9 Ways Online Retailers Can Protect Customer Data Privacy During the Holidays

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Proper Handling of Personal Data

Employee error is one of the biggest threats to data privacy for many industries, and that holds true for e-commerce, as well. That's why online retailers have to stress the importance of proper handling of personal data to all of those who actually handle the data, according to Sam Pfeifle, publications director at the International Association of Privacy Professionals. It's not just the security staff's responsibility, but everyone who works with a database or handles customer information in any way. They need to be able to recognize sensitive information – SSNs, credit card numbers, even email addresses – and know that it has to be handled properly. Employees need to be current on the company's security practices and policies, too.

A study conducted by KPMG last fall found that a growing number of consumers are leery of breaches and the loss of data privacy. As Forbes stated:

More than a quarter (27%) of the 1,400 U.S. consumers surveyed in November by KPMG said they would only shop at a store that previously experienced a cyber attack if they could not find the product elsewhere — with 8% refusing to shop at these stores at all.

Consumers have a reason to be concerned. Last holiday shopping season, IBM revealed that attacks against retailers are growing more sophisticated and targeted, which means that while there may be fewer attacks overall, they are gathering just as much or more data.

As we approach the 2015 holiday shopping season, it is up to retailers to do everything they can to protect their customers' data privacy. It's not an easy task, as Joe Schorr, director of advanced security solutions with Bomgar, stated in an email comment:

"Retail organizations are one of the most attractive targets for data theft due to the massive amounts of credit card information they process. Tools that allow IT departments or even outside vendors to remotely access and fix manned and unmanned systems are imperative in retail, but they're also one of the retail industry's biggest security weaknesses. Hackers are constantly looking to exploit unsecure remote access methods that turn them from outside attackers to privileged insiders and gain access to sensitive data and systems."

In this slideshow, Sue Marquette Poremba has outlined a few issues experts recommend online retailers consider before we hit the busy shopping season to better ensure their security is running smoothly.


Related Topics : Unisys, Stimulus Package, Security Breaches, Symantec, Electronic Surveillance

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