Back in 2006, Clive Humby, an entrepreneur in the field of data science and customer-centric business strategies, coined the phrase data is the new oil.
As the world goes through rapid digital transformation, we're entering a digital-first era. The meaning behind this expression has become even more apparent. The question of cybersecurity is increasingly important.
92% of companies use databases to store information on a customer or a prospect.
It’s likely that your business has a CRM system filled with data. Businesses collect and store plenty of data about employees, customers, loyalty schemes, transactions, and whatever else. It helps them to build better business relationships, make better-targeted offers, and personalise buyer experiences.
But all that data sitting in your business’s CRM system makes it a honeypot for all kinds of cybercriminals.
Emails, contact details, names, job titles, addresses, passwords, and sums of transactions are valuable and sensitive information. Businesses need to pay attention to protecting it from hackers and malware.
If you think only large — or only small — companies are at risk… Let me disappoint you. No one is safe! In the last decade alone, businesses of all sizes have suffered data breaches that compromised user data with devastating consequences…
- LinkedIn, 2012: 165 million files leaked by a hacker
- Experian, 2013: 200 million records compromised by a cyber-imposter
- Marriott, 2018: 500 million customers affected by unauthorised access
- American Finance Corp, 2019: 885 million clients compromised
- Facebook, 2019: 540 million users affected by poor security
In fact, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), in the first nine months of 2021, data breaches affected 281 million people. That’s over 90% of 2020’s total figure of 310.1 million victims.
If you don’t want to ruin your brand image by having customer data compromised, you need to focus on improving CRM data protection practices. Read on to find out how you can protect your business and your customer.
The difference between data privacy and data security
Data protection is made up of data privacy and data security.
Data privacy, also known as information privacy, refers to the handling, processing, storage, and usage of personal information. Data privacy laws and procedures are all about respecting the rights of individuals to keep their personal information safe and private.
We’ve already discussed data privacy and how it can affect your business in great detail. Check it out to learn how to collect data for your customer database and manage it in adherence to data privacy laws.
Data security is a process that ensures data privacy. It focuses on protecting data from any unauthorized third-party access or malicious attacks and exploitation of data.
How to secure your CRM data and protect it from breaches
Knowing you need to take care of both data privacy and its security, let’s look at the key steps your business needs to take today to increase the level of CRM data protection.
Secure your IT infrastructure
First things first — especially if your business uses an on-premise CRM system and not a cloud-based one — you have to protect the IT infrastructure that hosts your CRM data. This includes all the laptops, smartphones, and other devices your team uses to access information in the database.
Make it as difficult as possible for hackers to get inside your database; create multiple layers of protection.
- Install a reliable firewall to control and monitor who has access to your data
- Install a reputable anti-virus program to take care of your CRM data and protect it from viruses, trojans and other malware attacks
- Regularly update your OS. With every new update, OS vendors try to fix any security vulnerabilities detected in the system
- Encrypt all your disks and install VPN to create a tunnel that encrypts your communication and browsing for the added layer of security
Remember! It’s not a set it and forget it type of task. You need to regularly conduct IT risk assessment audits to identify weak spots and security loopholes before quickly taking care of them.
Choose a reliable, trusted CRM vendor
Only the largest enterprises in the world come close to matching the data security which cloud-based CRM vendors immediately provide. If you’re a small or medium business, it’s best to opt for a CRM hosted in the cloud.
But not all CRM solutions are created equal. It’s important to carefully research the market before it’s possible to find the right tool.
When hackers target a business, they try to figure out which CRM solution it uses to store and manage their data. They look for all the known vulnerabilities of a system and ways to exploit them. By that same logic, you should look for a business with a stellar security history that hasn’t been involved in any data leak scandals.
Moreover, you should look for a CRM solution that meets the following criteria…
- Doesn’t own your data; your business must be able to retain all rights to your data
- Access permissions; view and revoke permissions for your account
- Compliant with data privacy and security laws, including GDPR and CCPA
- Deletion-protection functionality
- Third-party tested security assurance
For example, NetHunt CRM is an incredibly safe and secure CRM system. Our product passed our first Google Security Assessment successfully back in 2019 and has been doing it every year to confirm our compliance. We offer powerful security features to help protect your business against unauthorized access.
For security purposes, your NetHunt CRM data is stored on the Google Cloud Platform. NetHunt encrypts backup copies of that data for recovery purposes. NetHunt also encrypts data in transit between our facilities and at rest, ensuring that it can only be accessed by authorized roles.
CRM security is just one of the many criteria you should consider when choosing the right CRM system for your business. To make sure you know exactly what else you should look for, check out our guide.
Create data backups
The majority of great CRM systems already provide protection against infrastructure and operational failures. However, no system in the world is perfect; it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Pay close attention to data replication and data backup. Conduct daily backups to restore a customer’s data if the need occurs. Backups aren’t just helpful for the situations where your data is a target for hackers, but also for when parts of it get lost due to accidental deletion.
Make sure your passwords are strong
A weak password is one of the most common reasons for data leaks. You should regularly conduct password audits to detect any weak passwords, changing them to something different to what it was a week, a month, or a year agi.
Each device that your team uses to access the CRM system must have its own robust and unique password. This means qwertys, last names, birthdays, or family members details aren’t allowed.
A good password is one that contains a combination of lower and upper case letters, numbers, and symbols. It should also exceed eight characters in length. Alternatively, if you don’t want to come up with a password of your own, you can turn to password managers and some browsers to suggest a strong password for you.
Now, robust passwords can be difficult to remember. This doesn’t mean your team members should store them in the Notes app or written down on a post-it that lies around on their office desk. Teach your employees to store and retrieve passwords when required safely.
For an extra layer of security, you can enable two-factor password authentication to access your CRM database. Then, if somebody wants to access the system, they’ll be prompted to validate their login using a second device or their email address.
On top of that, you should also promote single sign-on and encourage your employees to log into different systems using their work email addresses. For instance, their work Google account. That way, in the case of a hacker attack, you can disable the account and automatically log the user out of every system that uses it.
Host regular cybersecurity training sessions
As the world goes through the time of rapid technological advancement, the accessibility toof tools and technologies available for data protection grows. Unfortunately, so do the techniques hackers use for their attacks to steal the aforementioned data.
It’s a catch-up game between the two forces — the good and the bad. Your team is trapped in the middle.
To provide the highest level of CRM data protection, ensure that every member of your team is up-to-date with technology development and is aware of all the phishing methods, hacker tricks, and other risks associated with managing sensitive data. Education is key.
We’ve put together a little to-do list of all the things you should work through with your team at the cybersecurity training…
- Secure web browsing
- Email communication
- Data security compliance audit
- Security processes
- Hacking methods
Make use of access permissions
The majority of great CRM systems allow customers to control access permissions and restrict certain users from accessing certain bits of data. You should take advantage of this functionality but at the same time… don’t overuse it.
Some businesses rush to create extremely complex security models that end up being so complicated they resemble their organisational charts. This can put off the employees from going through the security processes and compromise the protection CRM data receives.
So, you need to keep it as simple as possible and start the development of the access permissions model on the premise of “everyone can access everything”. From there, start taking some permissions away from the people who don’t need to access certain areas of the database.
For each role, ask yourself the following questions regarding the level of access permissions they might need to carry out their job…
- Is there a legal reason why some data must be restricted?
- Does this role need access to this particular bit of data to do their job better?
- Will this role need to frequently work with the data in the CRM to get their job done?
- Is there a privacy concern for either our customers or our employees if this role has access to this information?
Make a habit of monitoring your CRM data for suspicious activity
Finally, you want to make sure that any potentially harmful activity gets noticed and stopped as early as possible. Regularly monitor your CRM system for any suspicious logins, data extractions, and other manipulations.
Setting up a dashboard in the CRM system that shows all the data and statistics on your CRM security in real-time will help you to prevent possible breaches and optimise processes.
You've read all about it, now give it a go.
NetHunt CRM provides all the security features your business needs as blooms and blossoms. If you're an early-stage startup, you might even qualify for a special price plan - even after the 14-day free trial.
If you want to see how NetHunt CRM works for your business, book a demo today.
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