12 Feb User Safety: 7 Strategies To Safeguard Users Information On Your Website
Many companies have started implementing better measures to protect their users in the past few years. How could they now when we consider the millions of dollars fined because of the GDPR enforcement?
Overall, GDPR is a positive change in the internet landscape, as it gives more privacy rights to users. To comply with privacy regulations such as GPDR and CCPA, companies have to make better efforts to protect their user data.
In this article, we will go through the useful strategies that can help you protect both your users and your business.
Importance of User Privacy and Safety
It would take an eternity to list all the different subgroups of people that are using the internet. It’s enough to mention age, and we can understand how each age group uses the internet differently.
I’m mentioning this to draw a single point – not everyone on the internet is tech-savvy. This is quite important if you have a business or a website. Because people were unaware of their rights and what information is sensitive to be shared, regulatory bodies such as the European Parliament decided to adopt a regulation that would protect personal data online.
Soon, a number of data privacy laws emerged across the globe, following the example made by the European Union. The importance of this law lies in the fact that users gained better rights for their data while companies had to change their operations.
Companies have to limit the type of data that they are collecting, and they can be prosecuted if the data gets hacked or misused. Regardless of whether this was the mistake of the company or a hacker, the company takes on the responsibility of leaking data.
This is why it’s important to implement advanced measures that will protect user data from both internal and external problems. Failing to do so can result in significant fines or blows to your reputation, leading to lowered popularity and, eventually, profits.
1. Strong Password Requirements
One of the most important aspects of internet security is understanding how to create a strong password. Unfortunately, many websites aren’t bothering to ensure that their users are properly protected on the internet.
A strong and random password that consists of 8 or more characters, as well as upper and lower-case letters, symbols, and numbers, should be the standard password requirement. You can feel free to expand on these requirements.
Another useful way of protecting user data is encouraging them to use single sign-in methods that make the login process passwordless and automated. This increases credential harvesting cyber security, ensuring that hackers can’t harm users through keyloggers or similar methods.
Overall, strong password requirements protect users from having their accounts accessed by wrongdoers. You can go a step further and forbid users from using commonly leaked and used passwords.
Strong password requirements should also be encouraged within your company. If a manager with access to sensitive information gets their account hacked, it can lead to all kinds of different problems.
2. SSL Certificate
An essential part of website security is the use of an SSL certificate. SSL is one of the most important security protocols since its development in the 90s. This protocol ensures that the information transmitted between the user and the website and between the website and the web server is encrypted.
Without this protocol, if someone gets their hands on the traffic between the user and the website, they can easily read all the transmitted information. SSL certificate ensures that no wrongdoers can access sensitive information.
Furthermore, the lack of this protocol can negatively impact your ranking on search engines and even push away some users from using your website.
3. Strong Cybersecurity Measures
Cybersecurity within your company should always be an important priority. Compared to password requirements and an SSL certificate, this strategy can require an investment.
Whether you hire a cybersecurity expert who will audit your company or implement secure hardware, strong cybersecurity can prevent hackers from accessing sensitive information. There are two main differences in the approaches regarding this method.
Hosting Your Own Website
When you’re hosting your own website, you can expect a lot more work than if you subscribe to hosting. However, this gives you a lot more opportunities and control over the data that you’re handling.
It would be troublesome if your user data is hosted on a third-party server, which is why many companies opt for their own infrastructure. To ensure that the data is handled correctly, you will have to hire the proper personnel, and also spend money on the proper equipment required to handle such processes.
Choosing a Web Hosting
In case you have a small business and are purchasing and maintaining your own servers is too big of a hassle, finding a good web hosting is a totally legitimate method. While you won’t have complete control over your data, you will have fewer costs.
However, you should certainly do extensive research on the different options that you have. Some hostings are known for suffering security breaches in the past, while others offer additional cybersecurity services for their users.
Furthermore, be careful with web hosting companies that don’t have a lot of reviews or users.
4. Regular Updates
Regardless of your content-management system or the plugins that your using, regular updates should be a common practice in your personal and private life. Software updates often bring fixes for vulnerabilities and bugs.
Certain versions of WordPress, for example, have security vulnerabilities that can be exploited. Updating to the latest, or at least the most stable, version of the software is beneficial for your security.
In the context of safeguarding user data, outdated software can lead to hackers getting access to data that they aren’t supposed to because of flawed software versions. Furthermore, you should hide the software version that you’re using.
5. Adequate User and Employee Privileges
A pretty much obvious method for protecting your business is being careful with user privileges and permissions. Depending on the network that you’re using and the way in which these privileges are executed, they can pose a risk.
For example, shared accounts are often problematic, since multiple users of different levels can use them. While managers will have some obligations and transparency, a junior employee might exploit the knowledge or tools that they are using.
User privileges are also an important aspect of handling. For example, users who mistakenly get privileges that are too powerful can delete someone else’s account or sabotage other users.
6. Data Minimization Methods
As a part of adhering to data privacy regulations, you should allow users to customize which data they are comfortable with sharing. However, just because users are ready to share their birthdays doesn’t mean that you should collect this.
In case of a data breach, you will have responsibilities that are tied to the amount of data that you’ve gathered. The larger the data, the more problems you will have with handling and storing it according to the regulations.
Do an audit of your operations and strategies and decide which types of data is essential for your efforts and which aren’t.
7. Use Security Plugins
With the digital industry growing, new websites keep emerging. Along with them, plugins that streamline different processes are becoming more common. Important types of plugins are certainly security plugins.
If you can’t afford to hire professional cybersecurity experts, implementing an adequate security plugin can help you boost your website’s security. Since there are various plugins in this category, they can help you tackle many of the vulnerabilities that your website could have.
Plugins can certainly help with protecting user information directly and indirectly.
Safeguarding User Information Is Essential For Businesses
Businesses that don’t implement the proper measures to protect their users are exposing themselves to becoming overrun by their competition. We’ve already gone through all the downsides in terms of fines, but individuals simply have more respect for companies that take care of their privacy.
Strategies from this list vary in their complexity and cost. While it’s highly advisable to utilize as many of them as possible, some businesses simply don’t have the resources or personnel to do that. Pick your battles, and understand which of these methods can bring you the most benefits.
Remember that the amount that one would spend on strategies such as better cybersecurity measures or security plugins may cost you, but this amount is often smaller than fines for breaking GDPR or CCPA.
Veljko is a student of information technology who paired his passion for technology with his writing skills. He is an emerging specialist in cybersecurity having completed courses in the field and written for popular blogs in the industry. His hobbies include weightlifting, reading history, and classic literature.