As the holiday season shifts into high gear, many retailers are focusing increased attention on protecting the personal, credit and debit card information of their customers.
eBay Enterprise's 2014 Holiday Retail Audit found that 65% of larger retailers have heightened concerns about data security. In light of that, a growing number of businesses have beefed up their cyber security to prevent tech-savvy thieves from hacking their systems and stealing customer data. Efforts include putting in place entirely new infrastructure for electronic payment systems.
“We're in a data-driven environment now, especially with retail," said Craig Peasley, head of product marketing for eBay Enterprise. "Retailers need to make security and privacy of utmost importance. And if they do, they can leverage this data to provide a better customer experience that ultimately increases loyalty."
While 77% of retailers surveyed by eBay Enterprise reported that they have not experienced a security breach, there have been hacker infiltrations at Kmart, Home Depot, Neiman Marcus, Walgreens and eBay this year. Last month, the U.S. Postal Service revealed that its system was hacked, putting information on customers and employees at risk. One of the highest-profile cyber breaches occurred during the 2013 holiday season at Target, which announced that the data of 40 million customers was compromised.
Experts say it remains to be seen if the new safety bulwarks retailers are putting in place will provide adequate consumer protection during this year’s heavy shopping season. "The hackers are definitely out there in full force,” says Eva Velasquez, CEO of the nonprofit consumer advocacy Identity Theft Resource Center. “There are a lot of other vulnerabilities, which is why we encourage best practices for businesses and shoppers.”