Protection of your customers’ data, both personal and financial, should be at the top of your priority list in 2016–when data breaches are expected to reach an all-time high. Especially if you want to ensure confidence from buyers and turn them into repeat customers. And as Facebook’s VP of Growth Ryan Schulz would say, “Retention is the single most important thing for growth”.
So to retain customers and grow your business, make customer confidence a priority.
There are a number of easy and cost-effective strategies you can use to safeguard your customer’s sensitive information from the increasing amount of data breaches, some of these include:
- Keep your anti-virus software updated,
- If you must store paper copies of financial information, only do so in an area inaccessible to most employees,
- Use a secure WiFi network, and
- Run transactions through a trusted merchant service vendor.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) is a leader in advocating for data security laws in the retail industry. This article outlines their proposed plans to ensure customer information is secure.
The infographic below shows where data breaches happen by industry. Retail makes up 8% of total data breaches in 2015.
To safeguard against a future attack to your business, let’s explore the easiest strategies that you can start implementing today.
4 Tips To Protect Customer Data and Ensure Confidence
1. Anti-virus Protection
An updated version of a trusted anti-virus program will help prevent malicious programs from being installed on your company’s computers. It only takes one infected computer to compromise every transaction throughout your business. Look for anti-virus company reviews before settling on a product, because some pieces of software do a much better job at protecting your computer than others.
Another important factor to keep in mind in regards to anti-virus programs is ensuring it is updated regularly. Software programs are constantly improved and these updates are pushed to consumers. Often times older versions won’t even work if you don’t update the latest versions. This can be done easily with an auto-update feature that you can set to your convenience. If it’s a larger update, you might want to set the update to run only overnight, not during normal business hours.
2. Filing Sensitive Customer Data
Keeping physical copies of customer data is sometimes necessary, but is never a good idea. If it MUST be done, you should make sure that it cannot be easily accessed. Paper trails run huge risks, most obviously that they can be misplaced or fall into the wrong hands. Best practice here is to avoid paper copies of any sensitive information whenever possible.
3. WiFi Security
Preventing people from accessing your WiFi network is one of the easiest things you can do to avoid any malicious activity. Place a password on your internal network, one that is not easily guessed by anyone but the owners or managers of the business.
If you need to have a WiFi network available for your customers, set up a separate “guest” network which is not connected to your internal network. This is easy to do with the help of your internet provider. You might also find it helpful to check your internal network’s router log every so often, just to make sure someone is not either trying to brute force their way in, or that an unauthorized device is not accessing your network.
4. Credit Card Processing
Another major consideration in the prevention of a data breach is in the selection of your credit card processing vendor. Make sure that you are confident in your vendor’s security capabilities. This includes their support protocols in the event of a data breach and the liability that is placed on your business if this occurs.
Also, ensure your employees are properly trained in accepting credit card payments. Too often retailers run the risk of stolen or fraudulent cards being used at their business. Use these guidelines to help identify any fraudulent credit card activity.
If you follow these easy tips to start with, you will be in a good position to protect your business against a data breach. All of these concepts can be put into place in a relatively short amount of time, and the cost is negligible compared to what you might lose if your customers’ data were stolen.