For your business to run smoothly, you might be forced to collect personal client information, such as their names, age and area of residence, bank details, and medical records, to deliver personalized customer service. While collecting this information to better your services is not illegal, revealing it without the owner’s permission is, and it can attract a hefty penalty and a revocation of your license.
So, how do you protect your clients’ information? Are there other things you can do to make sure these pieces of information remain safe? To get answers to these questions, keep reading. Here are five simple straight-up ways to keep your clients’ information confidential.
It’s possible that some of your employees have clearance to access confidential information, and while you can ensure that you keep information safe, there are possibilities that an employee will not. There are, however, steps that you can take to ensure that your employees comply with all company policies regarding confidentiality.
First, keep the circle small. When only a handful of employees have access to vital information, it is easier to take action in case of breaches. Therefore, you should only give access to top-ranking employees who require access to this information and away from employees such as interns who most likely have no use for that information.
Secondly, ensure that you have a system that monitors all log-ins. This will help pinpoint who caused the mishandling of information and allow for timely mitigation.
Confidential client information can be breached at whatever point in the data management chain. As a business owner, you need to ensure that rules exist right from how information is collected and labeled to how it’s transported. You wouldn’t want to have a mix-up in customers’ data. Furthermore, the use of these pieces of information should be made particularly clear so that they are only retrieved when necessary.
In cases where information is to be used and discarded, you need to ensure that you have proper disposal mechanisms for that purpose. For example, written and typed information should be shred completely or incinerated to irrecoverable forms. Likewise, digital information should be deleted entirely from the system’s servers and not left lying in computer recycle bins.
In most cases, strict rules and decisions get things done. The security of information begins with company policies. Before your business can start handling confidential client information, you need to make sure that you have policies that govern how this information will exist within your business. This includes policies on risk management, password protection, sanctions, access and access control, security violations, evaluation, business associations, integrity, and documentation. These are but a few of the policies that your business needs to have before you can collect a single piece of confidential information.
Policies on data management might vary depending on your type of business. For example, suppose you are running a medical facility. In that case, you will need to ensure that you are compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) by adhering to HIPAA audit requirements. Another important legislation is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of 2016, which balances your clients’ right to confidentiality and your company’s right to use the collected information.
Furthermore, you need to ensure that the information you collect is secure. This means that safes and cabinets where written and types information is locked correctly should be under 24hr surveillance. When it comes to digitally saved information, you need to ensure that the files are properly encrypted and guarded by an up-to-date antivirus system. It would also help to have a password policy that safeguards access to this information and makes sure that your company computers run on a secure internet connection.
All other steps at guarding information might not bear fruit if you don’t take your time to ensure that all your employees are people of integrity. Though we are not gifted with mind-reading abilities, having a good hiring team can save you many problems. You need to ensure proper hiring of employees by carrying out thorough vetting and background checks of potential employees before giving them work.
Once you have a team of employees you can trust, you should offer them in-training education on security matters, in this case, on the protection of client information. In addition to that, they should be made aware of all the company’s policies on handling data, and how to respond in case of breaches and other security problems. You should also conduct exiting interviews to ensure that leaving employees will abide by non-disclosure agreements and other confidentiality policies post-employment.
Implementing a robust security protocol for your business is a good step towards keeping your clients’ information safe. However, having a relaxed and overly confident state of mind is out of the question. There are frequent changes in cyber attacks and espionage that can make your company vulnerable.
It is therefore important that you keep up to date with trends on data management, third-party policies, and the training of employees to avoid getting taken by storm. Also, regulation authorities like HIPAA have the authority to conduct confidentiality assessments randomly. So, why get caught unawares?
In conclusion, keeping your clients’ data safe not only keeps your business from legal liabilities but also increases your customers’ trust in your business. Follow these tips to keep your customers’ data as confidential as required.