Unless you’ve been on a very long sebatical, you’ve probably heard about the recent Facebook/Cambridge Analytica debacle. If you are an entrepreneur, small business owner or web designer, there are lessons that you can learn from what happened here. Here are 5 simple steps you can take immediately, to protect yourself.
It might also be worth the time to read this overview and then have a conversation with your website design agency to ensure your website isn’t exposed to related privacy issues.
Data Privacy Is Serious Business
When website visitors and customers do business with you, data privacy is now probably one of the more important things on their mind. The recent Facebook / Cambridge Analytica fiasco has brought data privacy and security to the forefront of many new website design initiatives. And while you might not think your website is as complex and comprehensive as a social media platform, like Facebook, the data privacy and protection issues are equally important – to your visitors and to Facebook users.
- A website design that doesn’t take data privacy and security seriously, can expose itself to serious data breaches
- As a website owner, failing to maintain the privacy of your clients/visitors’ data can expose you and your company to serious legal action
- Failure to ensure your web designer integrates data protection into his/her design and build, could lead to significant loss of revenue for your company, since visitors and clients will think you aren’t serious about data privacy
Most of all, failure to put data security at the centre of your web site design could lead to a Cambridge Analytica-type incident with your customer’s data or a regular website hacking due to lax website security. Should something like that happen, your customers will lose confidence in your company and website.
Loss of trust for an online business is something that takes years to fix. And while you work with your web design team to address the data privacy issues, your competitors will happily be serving your old clients, potentially converting them into loyal customers of their own.
Your Clients Care About Their Data - So Should You
With data of more than 50 million Facebook users around the world compromised, you would not be faulted for wondering if your web design could expose your customers to a similar fate – but on a smaller scale. Here are a few steps that you can immediately take to protect yourself, while also protecting your visitors and clients:
1) Before you sign-up to work with a website design company, make sure you have established their credentials. Unless you have complete trust in their abilities, it might be a good idea to hold off doing business with them – at least not for a website dealing with sensitive customer information, web shop credit card transactions etc.
3) Make sure that your web design team doesn’t unnecessarily request, collect or store visitor or customer data that doesn’t add value to your website service to the customer. For instance, asking visitors for their date of birth when signing up for an email Newsletter doesn’t make sense – and it exposes your website to a whole slew of privacy-management challenges.
4) Next, take a close look at your web site design and make sure that your company’s policies about data use are easily accessible through multiple access points – Landing Pages, Home Page, About Us…etc. This will ensure that visitors to your site have every opportunity to read and understand what private data you collect, how you protect it, and what your data sharing practices are.
5) Contact your web design agency and ask about their own data protection and privacy policies. Find out how they protect the data from your website, and whether they are protecting your site with the latest antivirus software and firewall tools. Most importantly, ask if they sell or market your data, or that of your customers/visitors, to other 3rd parties.
The fall out from Cambridge Analytica incident will likely plague the web industry for a long time to come. However, website owners shouldn’t wait for that long before they start taking steps to ensure the same fate doesn’t befall them.
If you wish to avoid loss of trust amongst your website users, you need to be proactive and start a conversation with your website design company now.