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How To Protect Customer Information

The number of consumer fraud reports filed with the Federal Trade Commission exceeded 2.2 million—in 2020 alone. Customer data has been and will continue to be under attack. Customer information protection is therefore a prime concern for conscientious companies. Further, data protection standards dictate that certain measures need to be implemented for a company to avoid hefty fines. 

With customer data protection measures, an organization can maintain both the security of their clients’ information and their reputation in the market.

Why Do You Need to Protect Customer Information?

For Law and Ethics

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires companies to incorporate data protection and privacy standards to ensure the safety of customer information. It is important to protect customer database to both stay in line with GDPR guidelines and for ethical reasons. Exposing customer information to hackers would leave them vulnerable to identity fraud and theft.

Avoid Breaches That Can Bring Loss to the Business or Hurt Data Subjects

A data breach can result in significant financial loss for your organization. Not only can a breach result in the shutdown of critical business infrastructure, resulting in service outages, but cyberattacks can also damage the reputation of the business. This often has a long-lasting financial impact. 

Also, customers whose data has been stolen can be subject to theft, losing thousands of dollars, and suffering damage to their credit scores.

For the Growth of Brand Value and Goodwill

Enhancing cybersecurity to protect customer information enhances the value of your brand and promotes goodwill, primarily because it engenders trust in your company. When consumers hand over their payment information, they want to know that it is in safe, thoughtful hands.

Maintain Public , Investor, and Customer Trust

Bad news about data breaches travels quickly across the screens of members of the public. Avoiding these embarrassments can be useful in gaining the public’s trust. The same goes for investors and customers interested in doing business with your company. Security breeds confidence and trust, both of which are important in building long-term emotional bonds with those you work with and serve.

Gain a Competitive Advantage

Secure infrastructure for customer information protection is becoming a more and more valuable asset, particularly as the number of data breaches increases. To gain an edge over your competitors, you will want to use encryption, data loss prevention (DLP) measures, and even an artificial intelligence (AI) platform to earn the confidence of customers.

Support Innovation

The freedom to innovate by adding to a network, expanding software offerings, and creating new IT infrastructure is enhanced when you have secure systems to build within. With strong security, you do not have to worry about creating new vulnerabilities while innovating products and services. 

You also have the confidence of knowing you will not have to stop creating new ideas to invest time and energy into beefing up your security.

Ways in Which Companies Protect Customer Information

Creating Strong Passwords

Strong passwords prevent opportunistic hackers from looking for easy-to-guess credentials. Using complex passwords will often create more work than it is worth for an attacker.

Installing Antivirus Software

Antivirus software is equipped to protect your organization from a wide variety of threats. Also, because it automatically updates, it can keep you safe from new threats that appear on the landscape.

Limiting Access to Customer Information

When you limit access to customer information so that only those who absolutely need access have it, you significantly reduce the number of people who can attack your network. On the other hand, if an excessive number of people can see and use customer information, you have to ensure that each of them, their devices, and the networks they use are all secure.

Creating a Centralized Monitoring System

With a centralized monitoring system, you are able to gain visibility into many devices and processes without having to navigate between physical spaces or depend on communication from various team members. This limits the number of mistakes and saves valuable time.

Keeping the Operating System and Security Patch Up-to-date

Security patches ensure your systems are equipped with the latest intelligence about the threat landscape. Keeping your patches up-to-date means your software and the tools you depend on are powered by the most recent information.

Creating a Strong Privacy Policy

Strong privacy policies limit the number of eyes and devices that can access sensitive information. Further, they keep security concerns top of mind for employees and executives.

Regular Data Backup

If there is a breach, you can use a backup to quickly restore things back to normal. However, you need to perform backups on a regular basis—and frequently—so that the most recent backup is sufficient to maintain business continuity.

Data Masking

With data masking, you can hide the original data by making it look like something else. This can be used for data the organization wants to keep secret, as well as personal data and PII. Attackers, if they are able to see the data, are led to believe it is something of little or no value to them, and they move on to a more “valuable” target.

Data Encryption

Encrypting data makes it impossible to read without a decryption key. If an attacker is able to gain access to sensitive data, they will not be able to use it. This adds a powerful final line of defense against cyber criminals.

How Fortinet Can Help

Incorporating Fortinet data privacy practice principles and tools can bolster your customer information protection and earn you more business. 

Further, with software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) from Fortinet, you can implement full control over the flow of data. Controlling how data is routed and where can enhance your ability to protect customer information as you ensure it is transmitted through only the safest channels. Further, with SD-WAN, you can prevent bottlenecks that can result in significant vulnerabilities. With FortiGate, you get a next-generation firewall (NGFW) that can protect your customers' information from malware designed to exfiltrate it. FortiGate also blocks unauthorized access from malicious actors who may seek to exploit your customers' data. 

Additionally, you can guard your system with the full suite of Fortinet data privacy tools, which provides you with NGFWs, web application firewalls (WAFs), antivirus tools, and more—all working together. Fortinet's tools are powered by FortiGuard, which collects information about threats in real time to strengthen all of Fortinet’s security systems.