Today is Data Privacy Day. As an annual event, it’s probably not the best excuse for a team meeting at the pub and it almost certainly lacks the fun of Burns’ night or the sexiness of Valentine’s Day. Yet, in the digital era, Data Privacy Day is a good excuse to take a step back and consider the potential risks we expose ourselves and our businesses to.
Data Privacy Day is about getting us thinking about how well we guard our personal and business data, and our all-important customer information. The fact that a hoax caller got a direct line to the British Prime Minister just days ago shows that no organisation is immune from the type of human error that culminated in his number being given away inappropriately.
Use correct and up-to-date records
For small businesses, running a tight ship reduces the likelihood of falling foul of the Data Protection Act, as well as potentially souring relationships and even leaving your firm open to damages claims. It’s also good manners and good housekeeping: using incorrect or out-of-date records not only risks annoying clients, but also wastes time and money when emails are deleted and letters go straight in the bin.
On the flip side, good information handling can improve your business’s reputation by increasing customer and employee confidence. Not sure how well you or your team are doing when it comes to best-practice? Take a look at this checklist from the Information Commissioner’s Office.
Keep your passwords secure
Then there’s the thorny issue of passwords. With logins needed for everything from your bank, supermarket or social network, using the same one over and over is clearly a bad idea. Yet make too many new or complex passwords and it’s easy to get mixed up or forget. It’s also good practice to change passwords on a regular basis. Here, apps such as 1Password that use secure encryptions for double protection can be incredibly convenient.
Where does your data end up?
Last but by no means least, before signing up to a new bank or software provider, don’t be afraid to ask questions about where your data will be stored and how it will be used. Keep in mind too that, like many things in life, the old adage ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch’ is probably applicable. The main reason many software apps are free is because the data is used commercially or held for use at a later date.
Read more about Xero’s world-class data protection.