As the holiday shopping season descends upon retailers and shoppers, storm clouds of apprehension from recent data breaches continue to darken the perception of safety among some consumers. A recent study conducted by CreditCards.com and reported on by Huffington Post found that 45% of gift-grabbing respondents would “definitely not” or “probably not” shop at major retailers that suffered data breaches this year. The study also noted that 48% of shoppers said they would use cash instead of debit or credit cards, due to the high number of recent data breaches.
Given that retailers depend on holiday sales to meet their annual goals, losing nearly half of its holiday customer base either online or at a brick-and-mortar store could have devastating financial implications for these outlets. Make no mistake: Trust drives sales. And as the data above shows, once that trust is shaken, it can be difficult to rebuild.
Organizations need to focus on both continuing to shore up their defenses and their customers’ trust, as today’s vulnerability could be tomorrow’s casualty. During the holiday season, the temptation for hackers is at its highest. Below are a few steps your organization’s IT department should consider putting in place to ensure security this holiday season:
Because of this loss of trust, IT security staff of breached retailers should be especially vigilant during the holiday season; becoming deeply involved in helping the organization repair besmirched trust with customers to reinforce the assurance of safe shopping will be critical to this process. If your organization happens to experience a breach during the holidays, or even during the rest of the year, here are a few steps IT can take to help to restore trust:
The holidays are by far the most critical time for retailers to be thinking about security, but it shouldn’t be the only time. Breaches can happen out of the blue; use your position in IT to help keep grinches at bay and keep your customer’s information—and their trust in your business—secure. Breached organizations should follow these guidelines year-round, disclosing breaches quickly and transparently, and keeping the communication focus on protecting users in the future.