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Ensuring end-to-end security of customer data

An in-depth look at retailers and SOC 2 compliance

Retailers are increasingly aware of the need for strong cybersecurity measures, as their systems process and retain vast quantities of highly-sensitive customer data. 

While many industries face unique challenges in protecting this data, retailers are under greater pressure as nearly a quarter of all cyberattacks target retailers, which is more than any other industry. And it’s not just retailers who are worried, a whopping 90% of consumers are concerned about digital privacy, showing just how important security is when it comes to shopping.

Meaning, retailers cannot afford to be complacent— rigorous security measures need to be prioritized as a top concern.

The right approach to technology can help protect customers and serve them better. Even the best customer experience is meaningless if customers don’t feel safe doing business. 

Rigorous security compliance measures like SOC 2 audits, and proper training can be instrumental to the way retailers provide peace of mind to their customers.

What is SOC 2 compliance?

SOC 2 compliance reports evaluate controls at a service organization relevant to security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and/or privacy. These reports are conducted by independent auditors and can play an important role in internal corporate governance, vendor management programs, regulatory oversight, and oversight of the organization.

SOC 2 reports come in two types: Type 1 reports on the suitability of the design of controls in an organization, while Type 2 reports on both the suitability of the design and operating effectiveness of controls. Type 2 reports are indicative of the highest level of security compliance, as they require a more rigorous examination of an organization.

How does SOC 2 compliance impact retail?

In the modern world, information is a valuable currency. Gathering personal information is great for brands looking to build relationships with their customers, but it doesn’t resonate as well when that information is handed out to third parties. 

The systems retailers rely on need to be secure as they process and retain vast quantities of highly-personal customer data. Information like birthdays, phone numbers, emails, credit card numbers, and even purchase preferences are important to customer identities and should be treated with integrity. 

The retail point of sale (POS) is a mission critical system— dealing with extremely sensitive payment data— and needs to be the first in line when discussing security. Secure checkout is so important in today’s world. When it comes to our money, we want peace of mind, which is harder to come by in the digital age. Customers want to know that when they swipe, insert, or tap their card, their financial information is safe. Retailers that use SOC 2 compliant POS systems can give their customers security and privacy at checkout, with the proof to back it up. 

Clienteling is gaining popularity with retailers across the industry, and is just one area where SOC 2 compliance can assure customers. We’ve all gone to research or purchase something only to see that same item pop up in personalized ads and wonder “who is spying on me”? Clienteling systems that are SOC 2 compliant ensure that customer data, like contact information, doesn’t get stolen, which can mean a lot for people whose inboxes are blowing up with spam and junk. They also ensure that customer preferences are kept between the individual and the brand. 

How do you manage human risk?

Retailers also need to be aware of the human factors that can play a role in making information secure. This includes errors that lead to a breach or rogue employees who fail to follow proper procedures and policies. Retail CIOs need to develop strategies that empower in-store staff to keep information secure.

These strategies may include additional training sessions on a regular basis, clearly defined policies and procedures that are regularly reviewed and updated, strict access controls for sensitive data, and regular monitoring and auditing of employee activities. Additionally, it is important for retailers to have a strong culture of security, where employees understand the importance of information security and are encouraged to report any suspicious activity or breaches immediately. 

By implementing these strategies and fostering a culture of security, retailers can effectively manage human risk and mitigate the potential impact of any security incidents.

Bringing it all together

Overall, retailers need to prioritize cybersecurity to ensure the end-to-end security of their customer data. SOC 2 compliance can provide a rigorous security framework that can help retailers protect their customers’ data and build trust. Retailers can also manage human risk by empowering their in-store staff with proper training, policies, and procedures, access controls, and monitoring. 

By implementing these measures, retailers can create a strong culture of security, assuring their customers that their personal information is safe and secure. If you are interested in learning how SOC 2 compliant solutions can support your retail business, contact us today!

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