Data Breaches & Retail
A Guide for Retail Business Owners

Data Breach Prevention for Small Retailers
Actions to Keep Your Store's Technology Secure

You'll want to make sure your technology is up to date, but it's not always as simple as having this or that software. Secure technology is also about how you use it and how you store your data.

As we saw in "How Do Data Breaches Happen to Retailers?" cyber criminals are often able to break into POS systems. Small retailers often don't change the factory settings on their technology and sometimes use the default password, making it easy for hackers to sneak in. Here are tips to help you improve your security and avoid common mistakes:

  • Limit the amount of data you have. If possible, don't keep a backlog of customer records unless you actually use this data. The more data you have, the more data can be stolen.
  • Replace old technology. If you're still using the same POS system you got in the 90s, you could be exposing your store to unnecessary risk. Newer technology generally has better encryption standards and may be easier to upgrade in the future.
  • Use PCI-compliant payment technology. PCI compliance is the industry standard for businesses that accept credit and debit cards and other electronic payments. Having PCI-compliant technology is a must. In addition, storeowners can have their technology scanned to ensure it is secure (see ControlScan's PCI Compliance Guide New browser window icon. for more information).
  • Secure your network. Because your technology is all interconnected, you want to make sure that everything from your wireless router to your POS system is secure. Use firewalls and anti-malware software to do so.
  • Make sure data is encrypted. "Encryption" refers to the way files can be scrambled so that outsiders can't read them. Even if criminals break into your network and download your data, they won't be able to read it. Changing the settings on your computers can encrypt your data when you're logged out. If necessary, hire an IT expert to make sure your technology is secure.

Don't hesitate to hire outside help if these strategies seem confusing. Many small retailers are used to doing things on their own, but remember that working with security experts can save you money in the long run if it helps you avoid a costly data breach.

Next: Preventing Retail Data Breaches: A Final Word for Small-Business Owners

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