Data breaches are more common than ever; they’re also pervasive with the potential to impact every kind of business that relies on computers. Unfortunately, this includes your fitness business.

Here’s a closer look at what all fitness industry managers and owners should know about protecting their businesses and their members from data breaches.

The 411 on Data Breaches

For better and for worse, today’s world runs on data. For fitness businesses, data yields invaluable insights for member recruitment and retention. It can help you target new members, respond to them faster, and serve them better. 

However, it comes at a risk. Collecting and storing information on your members also increases the risk of that information being lost, compromised, or stolen by everyone from hackers to your own employees. 

Think tech-centric businesses are alone in their vulnerability to data breaches? Think again.  Look no further than a recent data breach at a popular gym and wellness scheduling service, which not only left more than 113 million of its user records exposed to potential cybercriminals but also eroded member trust and compromised the company’s reputation. Then there’s the cost. According to Norton, the average total cost to a company by a data breach is a staggering $3.86 million, an average of $148 per stolen record. 

The first step in preventing data breaches is understanding them and their causes. Explains Norton, “A data breach is a security incident in which information is accessed without authorization. Data breaches can hurt businesses and consumers in a variety of ways. They are a costly expense that can damage lives and reputations and take time to repair.” 

Norton also highlights the many factors that cause data breaches, including outdated software which can lead to the exploitation of system vulnerabilities; weak and insecure passwords; “drive-by downloads” caused by visiting compromised websites; and targeted malware attacks like spam and phishing emails which trick users into revealing their personal information. 

Data Breach Prevention Tips

While failure to prevent data breaches can have serious consequences, there’s good news on this front. Fitness businesses can take preventative measures to reduce their chance of being victimized, and it’s not as difficult as it sounds. In fact, the majority of it comes down to following best practices, setting policies, and educating your employees, including the following:

  • Set clear policies for everything from limiting access to sensitive data to bring your own device (BYOD) rules. The less information that’s shared via the fewest channels, the smaller your chances of having that information end up in the wrong hands.
  • Educate employees about best practices for password setting, including avoiding repeat usage of passwords and the importance of frequent changes. Using multi-factor authentication adds another level of security.
  • Require employees to install and use the best software for your company’s needs on both their business and personal devices. Additionally, mandating the use of the most secure internet browser for your fitness business and/or limiting employee access to the web further reduces the chance of a click exposing your operation to harmful malware or viruses. 
  • Utilize encryption services and techniques to protect files as well as computers themselves.  Keep in mind that these services are only as effective if they’re current, so commit to routine software updates.
  • Make sure all relevant parties who interact with your business and its employees are in agreement with your data security practices. This includes third-party vendors with whom you share data. 

Group of people dressed for an exercise class.

One last thing to keep in mind about preventing data breaches? It’s not just good business; it’s also your responsibility to your members. While there’s no foolproof way to ensure that your data won’t be compromised, adopting a rigorous preventative approach is the best tactic to not only fortify your fitness business against a breach but also to protect your member data and your relationship with your members for better member retention and recruitment. 

Speaking of these fitness business imperatives, keeping up with the latest fitness business trends also promotes critical member engagement. There’s no better way to do so than with fitness monitoring technology.  Download the catalog today to learn what the AccuroFit System can do for you.