Hackers and data thieves look for any prime opportunity to gain an advantage over an unsuspecting business owners. You collect your customer information, encrypt it, and believe you’re home free. Unaware that this step is insufficient to protect your form users, you fall victim to a data breach.
You would not secure your credit cards in an RFID purse, then walk through a crowded airport with the bag unzipped. Nor would you head off to work for the day and leave your front door wide open.
But that’s what you’re doing with your data if you don’t initiate stringent standards for data collection.
Taking steps like masking email addresses and encrypting data are fantastic measures, and yes, you should be implementing them. However, those steps fall a few steps short of securing your forms entirely.
Data Breach: A Crime of Opportunity
Here’s an analogy. You bake a fresh, hot batch of chocolate chip cookies. However, you’re not hungry right now, so you put them in the cookie jar to keep them tasting sweet and fresh. Uh-oh, you forgot to put on the lid.
Now, someone who comes along can smell the irresistible fragrance. They decide to swipe all those cookies that you worked so hard to bake. Worse, they plan to eat them all and not share any with you!
Because you didn’t cap the cookie jar, you set yourself up for an enormous disappointment. You partially protected your goodies, but you didn’t wholly secure them. This analogy illustrates precisely what could happen if you don’t secure your data.
Well, we can tell you how to make your online forms even more secure,
so you don’t place your users—or your business—in danger.
Data Breach by the Numbers
Data breach is a crime on the rise. As more businesses rely on e-billing, online payments, and cloud-based apps to streamline processes, they inadvertently expose themselves to this threat.
Don’t take our word for it. The security experts at Norton shared some eye-opening stats about data theft in America (2018).
- By 2023, over half of all data breaches in the world will target Americans
- The United States government recognizes the problem as very real. In fact, they budgeted $15 billion for dealing with the impact of cybercrime in 2019.
- Data breaches often go undetected for some time. It takes an average of 196 days to identify one.
- US companies spend $7.91 million due to cyber attacks
- Americans are targeted by fraudsters more than any other people—38%
- Experts predict that the number of records stolen by cybercriminals will escalate from 12 billion in 33 billion in 2023
Who Bears Responsibility for this Crime?
Victims of data breaches are left exposed to all sorts of vulnerabilities. Sensitive data compromised may include:
- Drivers’ license numbers
- Social security data
- Name change history
- School records
- Medical records
- Phone numbers
- Date of birth
With that client data, internet thieves can gain access to bank records, apply for loans or credit accounts, hold their accounts for ransom, or even sell the information on the dark web.
And guess who bears the ultimate responsibility for this data breach? You—the business owner. All you were trying to do was mind your own business and take care of your business. But always remember this.
You are ultimately the person responsible for securing user data.
While the hacker is the one perpetrating the crime of cyber theft, you will be left with a mess to clean up. This process includes breaking the news of stolen customer data, paying possible fines and legal fees, obtaining credit monitoring for users who had data taken, and implementing stricter protocols.
That might have you thinking back to the good ole days of pencil and paper forms. But, don’t let the thought scare you. The answer isn’t reverting to old procedures—it’s in implementing secure forms. So, take your form security to the next level—the EmailMeForm Vault.
What Forms Are at Risk?
To give an accurate answer to this query, all online forms are in jeopardy—when proper form security is not followed to the letter. But here’s a rule of thumb.
The richer the form is in data, the likelier it is to attract the attention of a cyber-criminal.
Thus, some of the forms that will attract greater interest from a hacker are those that contain credit card data, demographic data, and other sensitive information.
Here are a few examples of some form titles which might pique the interest of a wayward hacker:
- Payment form
- Intake or enrollment form
- New patient form
- Booking form
- New account form
Each of these forms will probably include a blend of personal demographic data and might consist of payment card data that would be used at check-out.
5 Protocols to Help Minimize Your Data Breach Risk
Now we’ve looked at why you should be securing data that you collect. Next, let’s look at the steps you must implement to make your data even more secure.
1 - Set Notification Email Controls
Set notifications that will alert you when action is taken with your forms. This action lets you know when a user takes a specific action such as submitting a form. You will know to check your data manager for form submission by receiving an email alert from EmailMeForm.
It only takes a couple of seconds to set up this feature in your Form Manager. Here is how:
2 - Use Masked Fields
Set masked fields on fields that contain sensitive data on your users. While the data appears as a series of asterisks to any who view, you will find the information in your data manager, all safe and sound when you retrieve it.
It’s easy to do, take a look…
3 - Encrypt Data
Another excellent practice to implement is encrypting data during transmission. In essence, the data is “scrambled” during the time it’s shooting over to you through cyberspace. Like the masked submission, you will be able to retrieve it in Data Manager.
You must set this up during the process of creating a form. You will find the setting in the Field Settings, near the Mask Email option (above).
It’s imperative that you encrypt fields that contain numeric data, demographic info, file uploads, and anything else that could provide data that’s of value to cyber thieves.
Still, that is not sufficient to protect your customer data from hackers…there are two more measures to consider. Read on.
4 - Work with PCI-Certified Partners
You are probably using cloud-based computing services, such as apps, to manage your business. From your accounting processes to online forms and data collection to customer service, it’s the wave of the future.
However, when you are scoping out these services, you must check to see if the provider is PCI-Certified.
This status indicates that the company willingly submitted to rigorous standards and an independent audit performed by the PCI-DSS, Payment Card Industry. If you accept credit cards, you are 100% required to uphold their standards.
So, what’s the safest way to ensure that you meet these expectations? To work only with PCI-certified service provider.
Don’t accept PCI-compliant. That means that a company claims to have the proper measures in place. However, they haven’t passed that audit.
It’s kind of like the cookie jar scenario from earlier. They, too, forgot to close the lid.
5 - Use the EmailMeForm Vault for the Best Data Security
If you are collecting sensitive data like credit card information via online forms, you need to protect that information. Fortunately, we have done the harder parts of this task.
First, we passed our PCI-Certification. As part of that, we implemented The Vault. This is a secure storage space for your data. It’s secured with Multi-factor Authentication (required by PCI).
Multi-factor authentication means that you go beyond a simple log-in and password. To retrieve data, you also authenticate your identity. It only takes an extra split second, and it ensures that you are the one using the client data.
The Vault is essential for online forms that contain any of the sensitive data we mentioned earlier. With Vault and our other stringent security measures, those small business owners who collect credit card data, employee or customer demographic data, or other confidential information have a space to tuck the info away until it’s needed.
The Vault is one of the many strategies we recommend to keep your customer data safe. Furthermore, we don’t mind saying that we are very proud to make this innovative feature available to our clients.
And this feature puts that lid on the cookie jar once and for all. Or until you’re ready to nibble on them, of course.
Ready to Implement Stricter Data Security?
Now that you have brushed up on why and how to implement more stringent data security, there’s no time like the present…get it started!
Do you collect sensitive client data like credit cards? If yes, you should only use a PCI-certified solution like Vault.