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Any business handling private customer information must have a data security plan in place — of particular note is those storing credit card numbers. Retailers not only need a secure file transfer platform for their own internal records, they also need to be mindful of where they are housing information pertaining to their customer base. There is a level of trust among shoppers when they voluntarily pass their financial information along to stores to purchase an item or provide contact info for a loyalty or reward program. Retail businesses need to take every actionable measure possible to avoid data breaches and ensure the safekeeping of their clients’ information.
However, protecting sensitive customer data can be challenging for retailers for a multitude of reasons. According to a 2017 report released by Verizon, system weaknesses and maintaining the protection of customer data in transit are two of the most challenging factors retailers face when working to meet compliance requirements. If not regularly reviewed and adjusted, these setbacks could be costly to retailers and even result in a business closing its doors for good.
Below are the 5 most common data security challenges facing retail businesses today:
- Numerous servers in multiple locations
- A vast number of retail employees with unsecured personal devices
- Maintaining and enforcing an information security policy
- System weaknesses (e.g. the reliability of POS systems and/or security risks with web-based systems)
- Compliance to regulations as they evolve
It is worth noting the most ubiquitous regulation retailers must adhere to is the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, or PCI DSS. This regulation is reported as the second most challenging data security requirement in this industry, with new GDPR rules being the first. Any businesses transmitting, processing and storing customer credit card numbers must adhere to this standard. PCI DSS involves 12 requirements as outlined by the PCI Security Standards Council.
PCI DSS requirements include:
- Creating and maintaining a secure network
- Continuous protection of cardholder data
- Maintaining a vulnerability management program
- Implementing measures for strong access control
- Ongoing monitoring and testing of networks
- Maintaining an information security policy
Additionally, the PCI Security Standards Council recently released new cloud computing guidelines regarding secure data storage, how information is shared, relationships with cloud providers and other security challenges and considerations. Ensuring a retail business meets all necessary requirements, especially as they evolve and expand, can be a daunting task. One solution is a compliance audit, or or a scheduled review of the company’s adherence to regulatory guidelines. An independent third-party (e.g. a government auditor or consultant) will review a store’s internal systems, particularly involving user access and security polices, to determine whether or not they are compliant with regulations like PCI DSS.
Note: PCI DSS compliance leaves little room for interpretation and specifies exactly what retailers must do, who is in charge of ensuring adherence to the regulation, where it applies and how to determine if the organization is compliant. In fact, under PCI DSS, the majority of merchants processing and storing customer data are required to bring in a qualified, external security assessor to perform an audit, according to a TechTarget Search Compliance report.
PCI DSS falls under the required audit of internal control systems to make sure retailers are compliant with regulations. Aside from undergoing a security audit, choosing a secure file transfer platform can help mitigate many risks involved with how information is passed from one retail location to another and where it is being accessed by staff in transit. A secure data storage solution should always be an integral part of any businesses’ security policy. Not adhering to regulatory guidelines can not only result in fines and other legal costs, they can also impede staff from performing daily operations due to shut downs or other disruptions.
Businesses, especially in the retail industry, oversee private customer data on a regular basis. Shoppers trust retailers to properly complete transactions without compromising their private information. Ensuring each customer’s sensitive information is securely stored and processed using a regulatory compliant storage platform is vital for keeping the lights on and maintaining the reputation of the retail organization. A secure file transfer platform is a smart, safe solution that keep stored data protected as files are shared across departments, employees and retail locations.
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