Black Friday Illustration

Keeping Data Secure during Black Friday

Black Friday has become one of the most profitable retail days of the year with businesses around the world rushing to adopt it as a way to boost seasonal sales. While discounts are available both in stores and online, the digital medium has become a preferred alternative to the rush and potential stampedes that earned the Friday after Thanksgiving its ominous title.

2019 is set to break all previous records with US retailers alone expected to pull in as much as $7.5 billion in online spending on Black Friday, an increase of more than 20% from 2018, according to Adobe Analytics.  Hot on the heels of Black Friday, Cyber Monday is now emerging as the biggest day for online shopping during the holiday season in the US, with sales predicted to total $9.4 billion, up 18.9% from the previous year.

The scramble for discounts means businesses will be dealing with a heavy influx of data and cybercriminals will be on hand to profit from any vulnerabilities caused by the strain company networks are likely to experience during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It may also mean that companies’ employees will be working over-time and may be more prone to mistakes because of the sheer volume of orders they will be dealing with, opening themselves up to both errors and social engineering.

Here are our tips on how to ensure that your data is secure during Black Friday and Cyber Monday both from opportunistic outsiders and fatigued insiders:

1. Vigilance is key

It’s important that employees are briefed on the potential threats they may experience during the Black Friday rush. Raising awareness and conducting cybersecurity training can prepare them for potential phishing and social engineering attacks that use copycat emails, text messages and infected attachments to gain access to sensitive information or network credentials.

Knowing how to recognize such attacks, what steps need to be taken to ensure they are unsuccessful and having the proper mechanisms in place to easily flag them to the IT department will help deal with threats efficiently during the busy discount days.

2. Don’t cut corners

Given the large amounts of incoming data, companies might be tempted to neglect security practices to ensure that they maximize customer data collection so it can later be used to gain insights into buyer behaviour. However, businesses must keep in mind that any lapse in data security is likely to attract the unwanted attention of data protection authorities. Noncompliance with data protection regulations such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) can result in massive fines and long-lasting damage to a brand’s reputation.

Companies should therefore ensure that their security policies are kept compliant with data protection regulations at all times. While such policies can be seen as cumbersome when dealing with large amounts of data, businesses can choose flexible granular solutions to enforce them. These products can be tailored to their particular needs, ensuring compliance and an efficient way of protecting their data with a minimum impact on data processing and employee productivity.

3. Protect data directly

While using traditional cybersecurity solutions like antiviruses or antimalware can help prevent outsiders from stealing sensitive information, companies must also ensure that employees’ mistakes do not lead to data leaks during this time of stress and distraction. Most security strategies rely on employee credentials to limit access to data, but this is difficult to achieve when all hands are on deck to process and review orders during Black Friday.

An easier way to ensure that sensitive information is protected is to directly secure the data. Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solutions can monitor, limit and block the transfer of sensitive data, ensuring it doesn’t leave the confines of a company network. In this way, employees are prevented from accidentally sending or posting sensitive information or using unauthorized third party services to transfer or edit documents containing personal data.

In conclusion

Black Friday can be an overwhelming experience especially for small and medium sized retailers, but no matter the influx of data, cybersecurity cannot be overlooked. The potential for a major data breach is higher around the holidays due to the increased volume of data collected which attracts unwanted attention from malicious actors and provides much larger room for error from employees. Which is why it’s important for companies to be extra careful and take all the necessary steps to ensure their data is just as protected during the holiday shopping rush as it is the rest of the year.

 

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