Client confidentiality is one of the most important parts of business ethics. If there so happens to be a breach, fatal consequences to your business are due to occur. Client confidentiality isn’t built on the client or the information they have shared—it is built on trust. There are professions that prioritize client confidentiality more than others, including the likes of lawyers, financial service providers, and health care workers.
Usually, maintaining confidentiality means maintaining your balance between the fast-paced and extremely demanding nature of your work. In this ever-evolving world, people must learn how to be organized, adaptive, and cautious when given the opportunity to handle client information. Nowadays, unfortunately, keeping your mouth shut isn’t the number one option for protecting your data.
What is Client Confidentiality?
Client confidentiality is a fundamental rule among institutions and individuals stating that they must not share a client’s information with a third party without the consent of the client or a legal reason. Normally, access to a client’s data is only between the workplace and the customer or client.
However, it could also be limited to law enforcement agencies—requiring legal procedures to get a hold of the information. This applies to the likes of bank accounts, medical records, and even therapy sessions. So to speak, confidential information gathered by lawyers, psychiatrists, and even priests should never be revealed to third parties.
How to Protect Client Confidentiality
1. Use a secure file-sharing and messaging platform
Protecting client confidentiality starts inside the company—not when everything’s down in the dumps already. Using a secure file-sharing and messaging platform like TitanFile avoids or mitigates the risk of an information breach, and this should be the first step for companies that hold a handful of confidential data—especially if this data is only shared between a select number of people.
Usually, these secure platforms are combined together with security protocols such as encryption, two-factor authentication, and storage on secured data centers. However, sending files over the internet has been proven risky. With the rise of social media, unsafe networks, and phishing emails roaming around the worldwide web, these platforms have never been more important.
2. Store Physical Documents in an Environment with Controlled Access
Sure, technological advancements have eliminated some of the most tedious physical tasks inside an organization. However, one rule still applies: keeping clients’ files in a secure space with controlled access. Always make sure that you and your team members never leave documents at arm’s reach with unauthorized personnel. Physical documents must always be labeled—and that also goes for online folders. If anything, these labels will let you know which is which, and which is more important.
3. Comply with Industry Regulations (SOC-2, HIPAA, PIPEDA)
These three industry regulations work hand-in-hand to secure a client’s data. SOC-2 is the more foundational ordinance as it is the framework used by all technology services or SaaS companies, entailing them to store customer data in a secure file-sharing platform to guarantee organizational controls while also practicing effective safeguarding of the privacy of the client.
The narrative for professionals working in the healthcare, accounting, legal, or insurance industries, however, includes complying with regulations such as HIPAA and PIPEDA. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is mandated to protect the privacy of the patient’s information in the United States of America. It states that access to data facilities and devices is restricted.
PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act), on the other hand, regulates the collection, usage, and disclosure of data by the private sector in for-profit or commercial activities in Canada. It appropriately designates the protection of a client’s information according to how sensitive it is. Either way, this data must be protected from breaches and any forms of unauthorized disclosures.
Both acts state that organizations must be responsible for guaranteeing the protection and modernization of security measures to furthermore protect client confidentiality.
4. Host Routine Security Training for Staff
Routine security training belongs to this list for a reason. With the current situation of the world with the pandemic, people are more stressed than ever. For cybercriminals, this is the perfect time for attacks—such as phishing, pharming, and breaching your clients’ data head-on. Staff security training is hosted to educate employees on how these attacks work, and how they can be detrimental to the life and death of the company—especially the trust founded in you by your clients.
While we’re on the topic of employees, make sure to follow proper employee screening and background checks on potential staff members. Before granting them access to clients’ information inside the company, factors such as a criminal background check, drug tests, credit check, and even radical views might be helpful to you and the company in the long run. There are instances where people who have problems with addiction and sex are more vulnerable to ethical lapses and bribery. Just make sure that, ethically, everything is aligned.
5. Stay Alert of New Security Threats
Stay alert and never be too overconfident with your cybersecurity. Year after year, cybercriminals have found more and more ways to breach systems to get a hold of client information. Remain vigilant, and always keep everyone in the loop. Besides, an alert company is better than an alert individual.
Plus, the business world is becoming dependent on the digital structure. For the past couple of years, it is but imperative for organizations to stay aware of modern cybersecurity threats while also preserving power to prevent or, worse, use a response plan for attacks. Familiarizing yourself and the company with the most infamous cybersecurity issues is one of the best ways to set in motion your defense of client information. Who knows? Your radar might be the weapon that saves your company.
6. Utilize Up-to-Date Security Technology
You might think it isn’t much, but security technology serves as your first barrier of defense against breachers for client information. The likes of anti-malware and anti-virus are essential programs to protect both your company and client confidentiality. Just as much as vaccines work against viruses, these security technologies work all the same.
Organizations must keep their programs updated and, just to be sure, always scheduled for updates. However, having these tools does not guarantee a breach-free environment because let’s face it, cybercriminals are working tirelessly to perfect their methods. Let’s just hope these anti-malware and anti-virus systems work harder. Although, let us not undermine the importance of these defenses. Getting them and keeping them up-to-date, while also acquiring revamped defenses to your systems, are great starts and foundational pieces to protect client confidentiality.