Data Breach: The Sure Fast Way to Become a Retail Pariah

/ 2 years ago


“18.5M Californians lose data to hackers”  

Shocking weekly headlines such as this illustrate the growing problem of major data breaches at multinational enterprises and have both consumers and operators crying foul. In fact, these large data breaches have spawned a 600 percent increase in the number of California customer records violated in cyber-attacks in 2014 according to the California Data Breach Report from state Attorney General Kamala Harris. Moreover, the average cost to investigate and deal with a data breach is $5.9 million, according to the 2014 Cost of Data Breach Study published by the Ponemon Institute and funded by IBM.

The unfortunate consequence of the data breach phenomenon is it not only affects large multinational enterprises but all in-store and online retail business engaging in point of sale transactions. Ultimately, your business is vulnerable as your valuable customers are losing confidence in the security of point of sale transactions.  After all, a primary concern raised by these data breaches is risk to consumer financial health. Data security and customer trust are inseparably linked. Once data security is compromised, your customer will no longer trust your company. Gartner Group statistics tell us that 80 percent of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20 percent of your existing customers. Never underestimate the value of retention. Customer retention is the lifeblood of your business. Indeed, to retain customers you must gain and keep their trust with an ironclad point of sale system.

“FCC Slaps Telcos With $10M Fine for Data Breaches” 

This recent headline illustrates the cost of a data breach to your business is not only qualitative in nature but quantitative. The United States Federal Communication Commission (FCC) fines for violations of the Communications Act can run into the tens of millions of dollars for those operators who do not properly secure customer information such as customer names, Social Security numbers, and addresses. The bottom line is if you fail to protect your customer data, the U.S. government can find you liable and you will have to pay up.

What Can You Do To Mitigate a Data Breach?

Proper security measures to secure customer information must be in place to protect the confidentiality of the consumer information you have on file. It is imperative to honor the trust of your customers and protect them from harm caused by violations of the Communications Act.

Whether point of sale providers or hackers are to blame, as an operator, you are the bridge between your customer information and the point of sale provider. The simple fact is not if you should shore up your consumer data, but when.According to, you must ask your point of sale provider how secure your customer data is. Additional questions should be asked such as: Is it stored on publicly accessible Internet servers? Do they have a current risk assessment model in place to determine if your investment in data security is up to par? Can they help you improve your audit controls and conduct breach drills?

Data security is usually reactive in nature. However, it is imperative for you to be proactive and reduce the threat and ultimately prevent a data breach. The use of a reputable expert such as Shopify can shore up your customer data and assist you with rapid and continuous defense against cyber-attacks to save your business from the monetary and reputational damage of a data breach.  Reputable online point of sale providers should host a Payment Card Industry Security Standard (PCI) compliant shopping cart. Moreover, to streamline your operations, you will want to look for a complete eCommerce solution which will help you organize your products, customize your storefront, track and respond to orders, and of course accept credit card payments.

If you currently find yourself in a situation where your customer data has been breached, until Congress passes a data breach notification law, you will be required to traverse the complex maze of 47 state requirements. A guide to assist you with state laws on data breach notifications has been released by the Direct Marketing Association and is available at

It’s never too late to secure your customer data. Protect your business and provide your customers with confidence in the security of your point of sale transactions. After all, once data security is compromised, your customer will no longer trust your company. In summary, to retain customers you must gain and keep their trust with an ironclad point of sale system. What can you do to avoid a data breach? Assess your current point of sale provider and determine if they are Payment Card Industry Security Standard (PCI) compliant. Be bold and take a stand for your business and your customers against hackers. Ask your point of sale provider what steps you need to take to avoid becoming the latest weekly headline as a data breach retail pariah.

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