Companies around the world have been forced to go through an accelerated tech metamorphosis. With many companies just trying to survive the pandemic they have adopted many services to make us as consumers feel more at ease to do business with them. These services vary greatly, but some of the most common services are contactless delivery, curbside pick-up, increased telehealth appointments, and selling masks.
Although most of these changes were necessary to continue doing business, new risks began to arise with these changes. Nearly every business has had to transfer some aspect of their business online. For every business making these transitions, more new dangers began to reveal themselves. There are many potential privacy pitfalls that could be extremely damaging. With regulations changing it is hard to keep up, especially when you're a business that isn't as used to being online as much as some of the other larger corporations.
Schools, hospitals, Dr.'s offices, and even small mom and pop store owners were forced into doing business online with little to no experience with how to protect our privacy. The rush that they were forced to be in, made this even harder to ensure adequate security measures were in place. This has put tremendous strain on these businesses because of the need to make quick decisions with new technology, fast paced learning to build online storefronts, and adopting new communication platforms to process their customer's data. The reason this puts such a strain on businesses is because they are lacking technical experience. Which means businesses are just making quick decisions on subjects that they know very little or nothing about.
As a company in the technology industry we feel that it is our duty to help individuals understand technology and make sure they have some simple tips to live by during this trying time. We have broken these topics down to four simple tasks for businesses to follow in order to maintain and mitigate privacy risks:
Perform regular risk assessments:
Implementing basic risk assessments for data activities will help you as a business to think objectively before making a potentially risky decision regarding data storage. During this risk assessment look into how you would be able to prove that a consumers data was protected. Having some sort of paper trail with steps you have taken to protect data can be very important to have in the event of a privacy breach.
Review your privacy policies:
Take some time to read through your privacy policies and ensure that these policies are available to all of your customers. Try to remember that not all of your customers understand legal paperwork and ensure that there is a copy that customers are able to read in layman’s-terms.
Remain aware of actions taken by and with vendors and partners:
Acquire a Data Protection Officer:
Even with a smaller business it is ideal to keep data decisions in one place. While this has always been true, it is more important now than ever. Data Protection Officers serve as a focal point for privacy concerns within an organization. They are a vital liaison to regulatory bodies while the character of privacy law enforcement remains ambiguous. Even if the person lacks privacy experience, empowering a single set of eyes to focus on privacy is a quick, cost-conscious way to mitigate risks.
Data Privacy implementation exhibits many features of the economist’s "time inconsistency" dilemma - it's too soon to do it until it's too late. And as we've seen recently, "too late" can mean a serious stumble at a critical business juncture.