Data Protection Strategies for Retail and E-Commerce

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Effective cybersecurity has become crucial for many business owners with the increasing spate of business digitization. Indeed, data management has proven to be a vital cog in the wheel of e-commerce operations. At the heart of these operations lies the effective management of customer data.

Many retail and e-commerce businesses lean on customer data to provide – and in other cases, improve – their personalized offerings. However, these advancements have also called for more effective methods of keeping customers safe.

Experian’s Global Identity and Fraud Report indicated that about 74% of customers prioritize their security as the most crucial aspect of their online presence. Therefore, retail businesses must seek innovative ways to avoid illegal customer data access.

But how can these businesses ensure such? What type of challenges do these businesses face in protecting customer data?

Importance of Data Protection to Businesses

As businesses, adhering to regulatory stipulations that aid in safeguarding customer data is pivotal. Conventional regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) have been enacted to impose strict standards in collecting and processing personal data.

Thus, compliance with such laws is important to protect the rights of individuals as it pertains to their privacy. It is also essential because it helps to increase efficiency (on the part of the retail business) while reducing the risk of harm to customers.

More than this, secure payment gateways are vital to a business’s smooth operation. In our world today, merchants perform financial transactions through secure payment gateways to protect their customers. Thus, where there is an instance of fraud, the merchant can refund the customer’s money and, in turn, build trust with such a customer.

Also, encryption methods and regular security audits are necessary for retail businesses. Additionally, VPNs help secure sensitive data and establish threat protection as they enhance the security of communication between the business owner and the customer.

Challenges in Safeguarding Customer Data

Safeguarding customer data has its attendant challenges. There are three important ones you should especially look out for:

  • Security threats: Human error invokes most of the security breaches. Clicking on unverified or suspicious links often leads to a brute attack on a business’s data and may lead to substantial financial losses.
  • Insider threats: Sometimes, the breach may occur from within, caused by an employee who knowingly causes the breach.
  • Regulations: As much as these laws are in place to safeguard data, the often complex nature of these laws tends to prove a problem for retail businesses. For instance, the European Union Court of Justice recently invalidated regulations allowing the EU-US Privacy Shield framework to exist.
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The implication of the above is that companies in the US with business operations in the EU must find an alternative to accessing data within the EU region while simultaneously examining the adequacy of data protection offered on the US side.

Measures to Protect Customer Data

There are specific criteria businesses may put in place to protect customer data. Here are the four prominent measures that you can take:

  1. Collect only the required data: Retail businesses must realize that collecting data beyond what is necessary about their customers leave them vulnerable to cybercrime. Moreso, where the Know-Your-Customer (KYC) process becomes too cumbersome, it may detract customers from such business.
  2. Ensure you use an HTTPS system: A customer’s visit to a non-HTTPS website usually ends with a security risk warning. This notification may prevent customers from accessing your website, resulting in an eventual loss of purchases, conversations, and even website traffic.
  3. Use strong passwords and secure systems of authentication: As a business owner, utilizing secure security systems is paramount in protecting customers’ data. Today, many tools you can integrate into your e-commerce site to strengthen your business’s online security.
  4. Encrypt passwords and sensitive credentials: Additionally, e-commerce businesses may encrypt sensitive data like credit card details. This necessitates using particular procedures to access such information as credit card details.

Additionally, using a strong password significantly aids in bolstering your e-commerce site. You may also use two-factor authentication and reCAPTCHA systems that ensure hackers do not access your e-commerce site.

Best Practices to Mitigate Data Breach

Where a breach has occurred, you can take some steps to mitigate such data breach. They include the following three approaches:

  1. Identify the source of the breach: This could range from a hacker to an employee of the business. After the source of the breach has been confirmed, a team of security experts may be deployed to investigate and assess the breach before making recommendations to mitigate the loss of data.
  2. Secure physical areas related to the breach: You need to secure physical areas where data may be processed and stored. However, this should be done in a way that does not disrupt the company’s daily operations.
  3. Fix vulnerability: Finally, you begin to fix the vulnerability located. This may be done by updating the software and the attendant security protocols or having the investigation team recommend viable solutions for the breach.

Final Thoughts

Protecting customer data sits at the heart of business operations in our digitized world, as product offerings now seek to cater to the specific needs of individual customers.

Therefore, it is also pertinent to put adequate strategies to secure customer data, as such data depicts a personal overview of such customers.