What resellers should know about protecting data in the channel

Luke Horton-Walker, Operations Director at Cameo, discusses why it’s critical that VARs evaluate the data protection needs of every end user.

Data security is now the crux of many concerns for modern businesses and the IT channel is no exception. As reliance on data grows, IT resellers must provide the essential support end users need to both manage and dispose of equipment in which business critical data is held. A requirement which is also now heavily underpinned by regulation.

2018 saw the introduction of the GDPR by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in efforts to establish clear data protection guidelines – placing further focus on data and specifically on businesses maintaining good practices to meet minimum legal requirements. Yet, for many end users, visibility over exactly where and how their information is being dealt with – and by which third parties – remains extremely low.

According to research conducted on behalf of RSM Group, only 57% of businesses are confident that they are GDPR compliant – even though the regulation was passed over a year ago. Considering the potential to be faced with huge fines, this is a big problem for companies. However, it offers up an opportunity for those operating within the channel to become the GDPR expert for their customers.

Businesses should be looking to help manage data as part of their value-add services, adding another string to their bow when looking to gain an advantage over competitors. IT resellers must first understand the fundamental processes for maintaining business critical data security within customer systems.

However, these concerns aren’t exclusive to data storage within current systems, but also extend across the disposal of any old hardware or devices used to store, manage and process data. Processes such as Secure Data Sanitisation (SDS) have become extremely important for resellers as a result, not only protecting the end user data held within assets after disposal, but safeguarding them with transparent audit trails to demonstrate their compliance with legislation.

Data can be a minefield, and managing it is certainly a task that can’t be half done. Handling end user data is a process of huge importance, but there are steps that VARs can take in order to manage data securely, confidently, and reliably.

Treating it almost as a checklist, it is important to evaluate processes when it comes to GDPR compliance. Not only is it important to comply to GDPR, but VARs also have to prove compliance, and it should be a key consideration for every reseller. From here, they can identify any weak spots within their own processes and iron them out to align properly with regulations.

Once these processes are water tight, and a reseller is in a position to roll out support, a proactive approach to data management is important for two reasons; not only does it ensure that end user confidence is maintained, but it also stops outdated devices, and the data held within them, from becoming compromised. That’s why it’s integral to offer regular hardware checks, and – when necessary – to complete any repairs or updates as soon as possible.

Further to this, data management also extends beyond a device’s lifecycle. The final step for every piece of hardware comes through SDS, and ensuring that every device is properly wiped of data and dealt with appropriately – whether that means being refurbished, recycled or destroyed.

For resellers, the need to show value-adds is incredibly important in such a fast paced and demanding industry. Customers come with different hardware security needs, and it’s critical that VARs evaluate the data protection needs of every end user, tailoring support to fit seamlessly around them.

Customer service has become a big part of the channel and when it comes to something as crucial as data security, resellers need to be able to offer a service that is reliable and efficient. There are many ways that resellers can deliver these services to end users, and if necessary work alongside industry experts to do so. Either way, they need to be able to trust that the support they are delivering to their customers is based on vast practical experience and expertise in managing data security on a business-wide scale. Only then can resellers provide the true level of support and maintenance that modern businesses now require for their hardware.

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