Data security is a challenge for all businesses these days, including staffing agencies. Many high-profile data breaches have occurred in the past few years, including at executive search firm Korn Ferry and Texas-based agency Snelling Staffing. These breaches demonstrate why keeping customer data secure is so important.
How Do You Protect Your Customer Data?
Stop and think how you are handling your customer data right now. Is it how you would want your company and personal data stored? If not, then you need to consider how you would want it stored. Here are seven ways you can protect your customer data from a security breach:
- Know what information you need to protect. You need to review what information you hold, gather, transmit and share. This will tell you what you need to protect and what measures you need to take. Your HR, IT, and the security department can help you get started. Every bit of data should be mapped and secured.
- Create a written security plan. A well-defined cyber security plan tells everyone how to approach data within your organization. The plan needs to identify what steps are required for data security and who is responsible for what. The plan needs to define the steps to take if a data breach every occurs. Some things to ensure the plan covers includes firewalls, malware protection, social media control, employee training, and authentication protocols, among other things.
- Select the right software. Your agency's software can be a major weakness in your data security plan. The software should be built with standard security protocols integrated into its architecture. Most modern staffing software packages are. If your software is out of date, or no longer managed, it is time to upgrade. Waiting to replace or upgrade your software can open your agency up to a potential data breach.
- Make security a priority for employees. It is so easy for an employee to unknowingly cause a security opening. Personal or sensitive information should not be shared over the phone or email. Physical documents with sensitive information should not be taken outside of protected areas of the office. All employees need to know these policies and be held accountable for any breaches. Have regular training sessions to refresh memories and to emphasize the need for security.
- Keep your computers and software up to date. Out-of-date software can open up security risks that hackers can exploit. Malware often uses these security openings to gain unauthorized access to sensitive systems. Java and Flash are two applications that are often left out-of-date, opening up the network to breaches.
- Take regular backups of your data. If a computer or network device gets corrupted with a virus, you need to have a recent back-up of your sensitive data. This will allow you to recover quickly with minimal disruption. It also makes it possible to cut off a cyber attack without worry of data loss.
- Don't send or store any un-encrypted data. All sensitive data should be kept in encrypted form. This includes data being sent across the network or internet, as well as data being stored on personal devices as well as databases. If email is being used to transmit data in any form, it needs to be encrypted. Free wi-fi networks should never be used for transmitting or receiving sensitive data.
Using each of these tips will help you protect your customer data while simultaneously protecting your financial and employee data. Security breaches are very expensive to deal with. In fact, a single data breach at a smaller agency can easily destroy it. The better solution is to take a proactive stance and prevent them in the first place.