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Data Security Important To Consumers

Regardless of what sector you operate in, your business will be covered by the new GDPR legislation, as well as the UK’s own regulations on data protection. But with complaints to the Information Commissioner’s Office rising significantly since the introduction of GDPR, are businesses doing enough?

Protecting personal data has become a challenge on a large scale. As well as ensuring all your digital records are secure, you also need to dispose correctly of any paper ones.

Aside from the large fines that can be imposed for breaching GDPR legislation, there’s another reason to ensure your data protection policies and procedures are in order - your customers.

Of course, GDPR and the other associated regulations are there to protect their personal information. But a recent survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) found that 84 per cent of consumers look at data security when deciding on a company to purchase from.

The CBI also revealed that 73 per cent of consumers want to develop a better understanding of how their data is used, while 54 per cent believe that companies have misused their data in the past.

Those questioned by the CBI revealed that they look at a business’ track record of protecting personal data as part of their decision-making process.

CBI UK chief policy director Matthew Fell commented: “Responsible data use is the number one reason a customer will stay loyal to your business. And irresponsible data use is the main motive for looking elsewhere.”

The organisation offered a number of recommendations for firms that want to beef up their data protection activities, and thereby win more customers. One of the top tips is to go beyond the privacy policy you’re required to have by law.

Being more transparent about how you use data was something more consumers would welcome, while 48 per cent of those surveyed said that they would like it if it was easier for them to get their shared data deleted.

As well as having a mechanism in place to allow consumers to contact your firm and make this request, you should also ensure you have a confidential data destruction service in place to actually carry out this request. 

Mr Fell added: “People need confidence in the way technology is getting smarter and solving problems. And this means engaging customers does matter for your bottom line.”

Earlier this month, The Register reported on figures obtained by Kroll about self-reported data breaches. It found that the number of data breaches reported climbed by 29 per cent year-on-year.

What’s more, of the 3,156 self-reported data breaches in 2017-18, a staggering 2,124 of them were caused by human mistakes or incompetence. Just 292 had a cyber element to them, the news provider noted.

This indicates that firms would be wise to invest in staff training to ensure people understand the importance of data protection, as well as the policies in place to protect personal information.

In addition to data use and sharing policies, it should also include training on data destruction and the correct procedures to follow, whether you’re shredding paper files or deleting data that’s held digitally.

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