Best Practices for Ethical and Secure Handling of Sensitive Information

Best Practices for Ethical and Secure Handling of Sensitive Information

Written by Sophie Robertson, In Cybersecurity, Updated On
March 11th, 2023

It would be accurate to say that data has become one of the most important assets in the world. For businesses, data is used to make better decisions and thus increase productivity and profitability. However, no matter where you get your data gathering analytics, it is vital to understand the privacy rules and regulations. Therefore, they recommend following these handy tips above and beyond what the law requires.

5 Best Practices for Ethical and Secure Handling of Sensitive Information

Best Practices for Ethical and Secure Handling of Sensitive Information

So, keep reading below for knowing in detail about this:

Store The Most Sensitive Data Offline

When someone else’s confidential data is in your hands, it can be a big responsibility. The responsibility becomes even greater when talking about sensitive information like credit card numbers, bank account numbers, etc. As such, you need to be cautious about storing that data. Sure, you might not have bad intentions for this information, but what about the rest of the internet?

For these reasons, you should store your most sensitive data offline. External hard drives are a good investment, or you could store them on a machine that is incapable of accessing the internet. If you go with that second option, make sure that it’s truly not capable by removing the Wi-Fi card. Also, keep that data under lock and key to prevent anyone from gaining unauthorized physical access.

Use Outside Help To Ensure Compliance

When you are handling sensitive information, there are a lot of laws and regulations that must be considered. Failing to comply with any of these could result in many consequences. Thus, you and your organization should consider the possibility of external auditing, which will help you in the long run.

Many companies use “web scraping” software for online data collection from publicly available sources. Sometimes, however, it can gather up data that isn’t meant to be public. Thus, it is good to choose a web scraping platform that offers compliance monitoring, like this one.

Don’t Retain Too Much

You will probably be gathering a lot of information from the web. Although this is good, you can keep some things. Also, keeping all that data will create problems with both storage and security.

The more sensitive data you have to protect, the more hardware and labor will be required. So with that in mind, try to pre-sort your data before it is placed in long-term storage. Not only will this save you some money, but it will also make security matters easier.

Use VPNs And Network Monitoring When Gathering

They’ve talked a lot about the storage phase but not a lot about the gathering phase. When you are gathering all this data, you should understand that risks are present from the start. As soon as you find that information, there is a chance that someone else could intercept and steal its contents.

This is why you should always take precautions when gathering sensitive data (or any useful data, for that matter). This means using a VPN to obscure your IP address and location. The use of firewalls and router-level protection is also recommended. However, if you really want to be sure, you need an expert to monitor the network traffic in real-time. That way, any suspicious activity can be noticed and countered quickly.

Keep Everything On A “Need To Know” Basis

It is recommended that you borrow a page from the U.S. Government. Regarding classified information, they have a policy of limiting such info on a “need to know” basis. This means that the information will only be given out when necessary. In a business setting, you give people the information they need to do their jobs and no more.

When in doubt, excessive caution is the best policy to follow here. Sensitive information can cause a lot of trouble in the wrong hands, so you owe it to yourselves and others to handle that information properly.

Anything less would be morally wrong and also illegal. Apart from these suggestions, make sure that you are familiar with the data protection laws in your specific area. You must have enjoyed this article and learned a few things.

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