How to Keep Client Information Confidential
In 2018, one of the biggest data breaches involving the largest social media platform was exposed. Cambridge Analytica harvested Facebook users’ data without their consent and used it for political advertising. The scandal led to lawsuits, investigations into Facebook privacy policies, and a US congressional hearing questioning Mark Zuckerberg.
This incident brought the issue of data privacy and security to the forefront and raised important questions about how companies handle personal information.
It’s no secret that data is one of the most valuable commodities in today’s digital age. As such, you have a responsibility to keep track of your clients and protect their data. Failure to do this can result in legal penalties, reputational damage, and loss of business.
In this article, you’ll learn what client confidentiality is, its importance, and learn about effective strategies on how to keep client information confidential.
What is client confidentiality?
Client confidentiality is the practice of protecting your clients’ sensitive information from unauthorized access and use. It includes the data they provided when they became customers and any other information you learn about them throughout your business relationship. And the importance cannot be overemphasized.
Keeping your clients’ information a secret helps to maintain a healthy customer relationship. As you know, their trust and confidence is crucial to your business. Mishandling their information can lead to a breach of that trust and ultimately harm your relationship with them. And as Facebook found out, damage control after sensitive information gets into the wrong hands is stressful, costly, and time-consuming.
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Also, failing to protect your clients and their information can lead to reputational damage and costly legal issues. As such, you must ensure their data doesn’t get exposed to protect them from harm. This positions you as a reliable, trustworthy, and responsible business partner.
So, how do you protect confidential client information? Here are seven effective strategies to help you get started.
7 effective strategies for keeping client Information confidential
1. Using a secure file-sharing client portal
Maintaining client confidentiality starts from the basics. Before collating data or sharing information between you and your client, there must be a structure in place to prevent the need to fix security errors.
Trying to remedy an error can be taxing, and in most cases, third parties could have gotten access to your client’s information. So how do you prevent this?
Use a secure client portal with file-sharing capabilities like Service Provider Pro (SPP). It removes the difficult task of keeping up with files shared across different platforms, and making sure they are secure. Additionally, the data is encrypted in order to prevent accidental information leakages.
SPP supports two-factor authentication that requires users to provide additional information (such as a security code) every time they log in. Also, it guarantees that only you have access to your client’s private information. Putting this in place ensures you can share data without worrying about third-party software breaches.
2. Store physical documents in controlled access areas
Once you have implemented a rigid and secure system for online data, it’s crucial to keep an eye on the clients’ physical documents. If your company has many employees, documents must be kept in places with limited access. There are ways to handle physical documents to ensure they are secured.
First, label these physical documents as confidential and store them in locked cabinets. Don’t leave them lying around. Instead, implement strict rules and limit employees’ access to clients confidential documents. Anyone who needs access to these documents must go through the right channel.
Also, when you have to dispose of documents containing confidential information, ensure that they are properly done through shredding or burning. This will prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.
3. Conduct security checks and training for employees
Nothing is as risky as leaving sensitive documents within the reach of someone prone to criminal activities. Between sending emails and handling clients’ documents, a little breach in your company’s security procedures can cause serious legal issues and a great loss of clients.
That’s why it’s best to conduct a thorough background check before recruiting new employees. Instead of taking matters into your own hands, you can use companies such as GoodHire to help you implement a screening program that fits your needs.
It is also crucial to complement your efforts by hosting routine security training for all staff members. This way, your employees are well-educated on the best security practices while they work onsite and remotely.
4. Ensuring compliance with industry regulations
Many industries have regulations that govern how companies must handle personal data. Regulations like HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), or PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard). If you’re in one of these industries, then you must comply with the law to maintain confidentiality.
Also, every country and sometimes state has different sets of rules that are enforced for the protection of citizens’ private information. It’s essential to identify the laws of the region your business operates in. This way, you can abide by these laws to keep your client’s information confidential.
5. Beware of cybersecurity threats
No matter how tight and reliable you think your cybersecurity is, fraudsters are relentless in their commitment to hacking into company systems to gain access to data. Top companies like Facebook, Microsoft, and Google have experienced security breaches in the past. So your business is not immune to this.
That’s why it’s important to always look out for cybersecurity issues and resolve any errors immediately. Be mindful of hosting third-party software on systems that contain vital security information. Also, read the terms and conditions of any application before installing it. This goes especially for browser extensions that often require extended access to your data.
6. Maintain updated cybersecurity software
The best way to protect your company from cybercrime is to stay updated on the latest cybersecurity threats. Invest in monitoring tools to keep an eye on your systems and ensure that private data isn’t being accessed by unauthorized personnel.
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Also, ensure your software is regularly updated and watch out for any change in trend that may serve as a deterrent to your already established security endeavors.
A combination of these practices will give you an advantage against the activities of hackers and minor breaches.
7. Avoid using mobile phones and use portable devices carefully
As much as personal phones are portable and mobile, they are susceptible to internal and external security threats, especially if stolen.
Some phone applications cannot be trusted. They require access to your phone’s storage, camera, location, and might send sensitive information to a third party. This means your phone can be spied on, which puts vital information at risk. A general rule of thumb is to keep work and personal devices separate.
If you must use portable devices, be conscious of the risks involved. Portable devices like flash drives and SD cards are also prone to theft. Keep them locked and encrypted, use password protection, and store them in locked spaces out of reach.
How to keep client information confidential FAQ
Why is it important to maintain client confidentiality?
Client confidentiality is essential for workplaces to maintain client trust and adhere to compliance regulations. The implications of breaching client confidentiality include legal consequences, heavy fines, and loss of clients.
How do you ensure information is kept confidential?
The basic rule of maintaining information confidentiality is adopting the best security practices within the work environment. Some of them include restricted data access, implementation of non-disclosure agreements among employees, and using reliable cybersecurity software.
What client information should be kept confidential?
Every detail released by a client to a company must be kept confidential. This includes their personal information and transaction details. What exactly classifies as confidential differs from one organization to another.
What type of customer information is subject to confidentiality?
Customer information like medical records, social security, bank details, address, email, and phone number should be strictly confidential.
Make client confidentiality a top priority
Between fulfilling services, managing employees, and coordinating daily activities, maintaining client confidentiality can be challenging.
However, giving room for security breaches is no risk any company wants to take. So set your priorities right by applying the aforementioned strategies. This way, you will be able to keep your client’s information private and earn their trust.