The third quarter of 2022 saw a whopping number of 108.9 million data breaches. Not only did those data breaches cause big concern for consumers, but they also caused governments to start cracking down on privacy regulations.
One way that businesses can help avoid breaches such as these, and adhere to privacy regulations, is with PII scanning technology. However, there are many other ways that PII scanning can help companies and their growing customer base.
This guide discusses how implementing PII scanning can benefit growing businesses.
What is PII scanning?
PII or Personally Identifiable Information scanning involves privacy protection tools that function to identify, search, and classify essential, personally identifiable information. These details include address names, credit cards, and social security numbers.
After successful PII scanning, the obtained information allows the admin to decide whether the information needs to be moved or encrypted. Regular PII scanning ensures that an organization’s data remains secure and safe from phishing and fraud.
PII scanning was mainly created for organizational compliance, and tools were developed because they could help identify and locate sensitive and personal data. This prevents possible data breaches or, worse, losing essential information.
Benefits of PII scanning for businesses
PII scanning is extremely helpful for businesses internally. Here are a couple of ways that it can benefit organizations from within.
Keeps companies compliant
PII scanning helps simplify data discovery, ensuring your business’s compliance with GPDR, HIPAA, and PCI requirements. With the constant changes in regional and even global requirements, PII scanning ensures your business does not encounter possible risks and liabilities.
One thing to remember is that being compliant with local, state, and regional regulations is critical to your organization. Otherwise, you could run into trouble with the law.
PII scanning of digital contracts also allows quick indexing. On top of that, it can help conceal information that’s not needed in order to keep companies from getting too much information.
Since using too much personal information is often restricted by laws, this can be a great way to keep companies compliant. It lets them get the right information needed for contracts, without overdoing it and winding up outside legal parameters.
Allows better data discovery
Ensuring your data undergoes PII scanning helps your organization determine the information you can find on your servers. After identifying data, your organization can guarantee the information owners that their data is kept safe from fraud.
Remember that efficient data discovery also helps improve client trust and your organization’s overall reputation. A PII scanner helps you not only improve data discovery but also reduce errors. The result is a further boost in trust from your clients.
Prevents future security issues
Generally, PII scanning prevents future PII leaks. Without it, you’re looking at a multitude of security risks that could affect your relationship with your clients — or with the law.
How does this work? PII scanners can identify both encrypted and unencrypted information; when you can pinpoint unencrypted information, you can go back in and encrypt it to ensure that it’s safe from leaks.
Failing to do so can leave your customers’ PII exposed to identity theft, fraud, or financial theft.
For example, when personal customer information is left unprotected, it’s more likely that hackers will gain access to that information. If someone’s social security number, for example, is unencrypted, this could lead to identity theft.
This is why data encryption is essential. Thanks to PII scanners, it’s easy to scan for PII leaks and identify areas where encryption should be improved and prioritized. This guarantees your clients’ data is kept safe and secure from data breaches.
Looking for additional security measures also means establishing more PII protection strategies. It’s a collaborative effort that should involve several groups:
- compliance and audit
- external partners
These aspects should work hand-in-hand to bridge the gaps and promote data encryption.
Benefits of PII scanning for consumers
It’s not just businesses that benefit from PII scanning, either. As companies grow, their expanding customer base can also see quite a few benefits of this technology.
According to PwC’s 2022 Trust Consumer Intelligence report, only 30% of consumers trust the businesses that they work with. That’s a pretty low percentage, especially when you consider that company leaders feel twice as trusting of those same customers!
One way to build trust is to properly handle your clients’ personal information. This also helps create a better customer experience. It shows clients that you’re a team that takes the information you use seriously, and that you value their privacy.
Improved client experience doesn’t only build trust; it also contributes to your organization’s reputation. An increase in positive feedback leads to an increase in client referrals. This means you can expect your organization to attract more potential leads which can turn into long-lasting clients.
Reduces data traceability
Data traceability increases the risk of sensitive data ending up in the wrong hands. But with PII scanning enabled, sensitive information gets better protection, making it harder for clients’ data to be transferred from one company to another — considering the transfer occurs without obtaining client permission.
PII scanning can also reduce data theft. If your organization performs regular PII scans, this helps determine the proper storage of PII. It also helps identify consistent patterns regarding how your team stores, uses and saves data within your internal CRM software.
PII scanning can also discover possible weak links in your PII workflow within the networks. Identifying weak links can help your organization develop better data protection strategies, and educate your team about the best practices for data protection.
Ensures correct information use
PII scanning prevents storing unnecessary information or misusing sensitive client data. It ensures end-to-end data encryption and provides privacy and security. That’s especially true for data stored within the cloud.
PII scanning also discovers two types of data encryption: symmetric and asymmetric:
- Symmetric: The same key is used by the data receiver and the data sender for locking and unlocking the data. Only the involved parties know what and where the key is, guaranteeing a third party will not be able to guess it.
- Asymmetric: Both parties have different keys for locking and unlocking the data.
Proper data encryption guarantees the correct information is used at the right time. This prevents data mishandling, which could end in misplacing information.
PII scanning implementation doesn’t just have implications for businesses — it can also help companies protect their consumers, especially at scale.
On the consumer side, PII scanning helps build trust among customers, reduces data traceability, and limits information misuse. On the business side, PII scanning helps businesses stay compliant, avoid future risks, and pursue better data discovery.
Taking the right steps to implement PII scanning starts today. Doing so could be the key to building your customer base and managing a secure business.
Peter is an AI practitioner with a keen interest in competitive intelligence and web change monitoring. He is the CEO of Fluxguard based in Portland, Oregon.