5 Black Friday and Cyber Monday Data Security Tips
It’s that time of year again. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday quickly approaching, many retailers are hoping to have customers lined up outside, eager for the doors to open, or sitting excitedly at their computers, ready to shop for the best deals. In 2016, the National Retail Federation found that more than 154 million consumers planned to shop over the long Thanksgiving weekend, with another 122 million or more shopping on Cyber Monday as well.
The trouble for retailers is that with the good that comes with the abundance of shopping also comes the bad. It’s nearly every day that we hear of a data breach, and it’s no secret that the retail industry is no exception. These holiday shopping events present a great opportunity for criminals to find opportunities to gain access to shoppers’ data. It was just four years ago that one of the biggest data breaches occurred when the credit and debit cards of 110 million Target customers were compromised. Breaches like Target's are a retailer’s worst nightmare, as they not only result in great costs to the corporation financially, but they also can tarnish the retailer’s brand, making consumers weary of shopping stores (in-store and online) that have been compromised.
So, how can a retailer protect itself, and its customers, from the negative effects of data loss or theft? Here are five tips to help:
- Know where your data and your customers reside. Recognize where your business is being conducted. Many countries have increased the compliance requirements surrounding how data must be used, stored and protected. Failing to meet these requirements could wipe away profits and your business due to massive fines or drops in customer confidence.
- Complete a vulnerability assessment, and close the gaps. Consider your organization’s comprehensive risk management profile. For each of your devices, systems or platforms, run a vulnerability assessment and establish a threat risk to each component. Where time and resources are constrained, focus on closing the largest threat risk first. Threat agents often look for quick targets, and will more quickly move on from targets requiring more effort.
- Encrypt your data. Encryption is the bedrock of any data security solution. With a robust encryption and key management solution in place, whether your customer data is stored in the enterprise or in the cloud, if a criminal ever got their hands on that data, it would be unreadable and rendered useless.
- Don’t defer responsibility for your data in the cloud. If you use cloud solutions, regardless of which one you’ve chosen, you're ultimately responsible for protecting your customer information in the cloud. Make sure that your data security solution can scale as quickly as your services demand, allows you to move data securely as needed, and provides you sole control of your encryption keys.
- Bring in help. In many cases, smaller organizations lack the necessary talent, skills and budget to keep on top of the constantly evolving security risks facing their businesses. Rather than remain exposed, find a proven data security provider that can work with you to ensure proper security measures are taken.
The holiday shopping season is an exciting time for retailers and consumers alike. Putting the aforementioned protections in place will help to safeguard your business and the data it holds, as well as your customers’ trust in your brand, from the negative impacts of a breach over Black Friday, Cyber Monday and beyond.
Mark Hickman is the COO of WinMagic, a provider of data security solutions, protection services and software.
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