Protect Your Business's Privacy With These Simple Steps

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Do you own your own business? Are you concerned about the privacy of yourself or your customers? Keep yourself and your customers safe by following these easy steps:

Encrypt your files: If you keep customer data on a computer, make sure that all sensitive files are encrypted. If you're not sure how to do this, consult with a computer expert who can show you what to do. If your computer gets stolen or hacked, having all files encrypted will ensure that the thieves aren't able to access the digital data.

Shred your documents: If you need to print out potentially sensitive information, such as the names and addresses of your customers, have all such papers shredded completely. Shredding services are one way to know that your documents have been destroyed completely. While you may be tempted to simply use an ordinary office shredder, the truth is that a typical shredder may not be enough. Most office shredders leave strips or squares of paper as large as a quarter of an inch wide. In contrast, good shredding services will grind up your sensitive documents in order to prevent anyone from being able to piece them together again.

Shred your CDs: Do you regularly pass around CDs with corporate secrets on them, such as specs on your latest prototype? Unfortunately, CDs are much more permanent than paper and can easily be plucked from the trash by an unscrupulous person. However, many shredding services will shred not only paper, but also your old CDs as well. They may cut your CDs to ribbons or confetti. They may eventually send the resulting plastic bits to a recycling center to be melted down and turned into something else. This complete destruction of your CDs is the best way to know that nobody will ever be able to get any data from them.

Train your employees: If you have employees that regularly deal with customer payments, let them know how important it is to keep customer data secret. Instruct them that they should never quickly jot down a customer's credit or debit card number for them to enter it into your payment processor. Numbers that have been written on a scrap of paper can easily be accidentally left out of the documents that you send to the shredding service. These scraps can also be stolen by anyone who has access to that employee's desk, including other employees, customers and delivery personnel. But if your employees only enter the credit card information in your secure payment system, there will be no financial data laying around to tempt potential thieves.