I like to do a very informal poll when I talk to people about cyber security and data privacy. I tell them I was a part of one of the major data breaches in 2015. Think Target, Home Depot, Anthem and several others. Now, I don’t have exact numbers, but I can say the majority of the people I talk to say, “Oh yeah, me too.”

It has become a “when,” not “if,” you will be a victim of a data security breach. The website privacyrights.org/data-breach tracks data breaches in close to real time. The numbers are astonishing. Seemingly small breaches happen regularly.

As a businessperson, are you being vigilant in protecting customer information? Employee information? It’s easy to think, “Oh sure, of course I am.”

I was speaking with a technology expert at a major local company recently. He told me the organization essentially ran a “test” by dropping several USB flash drives in the parking lot. He reported a number of the flash drives were then plugged in to company computers, likely by unsuspecting employees trying to figure out whose device it was.

It seems innocent, but something like this could be enough to spark a data breach. An unknown flash drive could be storing a virus, and plugging it in could load that virus onto the company system.

Better Business Bureau offers several steps for businesses to consider in being stewards of personal information.

Be transparent: Be open with your customers on how personal information is collected, used, shared and protected. If your business collects personal information you should have measures in place to protect it from unauthorized access.

Communication is key: Keep an open dialogue with the public about what privacy means to your organization and how it’s maintained. It’s not enough to just have a privacy policy, consider how you communicate your standards to your customers.

Keep employees accountable: Demonstrate to your employees the vital role they play in keeping customers’ data secure. Empower your team to take charge in maintaining privacy. That means following best practices, like not repeating phone or credit card numbers loud enough for other customers to hear, being vigilant online by not clicking or downloading unknown links or attachments and not plugging in random flash drives or other devices.

As individuals, we need to be as responsible as possible for others’ personal information as we would our own.

Contributor: Dale Dixon helps business and buyer win in the marketplace through ethics and integrity in his role as Chief Innovation Officer at Better Business Bureau Northwest. As a speaker, best selling author and thought leader in the arena of business ethics, self- regulation and consumer protection, Dale appears in front of thousands of people each year. Whether a live audience, television or radio news program, online or the printed page, Dale is spreading BBB’s mission to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust

Share on Facebook2Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+0Pin on Pinterest0Email this to someone