How Can SMEs Implement and Communicate a Strong Data Policy to Customers?

The possibility of being targeted and attacked by cyber criminals is a problem that everybody has to face, but some are at more risk than others. According to a Cybercrime study, around 43% of cyber attacks are targeted solely on small businesses, with only 14% of accounted SMEs prepared to face such attacks. 

If you’re running a small business, this is undoubtedly a concerning statistic, not least because 60% of small businesses actually go out of business only six months after an attack takes place. But this is why it is so important to integrate strong data policies in 2023. 

A lot of the time, the reason these businesses have to close up shop is because the data that has been breached belongs to their own customers. With sites like Incogni now giving power to internet users to choose what happens to their data, consumers around the world are more aware of data usage and how it is being used. They have the ability to protect their data and take it back into their own hands, and if companies do not have the same ethic as them, then they will look elsewhere to do business. 

The lack of this ethic has historically been revealed by these cyber breaches, but, similarly, you need to take your business’s future into your own hands. The way to do that is ensuring a data breach cannot be reputationally damaging, and the way to do that is through a strong data policy, and a building of trust between you and your customers.

Developing and Implementing Data Policies 

There are a few key things your company needs to focus on when developing and implementing a strong data policy.  The first is building a data governance team – an internal team that will work to manage data governance and attain support across all departments and operations. This policy must be in line with GDPR or any local governance policy. 

You also need to establish performance metrics, ensuring that you have a way to monitor adherence to the policy, and review the performance regularly.  Establishing data quality controls and a data catalogue will help you to stay on top of how your business is operating, and it will also help you to stay up to date with the latest cybersecurity methods – with cyber attackers upgrading their tools and tactics year-on-year, cybersecurity is a constantly evolving field that you have to keep your finger on the pulse of. 

Communicating Data Policies with Customers

Next, you need to communicate this policy with your customers. This is mainly done through transparency. When a consumer interacts with your business, they need to quickly become aware of your cybersecurity goals – how you are going to use their data and what you are going to do to protect it. 

You also need to update your communication along with your security – if there are new procedures or changes to the policy, this needs to be communicated directly with your consumers, ensuring they know that both your interests are still aligned.

Awareness and Education For Businesses and Their Customers

The important thing is not only to be aware and educated on privacy policies – and how to implement them – but to communicate this awareness to build trust. 

When it comes to this landscape, business transparency is important for several reasons, but cybersecurity is perhaps the most pressing. If a consumer knows that you are doing everything you can to protect data, then they will know that you’re prioritising their safety and privacy, this will build a rapport between you that will be hard for any cyber attacker to break.