This post is a guest contribution from Kayleigh Alexandra, staff writer at Microstartups.org, which promotes giving through growth hacking.
It isn’t hard to understand why many people express their doubts about the safety of online data. When the internet first started picking up traction, it seemed almost magical, and everyone was inclined to focus on the positives: immense convenience and connectivity on a global scale. But sooner or later, the issues were going to emerge, and emerge they did.
Rates of fraud started to pick up. E-commerce sellers would exploit the lack of physical context to sell fake products, or take payment and never bother shipping at all. They’d get around the consequences by consistently building new stores or creating new marketplace accounts. Shoppers learned to be skeptical about store claims and look for reliable trust indicators.
There’s also the thorny problem of data security. We all know by now that even the biggest companies can fall victim to breaches. Huge amounts of personal data can be leaked, of course, or it can simply be manipulated. Neither possibility ends well.
In this article, we’re going to consider what’s necessary to make online data trustworthy at this point. What practices do online businesses and storage services need to implement to protect data and build customer trust? Let’s get to it.
Secure data collection
You may be familiar with the “garbage in, garbage out” principle, also known as GIGO, which holds a lot of significance in the online world. Given how much information is collected through various means, it’s not uncommon for fields to get mixed up or records to be accidentally displaced. Who hasn’t received an email starting with “Hey [FIRSTNAME]!” or similar?
By safeguarding the data collection process through tightly-secured web forms, organizations can enforce data integrity, minimize data entry mistakes, and ensure that their subsequent data processing is maximally productive. Such forms are also vitally important for user experience, particularly for those using mobile devices.
Blockchain technology was originally developed to support cryptocurrency, but it soon became clear that the security standard it achieved would be very useful for many other things as well. In the years since then, more and more companies have deployed it as a foundation. The open-source wiki at everipedia.org is now based on the EOS network, for instance, and Medicalchain is using blockchain tech to help healthcare users monitor their medical histories.
It isn’t a flawless technology, as it still has vulnerabilities, but the core benefits of blockchain—that no one party can realistically retain complete control over a blockchain, and all additions can be fully verified—are impressive enough for companies to be motivated to adopt it and figure out the vulnerabilities over time.
Driven by the advancement of smartphones, multi-factor authentication has gone from a desirable addition to a core part of a post-GDPR world full of users worried about who can access their private data. Ideally, one of the factors involves biometric authentication, but it isn’t strictly necessary. Requiring a one-time mobile passcode alongside a regular password is likely to be sufficient for most purposes.
Even as multi-factor authentication is implemented, it needs to be made minimally intrusive. Users have become accustomed to the extreme convenience of social logins and password managers, and they want both security and ease of access. The market offers various options, so it’s a matter of figuring out what best suits the intended audience.
Extensive security training
There are two words that can strike fear into even the most savvy security manager: social engineering. The weak link at this point is humanity. You can devise a rock-solid security system for an online database only to see one of your users get very lax with their own security measures.
Biometrics are very effective, but they’re not flawless. Someone can gain access to a system with their fingerprint but then leave the computer logged in while they take a break, for instance. Although it’s less likely, there’s also the possibility of a biometric signal being copied and replicated. It can definitely be done by someone sufficiently motivated.
In the end, every company needs rigorous internal security training to ensure that every employee knows exactly how to safeguard their system access. No making password notes, no leaving their computer unlocked, no being overly casual. Just one weak link, even in a position of relative unimportance, can compromise the entire chain.
People everywhere understand just how badly data can be abused these days, and for this reason, they need to be reassured that steps are being taken to secure their own private information. By implementing the measures we’ve looked at here, your organization will be able to cultivate trust with customers while protecting vital data.
Download your free copy of FormAssembly’s eBook, Why Your Organization Needs a Data Governance Strategy and How to Create One, to learn more about protecting data now and in the future.