Monday, August 15, 2022

Protecting customer data online this peak season

With e-commerce and the cashless economy growing in the wake of Covid-19, a majority of 2021 Christmas shopping is expected to be done through e-tailers and online stores.

By ForgeRock ANZ Regional Vice President James Ross.

ForgeRock ANZ Regional Vice President James Ross.

However, with alternative payment options increasing in popularity, consumer touchpoints for finance options with retailers are growing. Between buy now, pay later options, digital banking and third-party providers like PayPal, access to banking information has never been more open – for consumers and criminals alike.

Retail is one of the most vulnerable industries when it comes to cyber concerns. With attacks on retailers increasing 800% from the year prior, it’s imperative that retailers get smart about how they handle customer data for a secure and seamless Christmas shopping experience.

Consumer first approach to data safety

Retailers are often the front line of security. Despite consumers becoming savvier when it comes to internet safety, making sure customers are protected from the get-go will help mitigate any future problems or issues that arise.

When encouraging customers to make accounts, implementing strong authentication systems will build a solid foundation. With username and password cyber-attacks increasing by 450% from 2019 to 2020, multi-factor authentication (MFA) will help you build trust in your online offerings. Don’t just rely on the family pet or street name-based passwords to protect your customer data, employing MFA based on multiple login touchpoints will minimise the risk of fraud and cyberattacks from occurring.

MFA can also help retailers pick up fraudulent activity early, by giving your customers a heads up if people try to access their information.

Encryption, encryption, encryption 

The growth of data analysis technology has provided retailers with the ability to personalise consumer offerings. Yet while personalisation is an effective tool for retailers, collecting data such as location, demographics and other personal information also carries risks.

Hence, it’s imperative that any consumer data is protected through high levels of encryption. This protects you from outside threats and minimises instances of internal staff making mistakes when sharing data.

Encrypting your e-commerce website through Secure Socket Layer (SSL) and HTTPS certificates will work to minimise criminal access to the personal data stored on your websites.

Additionally, retailers should only collect vital data. Don’t collect data you don’t need. By eliminating the collection of extraneous data, you eliminate the threat and keep customers safer.

For some, this might be e-commerce 101, but if the Cambridge Analytica Facebook scandal has taught us anything, it’s that personal data is not always as secure as it seems, so getting the basics right is essential.

Be on top of your data

Some of the biggest security threats emerge from an outdated approach to security or technology. It’s important to remember that cybercriminals are evolving and thinking of smarter ways to achieve their goals all the time.

Keeping malware protections updated is the front line when it comes to defending against malware. A strong security system that is updated regularly will protect your data against new threats.

Take stock of what platforms and software you use. Whenever new tools are added to your existing stack, ensure you know what levels of protection this provides. You might have the best security available, but if one of your web analytics tools doesn’t, there is a potential back door for cybercriminals to access customer data. 

The importance of keeping customers secure

Ultimately, ensuring high levels of security boils down to one thing – trust. When e-tailer Princess Polly suffered a data breach in 2019, they struggled to keep the trust of their customers, receiving thousands of complaints online and numerous news reports on the topic.

What this demonstrates is that trust is what keeps your customers coming back again and again, and if you break that trust, it’s not easy to win it back. It’s no secret that cybercriminals are becoming smarter and finding more ways to attack vulnerable points in the retail experience. But while criminals are becoming smarter, the options for keeping users safe are also growing.

It’s important to remember that no network is impenetrable. But ensuring that you stay on top of your systems and build strong customer offerings that rely on encryption and MFA solutions, you can rest assured that you have done everything you can to protect your customers for a seamless experience this peak season.

About James Ross

James Ross joined the ForgeRock team in 2019 as the Regional Vice President for ANZ. Responsible for growing ForgeRock’s presence across Australia and New Zealand, James’s focus is on revenue growth and business development, to cement ForgeRock’s position at the core of identity management in Australia.

About ForgeRock

ForgeRock, a global leader in digital identity, delivers modern identity and access management solutions for consumers, employees and things to simply and safely access the connected world. Using ForgeRock, more than 1300 organisations around the world orchestrate, manage, and secure the complete lifecycle of identities from dynamic access controls, governance, APIs, and storing authoritative data – consumable in cloud or hybrid environments.

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