Data Breaches & Retail
A Guide for Retail Business Owners

Data Breach Prevention for Small Retailers
How to Prevent Data Breaches as a Small Retailer

Instead of data breaches, let's pretend we're talking about preventing theft at your store. What would you do to curb theft?

  • Develop a plan.
  • Train employees about their role.
  • Implement a system to monitor inventory.
  • Adopt best practices and invest in technology and other resources to help you.

The same overall strategy holds true for data breaches. Sounds simple, right? You'll develop a plan, train your employees, and make sure your store has the right technology and resources. Of course, nothing is ever quite that easy. Below we'll go into more detail about industry-standard data breach prevention strategies and what you can do to avoid bumps in the road.

Planning for Data Breaches Is Key to Preventing Them

Let's talk about why planning is a smart move. Like store theft, some data breaches can be averted simply by establishing a workplace that takes these threats seriously.

If your employees are on the lookout for theft and you regularly check inventory, you may prevent theft through diligence. That's what you want to do with breaches. If you're conscientious, you may nip problems in the bud or minimize the damage caused by any breaches that do happen.

To establish this kind of workplace, your data breach plan should include…

  • Employee training.
  • A strict password policy.
  • Limits on how store computers are used.

In addition, your plan should outline responsibilities and actions to take in the event you store is hacked. To do so, make sure to include…

  • Contact information for IT experts and other professionals who work with your cyber security.
  • Information about state data breach laws and customer notification guidelines.
  • Your small business insurance policy coverage details and your insurer's contact info.

Preventing Data Breaches through Employee Training

You'll need to tailor your data breach training so that it makes sense for the type of retail business you run. E-commerce stores have different risks than brick-and-mortar retailers. Here are some of the general strategies you should use when training your employees:

Strategies to Train Employees



Require all employees to use unique and complex passwords.

Use a random mix of numbers, letters, symbols, and capitalization for all work passwords.

Avoid passwords like "123456" and "password." That's just asking for trouble.

Train your employees about common schemes and online threats.

Encourage employees to report any suspicious emails or computer pop-ups urging them to click a link or open an attachment.

When in doubt, contact IT. Ignoring a message without telling anyone can lead to a security breach.

Teach all employees to report claims of fraud to you.

Sharing is caring. Because your customers may see signs of fraud before you do, train your employees to pass these complaints along to you.

Make it a priority to notify the appropriate person about a fraud claim. Don't wait so long you forget about it.

Aside from in-house training and preparation, it's a smart idea to hire a security professional to look at your network, POS system, and store computers. But these security professionals can also help you institute policies and procedures that will help your store prevent data breaches.

Talk with your IT consultant or technology expert about tailoring a data breach prevention plan and training your employees to avoid common mistakes that make it easier for cyber criminals looking to break into your network. (Tip: even working with an IT consultant now and then can help give you an idea of where your weaknesses lie so you can bolster your system.)

Next: Actions to Keep Your Store's Technology Secure

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