Merchants have an ethical and legal obligation to protect their customers’ privacy. Yet when it comes to the threat of data breaches, many merchants—especially smaller businesses—take solace in the attitude that “it won’t happen to us”. Unfortunately, the data doesn’t back this up.By 2019, data breaches and cybercrime are expected to surpass $2 trillion in costs to U.S. businesses.
Merchants have an ethical and legal obligation to protect their customers’ privacy. Yet when it comes to the threat of data breaches, many merchants—especially smaller businesses—take solace in the attitude that “it won’t happen to us”. Unfortunately, the data doesn’t back this up.By 2019, data breaches and cybercrime are expected to surpass $2 trillion in costs to U.S. businesses. As much as 70 percent of the data breaches that occur each year involve small businesses.Not only do data breaches represent massive financial costs, but they can also drive away customers. One survey found more than 50 percent of consumers will terminate a relationship with a brand if the brand falls victim to a cyberattack that jeopardizes customers’ personal info. Beyond the costs to your business, allowing your customers’ privacy to be breached puts them at financial and personal risk.For these reasons, it’s critical for merchants to take data security seriously. Here are five ways merchants can help protect their customers’ privacy.1. Take stock. Startups and small businesses too often fall into the trap of “winging it” when it comes to consumer privacy, which means they’re hopelessly unprepared in the event of a data breach. It’s critically important to think about customers’ privacy before it become an issue. To that end:
2. Limit data acquisition. Many companies collect more customer data than they actually need. By restricting data collection to only the information that’s essential for you to do business, you limit the amount of harm that could be incurred by a data breach.3. Secure what you keep. Once you’ve narrowed down the information you’ll keep, designate how (and how long) you’ll store this information. For example, plan to delete all credit card numbers after a certain period. Additionally, take the following steps to secure any information you store: