How Online Retailers Can Rebuild Consumer Confidence: 10 Data Points

 
 
By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2014-12-03
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    How Online Retailers Can Rebuild Consumer Confidence: 10 Data Points
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    How Online Retailers Can Rebuild Consumer Confidence: 10 Data Points

    By Chris Preimesberger
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    Retailers Need to Educate Customers
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    Retailers Need to Educate Customers

    Retailers should be communicating outwardly to customers with frequency that security measures are in place, and that securing their data is a high priority. Retailers can do this by: a) offering optional higher security checkout lanes where employees spend a few extra minutes validating the identity of the customer to reduce fraudulent activity; b) posting placards and posters that provide awareness to consumers on various risks they incur when using certain payment methods; and c) offering prepayment options, so no actual credit card transactions occur at the point-of-sale (POS) terminal.
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    Preparation Needed to Prevent Panic
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    Preparation Needed to Prevent Panic

    Retailers need to change their mindset and practice methods of early detection and mitigation. The retail industry should face the fact that breaches are not going to stop occurring. Anticipate that you will be hacked. Zappos is an example of how a retail breach can be a nonevent. Zappos built its systems expecting to be hacked, so when information was compromised, credit card numbers and usernames and passwords were protected and no customers were affected. This mindset and approach saved Zappos from becoming another victim of a massive retail breach.
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    Determine Your Own Best Practices
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    Determine Your Own Best Practices

    Not all best practices surrounding security are effective. They can be too broad—or too specific for certain vertical industries. They must be customized for each company, based on a retailer's risk level.
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    Larger Retailers Should Help Define Security Standards
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    Larger Retailers Should Help Define Security Standards

    Market-leading retailers must get into the driver's seat to help define and communicate security standards that raise the tide for all retailers. This also will work to illustrate what smaller companies don't need to do that large companies must. For example, the big-scale technology deployed to maintain Walmart's security posture may not be the best approach for a small retail chain.
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    Provide Specific Risk Training
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    Provide Specific Risk Training

    This should be made available to security teams at retailers and be focused on detection and monitoring of security threats in addition to preventive-type training. When prevention fails, it does so on a massive scale, providing potential attackers with an open environment from which to take advantage.
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    Don't Let a Corporate Network Become a House of Horrors
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    Don't Let a Corporate Network Become a House of Horrors

    The reality today is that organizations are under a constant barrage of attacks from persistent and diligent hackers, requiring a military-type focus to prevent attacks from going undetected. This steadfast approach and disciplined strategy comprises planning, hours of preventative training and a tactical military-style approach to combating the bad guys.
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    Take a Long, Hard Look at Your Old Systems
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    Take a Long, Hard Look at Your Old Systems

    Retailers must transition from using weak systems that leave them unprotected and open to attack; these include Microsoft Windows XP as well as POS terminals that are rife with issues. It is negligent to allow these technologies to continue to run in a retail organization when a slew of safer solutions are available at a low cost.
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    Don't Be Self-Serving
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    Don't Be Self-Serving

    Despite the fact that alternative technologies such as Apple Pay enable a more secure transaction, retailers are still using their own competitive solutions—such as Merchant Customer Exchange—potentially depriving customers of better security and leaving the door open for a breach.
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    Retailers Should Take a Tip From Banks
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    Retailers Should Take a Tip From Banks

    What banks do really well is assure consumers that they have tools in their security arsenal to mitigate risk and protect their customers. Today, very few, if any, retailers have instilled this same type of trust with consumers.
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    Use a Phased Approach
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    Use a Phased Approach

    Rather than completely overhauling and immediately implementing new POS terminals inside every retailer (which can seem like a daunting process), deploy one or two per store to start and advertise to customers that alternative options are available. Then continue replacing POS terminals at a steady pace. This increases security posture for the retailers, reduces risk and ensures that customers are secure.
 

Due to the increasing frequency of data breaches—from inside sources and malicious outsiders—retailers that utilize online sales strategies need to increase customer awareness of the security best practices they are implementing to protect credit card information. This is especially important with the holiday buying season now in full swing. Recent attacks on high-visibility stores such as Target, Home Depot, Michael's and a score of other business-to-consumer companies have put much fear and doubt into many potential customers. However, despite constant reports of stolen credit card numbers, PINs and other personal information, there are ways that retailers can mitigate the problem quickly in order to assuage customers. This slide show brings together the elements of communication, technology and process to minimize the damage caused by a data breach. Developed using eWEEK reporting and industry insight from endpoint threat detection and response provider CounterTack, this feature offers a series of steps retailers can use to control their messages—and maintain their corporate images—to consumers.

 
 
 
 
 
Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz
 
 
 
 
 
 

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