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Safe and Secure: Protecting Client Information

February 1, 2017

As a business owner, you are privy to a lot of confidential information – information that could do your clients harm if it ends up in the wrong hands. Here are some ways to ensure you are protecting your client’s information.

Your Security Software 

Overall, your security software needs to be comprehensive and up-to-date. It should include a firewall, anti-malware and anti-virus programs. Having multiple layers of security will make your system harder to penetrate and scare away hackers who are looking for an easy target.

Use Passwords 

Password protect everything that contains client data – including all computers. Adopt a “need to know” policy, restricting access to client data to authorized individuals.  Make sure everyone has their own login and password for computers and software so that you know who is accessing what and when. Revoke logins after an employee ends their employment with your company.

You should also require employees to change their passwords every 60-90 days and make sure that they use strong passwords that contain numbers, symbols, upper & lowercase letters (so, no making “password” your password).

Update Your Systems

Keep up with updates for all software and when possible elect to automatically update. Program and system updates are designed to protect you against the latest viral attacks and ensure that your systems are running properly.

Secure Wireless Connection

Make sure your WiFi network is password protected and is not given to just anyone who wants access.   Use a guest WiFi that clients can access when visiting the office. 

Shred Paperwork

All old paperwork needs to be properly disposed of via shredding or incinerating.

Lock Up Client Files

Client data in the form of paperwork or other portable media needs to be stored in a secure place – under lock and key. Remind employees not to leave client information on their desks or in a public area, such as a copy room.

Encrypt Data

Files and information sent through the internet needs to be encrypted. This includes all emails containing client ID and data.

Educate Employees 

Make sure that all of your employees know the importance of and responsibility for protecting client data. This should be a part of employee training.  Proper procedures for securing information must be discussed on an ongoing basis. Terminate access to client information for anyone who is no longer employed by your business. Create security requirements for your entire staff regarding computer information systems, paper records and use of client data. Provide periodic training to update staff members on any changes and ensure compliance. Employees need to be aware of the most current phishing schemes so that information isn’t leaked.

Prevent Data Loss 

Your data needs to be backed up frequently on either an external hard drive that is kept in a secure location with limited access by others, or online through a secure connection. Data should always be stored on two kinds of media (paper, external hard drive, a disk, the cloud, etc.).

Secure your Physical Space

Don’t forget to secure your building as well. You should always lock your doors and file cabinets in the event of a break-in. If you use a digital keypad, make sure you regularly change the entry code.  In addition to locks, consider installing security cameras and an alarm system on your company’s property.

Get Insurance and Make a Plan

There is insurance available to protect you and your clients from a data breach or Cyber Attack. If you haven’t already, look into Errors and Omissions Insurance. Finally, create a comprehensive plan to notify clients in case you are ever the victim of any data breach or theft.

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