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03:44 PM
Keith Ferrell
Keith Ferrell

Top Tips For Preventing Identity Theft

Your customers' and clients' private information should be as important to you as their business -- and should be protected just as carefully, according to a new book on identity theft prevention techniques. Take a look at the top tips below.

Your customers' and clients' private information should be as important to you as their business -- and should be protected just as carefully, according to a new book on identity theft prevention techniques. Take a look at the top tips below.Jim Stickley's The Truth About Identity Theft, out in paperback the first of September, includes nugget after nugget of good information about how to make sure your customers' data remains their and, just as important, if it does get lost it wasn't you or any of your employees who lost it.

Among the top tips:

Only ask for the customer information you need; extra information creates extra risk and in the case of some date such as Social Security numbers, the request may actually be illegal.

Encrypt all data on your computers and, crucially, encrypt all archival backups.

If you backup your own data, store the backup tape or disc in a secure place: a bank safety deposit box, for instance.

Enable firewall protection on your computers.

Patch all systems as soon as patches become available: delay equals increased risk.

Insist that all passwords be at least 10 characters, mixing numbers and letters in random fashion (don't use recognizable words, however obscure) and include at least one random symbol (the @ # $ % % & and so on above the numeral keys.)

Test the strength of your passwords at qqq.microsoft.com/protect/yourself/password/checker.mspx

If you do have a data breach inform your customers at the same time you inform all other parties (financial institutions, law enforcement agencies.) Don't make things worse by waiting.

Plenty more in the book, all of it good advice from a recognized breach expert.

Might add another tip: have your employees read Jim Stickley's book.

Some audio samples are available here.

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