Got Sensitive Data?

Of course you do, and so does every one of your customers. Even though it might not always be immediately obvious, all businesses – even small businesses – have some degree of information that warrants protection due to its confidential nature.

What Constitutes Sensitive Data?

When referring to information or data, “sensitive” means secret, confidential, or restricted for reasons of security. Common examples of sensitive data in business include:

  • Customer contacts and credit card numbers

  • Employee files and HR records

  • Legal documents and agreements

  • Financial information and tax documents

To test, ask yourself (and your customers): “Is this information something that would be OK if posted on a public-facing website?” If the answer is No, then consider the information as sensitive. Try it out:

  • Marketing materials detailing the benefits of your customers’ product: These brochures help grow sales, and the more people who see them, the better. Most marketing materials are typically not considered sensitive; the answer to the question above is an obvious Yes.

  • Manufacturing instructions for your customers’ new product: Your customers wouldn’t want their proprietary plans posted online – what if their competitors found them, perhaps they could be reverse engineered? The answer here is clearly No and this information should be treated as sensitive.

Take A Look Around, You’ll Find It Everywhere

Sensitive data is a broad concept, so it can be helpful to think through the implications of confidential information falling into the wrong hands. Consider a few examples of company sensitive data and the consequences that could arise if it were breached or stolen:

  • Medical records: HIPAA compliance violation, identity theft, insurance fraud

  • Privileged pricing lists: Loss of customer or vendor relationships, reputational damage

  • Employee files and performance reviews: Embarrassment, lawsuits, career and cultural damage

  • Restaurant and food manufacturer recipes: Loss of IP and competitive edge

  • Facility and security system layouts: Can be used to plan a physical attack or theft

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg – sensitive data comes in many forms, as does the fallout from its compromise.

Protect It Like It’s Yours

As with other cybersecurity considerations, there’s no silver bullet solution to securing confidential information. To best protect your customers’ most sensitive data, consider an ongoing cybersecurity program that includes multiple layers of protection:

  • Foundation: Conduct an assessment to gauge where customers stand. Develop policies and procedures to help protect their data. Conduct routine testing, like ethical hacking, to find any holes in their systems.

  • Culture: Deploy a program of ongoing training to educate the team on identifying and protecting sensitive data. Teach them the simple test above and provide continuous training.

  • Technology: Implement frequent vulnerability scanning to ensure weaknesses in the network and firewall don’t slip through the cracks. Depending on your customer’s needs, consider deploying additional technologies like secure email, encryption, and data loss prevention (DLP).

For the sake of your customers, protecting sensitive data has to rank as a top priority—the consequences are often more than just hurt feelings.

Stay Safe,

Your Friends @ Defendify