Shoppers shouldn’t have to trade personal data for bargains this festive season

What was once a US-only trend is now firmly steeped in British culture – and now more than ever, all eyes will be on retailers to prove that they are capable of delivering a seamless, secure shopping experience for consumers.

We have seen far too many data breaches in the last few weeks alone to ignore the spectre of cybercrime, and hackers will no doubt be waiting on the starting blocks alongside those bargain-hunting shoppers.

During this period, vast numbers of credit cards will be used online and the amount of financial data crossing retailer networks will spike significantly – creating a potential goldmine for hackers. Retailers in turn will face immense pressure to ensure that this influx of payment and personally identifiable information is safeguarded. It’s no secret that existing security stances and attitudes must adjust to a changed world – perimeters are permeable and APT attacks are the norm.

As such, retailers must make sure their servers and databases – which will hold the bulk of their structured and unstructured data assets – are not low hanging fruit for hackers. In addition, they should ensure that they have adequate encryption, fraud detection and prevention mechanisms in place to protect customer data – after all, nobody wants to become the next Target. In addition, all web traffic and database activity should be looked at with caution and anomalous behaviour or suspicious activity notification alerts should be acted upon immediately and not dismissed.

A recent Vormetric survey found that two thirds (66 per cent) of British consumers would be concerned about their bank details being compromised in the aftermath of a breach, closely followed by their credit card numbers at 63 per cent. So if retailers want to minimise the reputational damage should the worst happen, proactive steps should be taken now to ensure the protection of that data even if it falls into the wrong hands.

After all, while it will be harder to ensure nothing slips through the data security net during the inevitable chaos, consumers will not be pleased to find out that the bargains they bag came at the expense of their personal data.”

Louise Bulman, VP EMEA at Vormetric

Image source: Shutterstock/mtkang