Retail companies need extensive data systems to keep shelves stocked, set prices correctly, and operate online stores. No one wants to wait while an employee checks a stockroom to see if an item is in. At times we complain about all the data stores keep on us, but not when it means we find out about a special discount at the register or when we get an email telling us a product we’ve been looking at has just gone on sale. And we also recognize that the government regulates, to one degree or another, what information businesses collect and how they use it. The real threat is from data breaches, which are becoming ever more widespread.

Where Threats Come From

While many businesses have to deal with problems from within, a 2013 IBM report shows that more than 80% of retail store hacks come from outside sources. In less than 1 in 5 cases, a data breach is an inside job or the culprit at least had help from the inside.

In fact, about half of security breaches either come from malicious code that has been placed on the company system, or some kind of reconnaissance technology that allows the hacker to glean information as it passes through—like card numbers being lifted as they are swiped at the register.

Retail Security Auditing – A Must

One of the major factors then for retail businesses is security auditing. Even the technology giant Google subjects itself to the most stringent of tests. Why? Whether we like it or not, we trust Google with our most sensitive data. Their servers remember every search we’ve ever made, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But Google protects that data like it’s the company’s multibillion-dollar livelihood—because it is. It’s the secret stash that makes paid search advertising work. Without that, Google is a non-profit (not exactly, but you get the idea).

So while we have to trust retail stores with our personal data, including financial information, for the sake of convenience, protecting that data is a major concern for retailers who don’t want to be part of a scandal. And security audits to ensure current measures are sufficient are a definite must for these brands. This holds true even if you run a local retail business.