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What is data hygiene?

The term “data hygiene” is used to describe the process of keeping data neat and accurate. Data hygiene is a set of simple practices that help you keep your data organised, accurate, and secure. A recent study found that nearly 90% of companies have experienced data breaches caused by human error. Poor data hygiene is often the culprit. Data breaches can be costly and cause irreparable damage to your reputation. This especially applies to companies that handle sensitive information. In order to avoid these disasters, it’s important to practice good data hygiene. This means keeping your data organised, accurate, and secure.

Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to improve your data hygiene. Even though data cleansing is a time-consuming and costly process, it’s still necessary. In this post, we’ll go through some of the processes that can be automated to improve the quality of your data and make sure your data is clean and secure.


Why is data hygiene important?

Maintaining good data hygiene is crucial for keeping your data accurate, valuable, and efficient. By regularly checking and cleaning your data, you can prevent problems that arise from incorrect or missing information, and make it easier to find the information you need. Good data hygiene is like a strong immune system for your data, helping you stay healthy and avoid costly mistakes and wasted time. In summary, good data hygiene is essential for making better business decisions, improving customer service, and saving time and money.

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Clean data is important in relation to sensitive data

Sensitive data is a special category of personal data that requires extra protection. This includes, but is not limited to, things like social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, and credit card numbers. Good data hygiene is even more important when it comes to sensitive data. Keep your sensitive data clean and organised. Make sure that only authorised people have access to it, that it is stored securely, and that it is regularly backed up.


Best practices for data hygiene

It’s important to keep your data clean and free of errors. Here are some best practices for data hygiene:

1. Delete old files regularly
For example, delete all files that are older than 5 years, unless there is a very good reason to keep them.

2. Keep your data organized
Be sure to create a logical folder structure and categorize files clearly. Try to avoid multiple versions of the same file stored in different locations. Every time you store a version of the file in a new location, you increase the risk of a data security breach.

3. Backup your data
By creating backup copies of your data, if something goes wrong, you can restore it from an earlier version.

4. Get permission
Be careful when sharing data. Make sure you have the owner’s permission before sharing and that you only share it with people who need to see it.

5. Do not use unencrypted mail
Do not send information by email. Sent data is located in several places. You should share data from a central location. Use links to files instead of attachments in emails. An attachment sent to 5 people will subsequently be in 6 copies in different mail programs (the sender and the 5 recipients).

6. Archive data securely
Enter your data into a secure software program or secure database as soon as you receive it.

7. Forget the virtual recycle bin
Do not use your computer’s recycle bin to store files or documents.

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A smart way to clean your data

Here at Safe Online we have created DataMapper to simplify data hygiene for SMBs. DataMapper is a web-based tool that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to discover and classify your company’s personal data across various platforms and places. DataMapper finds and flags the personal data you store and sorts it into more than 242 file types and up to 98 categories.

Read more about DataMapper → 

Sebastian Allerelli

Founder & COO at Safe Online
Governance, Risk & Compliance Specialist
Follow me on LinkedIn to get tips on GDPR →