 million. Sure, the numbers will differ based on your number of customers, but it’s still a costly affair.

And it’s not just about avoiding costs. When customers entrust you with their data, it’s only fair that you treat it with the most respect and diligence you can.

But how can you do that?

In this article, we’ll explain how to protect your customers’ privacy.

How Is Your Customers’ Privacy In Danger?

When you have an ecommerce store, the personally identifiable data of your customers can be compromised in a lot of ways. One of the most common cyber attacks is the infestation of your server with malware. This type of software can access your database and steal your customers’ data.

This is a clear breach of privacy. Even if the data doesn’t get sold on the dark web, it can be made public, and in turn reveal personal information about your customers, like their IP address, full name, physical address, and a lot of other details.

Another way cybercriminals can jeopardize your customers’ privacy is through phishing campaigns. Take this example of phishing campaigns targeting chrome extension developers. The hackers pretended to be a part of Google’s Chrome extension support team, and sent out emails to numerous extension developers saying there was a problem with their apps. The email also contained a link, which sent unaware developers to a fake Google log-in page. If they entered their credentials there, hackers gained access to their developer account. With that access, they infected the extensions with malware that stole all of the users’ data.

Sure, that specific example dates back to 2017, but phishing campaigns are very much a reality. Cybercrime in general boomed in the aftermath of quarantines all across the globe and social isolation measures.

All of this is to say that if you’re not careful, your customers’ data can be breached.

So what can you do about it?

Start With Your Own Privacy

If you have access to the database of your ecommerce site, you have an individual responsibility towards your customers. Any breach of your privacy or online security can in turn mean a breach in their privacy.

If your login credentials are compromised, they can be used to access your customers’ data. If you fall prey to a phishing campaign, the data you lose becomes a problem for your entire organization. If your PC gets infected with malware, it can affect your site’s server as well.

So if you want to learn how to protect your customers’ privacy, start with your own digital security. You can follow simple steps like:

  • Don’t use the same password for all of your accounts, and try to change passwords regularly. If it’s hard for you to keep track of all credentials, consider using a password manager like LastPass.
  • Employ cybersecurity common sense: don’t click on links from unknown senders, don’t download software from unknown sources, and keep your firewall on at all times.
  • Consider using a VPN. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) will hide your IP, making you browse anonymously. On top, most VPNs encrypt your connection, making it more secure. They also have extra features, like a kill switch in case your connection is compromised.
  • Avoid dubious websites that could endanger your cyber security. For example, any website that offers free access to copyrighted material is bound to attract cyber criminals.

All in all, if you’re as mindful in your digital life as you are in real life, you should be able to avoid breaches in your customers’ privacy more easily.

But it won’t be enough.

Clarify Security Procedures in Your Company

As an owner or manager of an online store, you’re not the only person who can access your site’s backend. Besides the backend of the site, crucial customer data can also be found by breaching social media accounts for example.

That’s why the steps outlined above should be important for your employees as well. Educate them about cybersecurity, and create procedures for staying safe online. If they choose to follow them in their personal life, that’s great, but they should at least abide by the tips we showed above whenever they’re at the office, or working from home.

Install And Update Good Software

First of all, your website (and work devices) should have anti-malware and anti-virus installed. You should also make your best to always update security software as soon as a new version is released. Anti-virus and anti-malware software gets updated to respond to new cyber threats, so if you want to stay protected, and protect your customers’ privacy, you should keep that software running on its latest iteration.

Second, make sure you have an SSL certificate on your site. This will not only enhance your site’s security, but also show Google that you’re trustworthy, which can lead to better results in your SEO and SEM efforts.

Lastly, make sure you only use data processing software with enhanced encryption and security. If you store thousands of email addresses in a vulnerable marketing platform, it might not be your fault when it gets breached. But your customers will be just as dissatisfied.

In Conclusion

Protecting your customers’ data is an extremely important aspect of running a successful online store. Anything else can mean a lot of money and customers lost.

Luckily, as cybercriminals evolve with new technology, so do security measures. Employing safe browsing, encouraging your employees to do the same, and using the best software can help protect the data you store.

This, in turn, ensures a fruitful business relationship with your customers, and maintains your brand at the forefront of your niche.

If you enjoyed this article, please head to my website for further content.

I’m Philip J. Keezer, president and founder of management consulting firm Grindstone Capital. Dedicated to hard work, learning, positivity and accountability.