5 steps to take to prevent data breaches

The insights as summarised in this article were provided by Susie Jones, CEO of Cynch Security, through our Cyber Security for Founders workshop.

Treat personal information as toxic

You need to be careful with the personal information you collect. Consider it dangerous, like a hazard. Every piece of personal data you gather from your customers or employees should be treated as toxic and handled with caution.

Know how you collect, store and access personal information

When you collect data, think about where it's going and how it gets there. Don't just focus on the end storage place. Consider how you can protect it and manage access. For example, if you receive information from a website form or email, think about how you're transmitting and storing it. Take a moment to assess what data you have and where it is. By considering the entire data collection and storage process, including how data is transmitted and who has access to it, you can identify potential vulnerabilities and take steps to prevent data breaches or unauthorised access.

You should also consider who in your company needs access to this information and who doesn't. If someone doesn't need access to this data, they shouldn’t have it. This is not meant to be a negative thing, only a necessary step to keep your and your clients’ information secure.

Stop storing sensitive data you don’t need

Everyone should think about what data they have that is sensitive, where they store it, and what they really need to keep. Anything else should be removed. One very common example of businesses storing data they don’t need is in the real estate industry, where personal information is often required for renting a house. Real estate agents don't actually need to keep copies of your driver's licence. They only need to verify your identity. This means they can simply check your documents without storing them.

Set clear expectations with your staff and clients

You should set expectations with your staff to make sure they understand that even an accidental data breach can cause harm to your customers' relationships. By doing this, your employees will be more careful and follow the security protocols you've established, ultimately reducing the likelihood of data breaches.

Position yourself as more trustworthy

The current cyber crisis presents a great opportunity for you to invest in security and use it as a tool for growth. By prioritising security right from the start, you can show potential customers that you take their privacy seriously and have implemented policies and procedures to protect their information. This can be a powerful message that sets you apart from your competitors. So, don't just think of security as an expense or a time-consuming task, but as an investment that can help your startup succeed.