Getting Your House in Order: Privacy Tips for You at Home and at Work

August 17, 2020

Pull up a sofa. Now that home is where the majority of us are working, individuals and companies are becoming acutely aware that ensuring data privacy is a shared responsibility. This goes well beyond what was necessary prior to COVID-19 when people took laptops home from the office where presumably appropriate protocols were in place to guard against data misuse and outside intruders gaining access to company assets. For marketers who work with customer data, it’s crucial to handle that data with care to avoid it getting viewed, shared or accessed inappropriately.

The first step is to look at basic home information security. These are the things we all know we should do, like making sure our WIFI network is secure; not connecting with unsecured networks; using a VPN; not using personal computers if we have business-assigned computers we are supposed to use; not letting others access our business data or computers; using strong passwords and changing passwords periodically; and being very selective about emails you open and links you click on.

These articles from Data Privacy Manager and Forbes cover this in more detail, but a good rule of thumb is that if you don’t recognize something, check it first – whether it’s an article source, the sender of an email, or the validity of a link.

©2020 Data Privacy Manager – Source: UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), Most hacked passwords revealed as UK cyber survey exposes gaps in online security

Managing customer data appropriately has its own specifics and challenges, and it’s important to work closely with your company’s data security experts to make sure you and your team understand what access you should have to data and how you can use it. Familiarize yourself with your company’s privacy policy. Keep in mind, that customer information has to be handled with great care and that the company has legal obligations to do so. This applies to data records and also to discussing, copying or displaying customer information whether via email, IM, or via Zoom or other meeting platforms. If your company has not provided your department with specific guidelines for this, you should ask for information and check periodically for updates both on what you should be doing and how you can ensure nothing’s been breached.

In terms of list management do and don’ts: do remove personal identifiers whenever possible, delete customer data as soon as you’re done using it, and encrypt personal data that you do store. Don’t download client lists or import or merge outside data. This is also a good time to take an audit of your data to see what you’re storing and why.

Discuss how you can recognize or check for a data breach and put procedures in place with company experts and your own team to be prepared to immediately address a breach, should one occur. Educate and involve your employees at the outset, so they understand what needs to be done to protect data, why it is critical to do so, whether there is any individual liability for that data, and how everyone can work together to comply.

These precautions and protocols are good proactive measures that are easy to implement and far better to do ahead than to deal with the consequences of a problem afterwards. It’s also important to recognize that however long it takes for the current pandemic to be tamed enough to allow a return to the workplace, this has caused a clear rethinking of the work-home paradigm that will likely extend well into the future.