The importance of data security for retail point of sale
Good data security is crucial for any retail POS system. Here, we look at the risks associated with data, and provide tips on how retail store owners can protect their store and customer information.
Securing data is twofold. Firstly, data must be protected from cyber attacks and data breaches from malicious sources. Secondly, it must also be safely backed up to prevent loss, damage or deletion.
Data security is not only important from a store perspective, where losing data could be hugely inconvenient, time consuming, and costly to rectify. Businesses also have a legal obligation to protect the data that they collect and store from their customers.
The importance of data security for retail point of sale
The most common risk to data comes from the people who use it. Where many employees have access to store data, it’s easy for it to be edited, deleted, shared, or misused, simply through lack of proper knowledge and controls. It’s also possible that staff may deliberately misuse data, either to harm the company or for personal gain.
Outside threats have the potential to cause the most harm. Malware, ransomware, and phishing attacks from outside sources seek to steal, misuse or damage company data.
- Malware: Malware is malicious software that infects devices via email and websites, allowing data to be accessed, stolen, or damaged.
- Ransomware: Similar to malware, ransomware infects devices but it then encrypts their data. The attacker will demands a ransom to restore the data.
- Phishing: Phishing is an attempt to gain private information through deception. Phishing attempts are usually sent in the form of text or email links, which appear to come from a legitimate source. Following the link will trigger a malware download, or lead to a fake webpage that prompts the user to give away their sensitive data.
Hardware has limitations. If something happens to the hardware that stores the data, then the data too can be lost or damaged. There are a few potential risks when it comes to hardware.
- Accidental damage: Dropping the device that stores your data, or spilling water on it can harm both the device and the data.
- Disaster: Fire, flood, lightening are thankfully rare, but all potential threats to your data.
- Power cuts: A sudden loss of power can cause data loss on your storage device.
- Corruption: Errors can occur when processing or storing data.
- Theft: Most hardware can be stolen, and that means the data goes with it.
Where data is lost or stolen, it can cause significant problems for a business. These are some of the more common impacts:
- Trust: Company integrity and trust are important to customers. Data loss and breaches can damage the reputation of your company and lead to loss of business.
- Disruption: Recovering lost data is frustrating and time consuming. Worse again, sometime it cannot be recovered at all, and loss of information can be difficult for a business to manage. What do you do if you lose all your customer information?
- Financial: There are several possible implications here. The cost of time spent recovering and reorganising your business is just one. If you lose data concerning your debtors and customer accounts, you may lose track of what you are owed too, forcing you to write off debts. If your data is breached, scammers may divert payment for your services, or even hold your data to ransom for a fee.
- Legal action: Companies have an obligation to protect customer data, and therefore loss of data can have legal implications. Data loss can lead to court case, fines, and even closure in extreme cases.
Thankfully, there are a few things you can (and should) do to protect your business from the consequences of a data security failure.
- Control access: Create access settings on your point of sale system, and ensure all staff permissions are accurate, so that people can only view and edit the data they need for their roles. Setting up cashier codes also allows traceability of actions, and therefore promotes accountability in staff.
- Guidelines: Update your store policies to outline clear instructions and guidelines on data security. Ensure they are read and signed by everyone who accesses your data.
- Training: Train your staff fully, to reduce the risk of errors and losses. Ensure staff are competent when using your systems, and show them how to recognise and handle potential risks and threats.
- Back up: Have a regular back up procedure. You might be able to automate this to happen at an appropriate time each day, so it doesn’t get forgotten. This could be as simple as backing up your daily data to an external hard drive.
- Cloud storage: Cloud storage saves and back up your data away from your premises, so this has the added protection of saving your data elsewhere if your hardware should get damaged. There are professionals companies who can manage this, but make sure you choose a reputable firm, as they will of course have access to your data also.
- Secure your system: Carry out regular system updates, as they will include the latest security features. Uses strong passwords and update them regularly. Have your devices set to lock automatically when you are not using them. Make sure you have effective and up to date antivirus software in place.
The importance of good data security can’t be underestimated, so if you think yours might be lacking, today is the day to give it some attention. It’s easy to put it off, but in our digitalised world, the consequences of lax data security can be enormous to your business.
Who are we?
Retail Solutions is a market-leading EPOS provider with over 25 years of business experience. Our leading sectors are convenience stores, supermarkets, forecourts, pharmacies, off licences, and coffee shops.
We are dedicated to providing your store with the most up to date and reliable point of sale hardware, along with software management tools to help you manage your business effectively.
Our self-checkout partners are NCR, who are global leaders in self-checkout technology.
Want to know more? Contact us to see how you can improve your data security
About the author:
Susan McGuire is originally from London, United Kingdom, and has now lived in Galway, Ireland, for 15 years. She has been with Retail Solutions for almost 7 of those, and during that time has enjoyed various roles within the areas of Maintenance, Finance, & Marketing. You can follow her on LinkedIn!