With data breaches and cyber-attacks becoming more commonplace, it’s essential to ensure your business is implementing the right procedures when managing data. As a business, you’re responsible for ensuring the safety and security of all data, whether it be your own or that of your customers or clients. Data is an incredibly valuable asset, which is why it’s often the target of cyber attack. Data privacy must be considered and implemented throughout all levels of data management, including the collection, retention and sharing of data. While you must abide by the data privacy laws and regulations of your jurisdiction and those of other regions where you conduct business, there are also a number of protective measures you can implement to keep your data secure. What is data privacy? Data privacy, also known as information privacy, is an aspect of data protection that involves the handling of data and personal information in line with data protection laws, regulations and best practices. Data privacy covers all aspects relating to the storage, access, retention, security and sharing of sensitive data internally and with third parties. Data privacy aims to protect organisations, individuals and their data from fraudulent activity by third parties, including hacking, phishing scams and identity theft. Data privacy is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s essential for individuals in the sense that they have control over their own personal data and information and how it’s used. Secondly, data privacy is crucial for businesses that are involved with processing personal data. Companies must ensure they remain compliant and adhere to privacy principles and regulations. If businesses fail to manage data correctly, they may be at risk of regulatory fines, or worse, data breaches and loss of trust. As a business operating in Australia, you may be subject to one or more of the provisions of the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (Privacy Act), which means you must take all possible steps to protect personal information against misuse, loss and disclosure. If you operate in other countries, you may also be required to operate in line with that jurisdiction's regulations, like Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or the Brazilian General Data Protection Law (LGPD). In addition to the regulatory requirements surrounding data privacy, there are a number of best practices you can implement to keep your data safe and secure. Five best practices for data privacy As a business, you’re expected to implement policies and procedures to protect your customer against hacks, breaches and cyber attacks. While there are a variety of recommended practices when it comes to data privacy, we’ve narrowed it down to five strategies you can carry out to ensure your customer data is protected. 1. Privacy by design Ultimately, you should be applying good privacy practices throughout all systems and technologies used in your business. It’s much more efficient to be proactive about security systems during their development, rather than reactive in the event of a breach. To implement privacy systems throughout your business, conduct a thorough privacy risk assessment and execute targeted strategies to mitigate these risks. 2. Encrypt your data If you retain sensitive information, one method to keep it secure is by encrypting the data. If your systems were hacked, data encryption would ensure hackers couldn’t read it even if they had access. 3. Employee security training It’s essential to implement security guidelines and employee training so that your staff know how to manage sensitive information and respond to potential threats. Employees should maintain security standards whether they’re working from home, the office or off-site. 4. Secure file-sharing services Data sharing can leave information vulnerable to attacks, so it’s essential to ensure security is maintained. Whether you’re sharing data internally or with third parties, it’s important to use secure sharing services. If you share data with third parties it’s also vital to understand how they handle information themselves. Companies must do their due diligence to understand how their providers use customer data and the security safeguards they have to protect this information. 5. Deidentify data Deidentification is the process of removing or amending data as a means of protecting personal information. The aim is to ensure that personal data can’t be traced back to an individual. This is a crucial step when releasing or sharing data so an individual's personal information is protected.