Welcome to the digital age – a place where information flows very fast and where the internet is a tool people use on a daily basis. Now, the internet has brought us many positive things like the freedom of exploring endless amounts of information, the ability to communicate with people all around the world, etc. However, as you look deeper into the whole idea of the internet you will realize that your data privacy might not be as safe as you would think. That is why, in this article, we will talk about a PII compliance checklist for businesses and talk a little bit about how you can protect your private information online.

What is PII?

PII is an acronym that stands for Personal Identifiable Information. This is used by many different websites and search engines to identify the person who is using the internet via a current account. The PII can contain such information as:

  • The street address of the user
  • Full name
  • IP address
  • E-mail address
  • Social security number, etc.

PII leaks can severely damage the reputation of the company from which database it was taken

Basically, it is a tool to recognize who is using the internet at the current moment. The protection of this information is something that is seeing a growing concern in our community. Namely, protecting your personal information online is something most people strive for in the past couple of years. If PII falls into hands of cybercriminals and other people with malicious intent it can severely damage the privacy of the individual – such as identity theft or credit card scams. However, when PII is in danger regarding business it can create a much bigger threat. Other than damaging the reputation of the company, it can lead employees and the employee into a serious problem. Namely, leakage of PII can make certain company details and information public and damage the business.

What is the difference between PII and Personal Data?

The main difference between PII and personal data is the way it can be used to collect information. For instance, PII can be used to indirectly match the person with the account they are using. On the other hand, personal data on the other hand is a much broader term which represents all the pieces of information an individual places on the internet. Therefore, by damaging your personal data, the cybercriminal is directly gaining information from you. Due to cybercriminals lurking online, on an individual level PII can be used with personal data to create a much more accurate picture of the user.

PII compliance checklist for businesses

On a business level, PII gathering may severely damage your company’s name and trust with the people. On the other hand, it will pose a serious threat to the company’s financial status as heavy fines are often issued for illegal use of PII. With that in mind, businesses will have to be careful with these types of information. Here, we present a PII compliance checklist for businesses you should consider:

  1. Make sure that the PII you store is in a safe environment
  2. Do the research on the law for PII and make sure you follow it
  3. Create safeguards – policies and procedures to protect the PII organization level
  4. Build awareness to focus on protecting the PII
  5. Encrypt all databaseswhere PII is stored
  6. Make data anonymous online and offline
  7. Make sure the data privacy policies are up-to-date at all times

Why is protecting customer PII important?

To a person who runs a small business this might not seem like a real issue. However, as we progress further and see all of the big-tech companies we realize how valuable our data is to them. Namely, after several tech-giants admitted to collecting personal information of users online – the government decided to place a law to protect that. This is exactly why it is important that you guard all the PII your company gathers. Information is the biggest currency online and without anyone protecting it we would live in a dystopia.

PII can help cybercriminals pull out even more information about the user than by gathering personal data

However, PII is not only something you should protect from big-tech giants. Cybercriminals such as hackers or phishers value any private information they can get their hands on. This will not only endanger the user if leaked, but also the company the hackers stole it from. Therefore, if you own a business and want to protect both yourself and the user – consult our PII compliance checklist and see how you can protect this information.

How can PII leak outside of the database?

If a company, regardless if big or small, does not have adequate safeguards for the PII their leaks could endanger both the company and the user. So, how can one get his hands on PII?

  • Employee negligence – The employee may, by accident, leak PII from the server. For instance, an employee might send encrypted emailto the wrong person. This person can then use this information to damage the user or the company.
  • Threats from the inside – An employee might be sent from the outside to collect PII or maybe do it out of anger towards the company management.
  • External attacks – This usually applies to cybercriminals around the world. They attack networks that have weak protections and pull out any information they can.

If any of these situations happen, the company will be in serious trouble. For instance, the company might get legal penalties, depending on how many laws they have violated. Another way is that this could be seen as breach of information which can shut down the company due to investigation. Lastly, it will severely damage the reputation of the company making customers lose trust in it and employees leaving.

By consulting with our PII compliance checklist for businesses you will have an approximate overview of what you should look out for. Of course, you should always do some more research and consult with legal authorities on how to tackle this issue even further.

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