Do You Know How Your Service Providers Are Keeping Your Personal Data Safe?

The way of the world is increasingly virtual. No matter what kind of services you’re receiving, chances are providers have some online record of your personal information. Did you know this makes you a major target for cybercrime and data theft? Here’s what to do about it.

Reduce Your Risk of Data Theft By Asking Service Providers This One Critical Question

When’s the last time you visited a service provider that keeps a hand-written file of your personal information secured away in a locked filing cabinet? Let’s face it. The days of on-paper records are nearly obsolete. Even if providers still keep things on paper, they without a doubt have a virtual copy too. These days, no matter where you go to receive financial, legal, or health services, chances are the personal data you’re required to provide is stored, accessed, and transmitted in an online environment.

Don’t get us wrong, this increase in virtualization has made life easier in major ways. 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.

As more data gets stored and transmitted online, cybercriminals are increasingly trying to exploit the personal data of individuals with malicious intent. 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 an experienced team of IT security professionals, we’re on a mission to help individuals be more vigilant and proactive by making sure their data security is taken seriously by every service provider they interact with.

Getting Proactive About Data Security: The One Critical Question To Ask Service Providers

Let’s be real. Chances are you’ve probably never thought to ask service providers about data security. Don’t worry – you’re not alone. Most individuals hand over their personal information to trusted service-providers without giving it a second thought. Unfortunately, however, we hear stories all the time about individuals and organizations who have had their sensitive data hacked or exploited by malicious cybercriminals. However, it’s not all doom and gloom.

Here’s the good news though: you do not need to wait until their personal information is exploited to start taking data security more seriously. When armed with the right information, you can take charge of your data security. How? Start by making your concerns known right out of the gate.

It’s all about having 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.

Even though it might feel 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 the best advice we can offer. 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.

Cybercriminals Want Your Data & Service Providers Are Responsible for Keeping It Secure

Asking this proactive question to service providers about the importance of your data security is about mitigating risk – but 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.

The majority of these service providers are required to maintain strict industry and government cybersecurity compliance standards 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.

How you became the number one target for savvy 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.

The moral of the story? Even though service providers may be spending thousands of dollars to bring in expert solutions and protect their own data and business continuity, it doesn’t guarantee that your data is secure. 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.

Some Final Words of Advice on Protecting Your Personal Data

Don’t forget, it’s important 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.

WARNING: 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.

Our motto is that 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 cybersecurity consultants for more information and strategies for staying proactive.

We can help with all things data security. Give us a call anytime at (409) 724-0440, or visit our website at www.ntwo.com to chat with a live agent and book a data security consultation.