The Most Important Question You MUST Ask Every Service Provider You Deal With
Have you asked your doctor, lawyer, or accountant about their data security policy lately? Have you ever asked about it at all? If you haven’t talked to your service-providers about keeping your data safe, the time to start is now.
How One Simple Question Could Prevent You From Being Scammed By Cybercriminals
There’s no getting around it anymore – our personal data is largely stored and transmitted virtually. No matter what kind of service provider you’re dealing with, there’s a pretty certain chance that they keep a virtual file containing all of your personal information. Let’s face it; the days of on-paper records are pretty much obsolete. These days, no matter where you go to receive financial, legal, or health services, the personal data you’re required to provide is stored, accessed, and transmitted in an online environment.
There is no way to overstate just how much convenience this virtualization has generated. 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.
Do you know what the number one target for cybercrime is nowadays? It’s the virtually-stored personal information of individuals like you. So while virtualization has made your life more convenient, it’s also put you at a significantly increased risk of data theft. 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 we’re putting our cybersecurity expertise to work by helping individuals be more vigilant and proactive about the protection of their data.
Asking Service Providers This ONE Critical Question Helps Protect Your Personal Data
Here’s a question we like to ask the clients we work with. When’s the last time you asked your doctor, lawyer, or accountant about their client data security policy? Don’t worry – if you’ve never thought to ask this question, you’re not alone. Most individuals hand over their personal information to trusted service-providers without giving it a second thought.
We’re trying to change that. The reality is, we hear horror stories all the time about individuals and organizations who have had their sensitive data hacked or exploited by malicious cybercriminals. But we want individuals to know that you don’t need to just sit around waiting to be hacked. When armed with the right information, you can take charge of your data security. How? Start by asking service providers the right questions about data security.
It doesn’t have to be a huge deal, either. When you start working with a service provider, just have an upfront and direct conversation with them before you 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.
It might feel awkward to have a conversation about data security with a doctor, lawyer, or financial advisor – especially one that you’ve known and trusted for a long time. However, 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 confrontational or overly complicated, and good service providers will welcome your questions.
It’s really this simple: 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.
The Cybercrime Target is On Your Back: Why Service Providers Must be Held 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.
Did you know that service providers in most industries are required to maintain strict industry and government compliance standards when it comes to cybersecurity? Additionally, they also must have clear and strict policies in place to protect your information. These policies and compliance standards should be made available to you so you understand exactly what organizations are doing to maintain a secure and compliant data environment.
You might be wondering why these organizations are so highly regulated and why they’re held to such 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.
Here’s why you need to hold service providers accountable for your data security:
- 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 adopting 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.
That’s the reality – cybercriminals have now stopped targeting major organizations in favor of targeting YOU. So, 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.
Cybercrime is Scary But Being Prepared & Informed is Your Best Defense
We understand that you might be feeling discouraged or bogged down by the significant threats you’re up against. Don’t stress – here are a few final words of advice. Above all, remember 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.
Also, you should know that 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.
The ultimate defense against cybercriminals and data theft is to stay consistently over-informed and remain consistently over-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.
Need support building up your line of defense? Give us a call anytime at (866) 339-0959, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit our website at www.menark.com to chat with a live agent and book a data security consultation.