In the digital era, information protection has become a top priority across all industries. The retail industry is no exception.
The collection and use of data is now an integral part of day-to-day business practices and processes in the retail world. But what does data protection really entail? Is your loss prevention team responsible for managing data protection? Here’s a straightforward data protection definition to get you started.
According to Jac Brittain, LP Magazine’s digital editorial director, “Data protection in the retail industry involves the process of safeguarding important company, employee, customer, and other valued information from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, inspection, recording, corruption, or destruction. It further includes those measures necessary to detect, document, and counter such threats.”
Distilled down to its essence, however, all that is simply to say that data protection involves the careful management and defense of ALL of a company’s information assets—from both internal and external threats.
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But why is this important? For starters, it’s crucial to recognize the sheer quantity of potentially sensitive information handled by retail organizations on a daily basis. Financial records, personnel files, and customer data have always been integral to daily business processes, but now the majority of that information is stored online—where it may be vulnerable to attacks by cyber criminals or even employee data theft.
Preventing an information security breach is important; hackers can use stolen data in all kinds of malicious ways. But retailers have another reason for protecting and maintaining the integrity of their data: consumer trust.
The relationship between a retailer and their customers is a unique one that should be grown and nourished over time to create loyalty. Every time a retailer’s data breach hits the news, customer concern understandably grows. Yet collecting consumer data helps businesses create targeted marketing and better, more personalized shopping experiences. In order to continue doing so, retailers must take steps to ensure consumers feel safe and confident doing business with them. This task often falls to the loss prevention team.
LP often works together with information technology to defend against cyber security risks and exposures through efforts such as:
- Comprehensive education and awareness for all team members on potential data threats
- Strong network access controls and password requirements
- Ongoing information system maintenance updates and backups
- Creation of an organizational data breach policy and employee expectations for information security behaviors
LP Magazine offers a variety of resources and guidance on data network security. For more information, check out the data protection topic category page or our special FREE report on data protection: Data Security: Data Loss Prevention Best Practices and Proven Policies to Combat Data Breaches.
This article was originally published in 2016 and was updated April 11, 2018.