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5 Tips To Keep Your Client's Data Safe

By Nan de Bruin

Published 17 May 2021

Apps, wearables, online training- our dependence on technology is higher than ever before.

It is not just our online presence that is growing; the internet is collecting more and more data on our personal lives!

This makes it tricky for gyms and personal trainers to maintain client confidentiality.

While having access to a wealth of client information is extremely useful for tailored client experiences, big data brings big responsibility.

How Do We Collect Client Data?

We rode a digitalization wave during the pandemic, turning to online platforms to keep our services active.

With this meant online sign-ups, fitness apps, and membership portals-all of which require the constant collection of client data.

This means client information is digital, stored in the cloud, and potentially widely available.

You might be wondering what data we are talking about.

Standard data (names, addresses, banking information, and phone numbers) might seem obvious, but we now collect information on everything– sleep, heart rate, blood pressure, running times…the list goes on.

The Facts

Unfortunately, cybercrime is now a worldwide concern.

Telstra Cyber Security reported that 60% of Asian enterprises faced security breaches per month!

In addition, Microsoft engineers reported that99.9% of account compromises could have been blocked with multi-factor authentication (MFA) solutions.

And it is easily done!

Common data breaches are as simple as incorrect handling of credit cards, leaving client information in plain sight, and front of house leaving computers unlocked.

So how do we get more cyber-savvy? 

Here Are 5 Ways to Keep Client Data Safe 

1. Get Password Protected

Securing client data makes any company more trustworthy and will breed loyalty amongst clients.

One way of doing this is using MFA solutions and complex passwords.

This may seem like common sense, but using a password is no longer enough.

Password tips for protecting gym members data:

  • Encourage clients to use complex passwords, using a mix of both letters and numbers
  • Advise clients not to duplicate passwords elsewhere
  • Set an expiry on passwords to ensure clients change their passwords every 3-6 months.
  • Enable MFA’s to add an extra layer of protection. This also means clients can confirm it really is them attempting to log in.

 

2. Stay Updated

Unfortunately, hackers are smart.

They can often use client data to exploit out-of-date software on just about any device!

According to MacAfee, making sure your company is up-to-date with all apps, computers, and software, is a vital security step.

We all know how easy it is to avoid long (and boring) updates when we are busy.

However, many breaches of data occur when hackers find a hole in the system- your software!

The Windowssecurity system was compromised from simply missing an update.

Selecting auto-update on your devices is a quick and easy way to make sure you are up to date, without the stress.

3. Choose Your Access Wisely

It is important to decide who needs access to client data in your business.

According to Security Intelligence, 95% of security incidents involve human error!

Be selective.

According to the 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report, error was found to be a casual event in 21% of breaches with misdelivery and human error coming out tops in many breaches.

Some examples of human error include:

  • Sync and share (cloud-based) apps
  • Mis-sending of unencrypted emails
  • Phishing emails.

Social engineering, known as phishing, is extremely common.

Most of us have seen phishing emails-

An ‘urgent’ email comes in from someone requesting huge sums of money, or we receive a call from an automated system.

These are normally easy to spot, but some are more clever than others.

Top Tip:

Educate staff on what to expect and how to recognize a scam.

Not sure how?

According to CMI, presentations and employee inductions are a fuss-free technique to increase awareness and eliminate risk.

You might also want to consider encryption emails- just in case!

4. Create A Cybersecurity Culture

Maintaining cybersecurity isn’t a one-time thing; we all need to be constantly up-to-date when it comes to protecting our online presence.

However, in a busy world, it is easy to see how we might drop the ball.

Review Practices

Ensure you review practices periodically and provide refresher courses and quarterly presentations to employees; this prevents bad habits from sneaking in and helps to keep everyone safe.

Get Collaborative

Make your team feel accountable!

Mock exams and discussion forums are engaging ways to get the point across.

Report Back

Employee reporting can help identify anyone who might be struggling and could benefit from further education or support.

5. Get Hiring

It might seem obvious, but building a strong security team is your best bet.

If you want to take your security to the next level, hiring a consultant or cybersecurity expert could be your answer.

This means someone is in place to keep your business safe, allowing you to concentrate on everything else!

Hiring is particularly useful if you are a large company, or you are looking to expand.

The Pros Of Hiring A Cyber Expert

ISACA’S State of Cybersecurity 2020 research found that 62% of companies’ cybersecurity teams were understaffed.

Remember, the job of your IT team is broader than security, whose sole purpose is protection!

Make sure you are covered from all angles.

Hiring externally or upskilling some of your existing IT team are both effective ways of keeping your finger on the pulse.

Quick Tip:

Moving to a dedicated server is a quick security fix that anyone can make!

If other companies on a shared server don’t prioritize security, it could compromise you; moving to your own server removes that risk.

The Bottom Line

As fitness operators, the onus is on us to protect our clients.

As a business, it is crucial to identify what steps you must take to help keep data safe.

Showing clients that you care fosters trust and loyalty and can ultimately make or break retention.

Nan de Bruin

Visual storyteller and winter sports enthusiast

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