You Should Be Asking This Critical Question to ALL Service Providers You Work With
In today’s day and age, most service providers house your personal information online. While many people don’t think of it, there is an essential question you should be asking service providers before you hand over any personal information.
Protecting Your Data: Why You Should be Asking Service Providers How They Keep Client Data Secure
We live in a world that is increasingly virtual. Whether you’re at the bank, the doctor’s office, or your accountant’s firm, the days of on-paper records are all-but obsolete. The reality is, no matter where you go to receive financial, legal, or health services, chances are at some point you’re going to have to hand over personal information and that personal data is more than likely to be stored, accessed, and transmitted in an online environment.
There’s no denying that this virtualization has brought massive benefits. Sharing information is much easier and gone are the days of having to fax or mail important documents or data to service providers. Because of this, services are often more streamlined and long wait-times have been greatly reduced. While service providers and clients have both reaped the benefits of this innovation, there is a significantly increased risk in storing and transmitting sensitive and confidential data online.
Even though service providers are usually operating in relatively secure virtual environments, cybercriminals are increasingly trying to exploit the personal data of individuals with malicious intent. The increased risk is enough to make you nostalgic for the days when your records were kept safely in a locked filing cabinet. However, as virtualization continues to dominate, it’s highly unlikely that a return to more secure, on-paper personal records will ever be possible or desirable. That’s why, as a team of cybersecurity professionals, we’re on a mission to help individuals be more vigilant and proactive to make sure their data security is taken seriously by every service provider they interact with.
Protect Your Data Proactively with This One MUST-ASK Question
We’re in the business of cybersecurity. As a result, we hear stories all the time about individuals and organizations who have had their sensitive data hacked or exploited by malicious cybercriminals. As part of our mission to inform the public about data security risks, we’ve decided to put together a brief guide that will empower individuals to take their data security into their own hands. The truth is, individuals, do not need to wait until their personal information is exploited to start taking data security more seriously.
The trick is to have an upfront and direct conversation with service providers any time you are required to hand over sensitive data of any kind. This might include the personal information you hand over to a lawyer, the financial information you hand over to a bank or accountant, the health records you hand over to a healthcare provider, or really, the sensitive data you’re required to hand over to any service provider you’re involved with.
While it might seem daunting or awkward to have a conversation about data security with a doctor, lawyer, or financial advisor, it’s absolutely critical that you make sure service providers understand that you take your data security seriously. Further, the conversation doesn’t have to be daunting or overly complicated.
Here’s our advice. Anytime you’re working with a service provider who requires your personal data to be stored and transmitted, ask them one simple question before handing over any data: “how are you going to protect my personal and confidential information?” It’s really that simple to keep the lines of communication open. Still not convinced it’s worth the effort? Keep reading to understand why this is so important.
The New Target is You: Why Holding Service Providers Accountable is Your Best Defense
Being upfront and direct with service providers about the importance of your data security isn’t just about mitigating risk – it’s about holding service providers accountable. Cybersecurity and data protection is a critical responsibility that rests on the shoulders of any business, organization, or service provider that you work with. Regardless of the industry or the services they provide you, service providers are required to take reasonable measures to ensure client data remains secure.
In fact, many of these service providers are required to maintain strict industry and government cybersecurity compliance and they must have clear and strict policies in place to protect your information. These policies and compliance regulations should be made available to you so you understand exactly what organizations are doing to maintain a secure and compliant data environment.
Wondering why these organizations are so highly regulated and held to high standards when it comes to data security? Check out some of the key reasons why individual data security is such a pressing concern – especially in an increasingly virtual service environment.
Here’s a breakdown of how individuals like you have become the prime targets for cybercriminals:
- Hackers and cybercriminals are getting smarter and savvier than ever before – they are constantly evolving and developing new strategies for getting their hands on the most valuable data in the virtual world.
- Whereas malicious cybercriminals used to target big organizations for huge payoffs, they’re now realizing that organizations have the resources to invest in durable and multi-layered cybersecurity defenses that are increasingly difficult to penetrate.
- The result? Cybercriminals are adapting and following the money. They now realize that there’s more success to be enjoyed if individual end-consumers are targeted instead of highly-defended enterprises.
- This means more and more cybercriminals are trying to use a variety of scams and blackmail attempts to target people like you: consumers who unwittingly hand over personal and confidential data to critical service providers in good faith.
- Let’s explore what this might look like. Say a cybercriminal hacks into the network for a law firm, doctor’s office, accounting firm, or any other service provider that stores and transmits your personal data. Instead of going after the business itself by trying to penetrate enterprise-grade cybersecurity solutions in pursuit of a million-dollar payoff, they’re now focused on targeting the individual clients of these service providers.
- Why? Largely because they know that it’s much easier to prey on unsuspecting individual victims by blackmailing them with the demand for cash in exchange for promising not to release confidential data. These cybercriminals realize there is a better chance of getting multiple smaller payouts from desperate and frightened individuals instead of one big pay-off from the company that is investing in major resources and training to prevent cybercrime.
As you can see, it is absolutely critical that you make sure the service providers you work with have taken your individual data security into account. While they may be spending thousands of dollars bringing in expert solutions to protect their own data and business continuity, asking them to explain how your own data will be protected demonstrates that you’re not willing to be the new easy target for the cybercriminals they’re trying to mitigate.
Our Final Advice for Protecting Your Personal Data in an Increasingly Virtual World
We’ve said it already, but we’ll say it again: remember to ask every service provider you work with to explain explicitly how they will make sure your data remains secure. You should also ask them to outline their policy for informing clients in the case of a data breach. The more you insist that service providers be transparent about data security, the more seriously they will take the protection of your personal information.
Be on the lookout for red flags. Any service provider who refuses to answer your questions or gives you vague information about their approach to data security should be immediately suspect. The fact of the matter is, in an increasingly virtual environment, there is no room for shortcuts when it comes to data security. If a service provider can’t answer your simple and fair questions, it’s time to find a new lawyer, accountant, healthcare provider, or business partner.
The truth is, when it comes to data security, there is no such thing as being too informed or overly-prepared. Stay informed and up-to-date on existing threats and check-in with service providers now and then to inquire about data security updates. If you need support or want to learn more about how to prioritize your data security and take it seriously, never hesitate to reach out to a team of professional cybersecurity consultants for more information and strategies for staying proactive.
Ready for a crash-course in protecting your personal data? Give us a call anytime at (713) 489-8138, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit our website at www.chacetech.com to chat with a live agent and book a data security consultation.
At ChaceTech, our mission is to provide fast reliable information technology solutions to our customers. We know that your time is valuable and that being satisfied with our services is paramount. We strive to fulfill your every need when it comes to your Information Technology environment. ChaceTech is your next Houston managed IT services company.