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How retailers can protect against data breaches

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During the recent Retail Congress Africa in Cape Town, MasterCard addressed various issues impacting retailers across Africa. A key topic discussed was the protection of data and what retailers can do to protect themselves from data breaches.
Retailers have much to consider when running their business, allocating capital towards operational expenses is usually at the top of their list, but emphasis should also be placed on developing and implementing a safety and security plan that will help protect the businesses valuable information and assets, or that of their clients.
In the event of a data breach the businesses reputation can be at risk and there may well be costs associated to securing the data, or unforeseen losses incurred as a result of the breach. Implementing an affordable and reliable data security plan will protect retailers in the long run.
MasterCard provides four quick tips on how retailers can protect themselves from a data breach, phishing attack or other information security risks.
* Empower and educate employees: Empowering employees with knowledge and necessary safeguards is the first line of defence. For example, do employees know that connecting to a public Wi-Fi hotspot can increase the risk of being hacked by a cybercriminal? When travelling locally or internationally, they should always use a trusted hotspot location, no matter how desperate they are to be connected.
* Be password protected: Hackers aren’t solely responsible for security leaks; individuals are also often to blame. Password protect your POS devices, phones, laptops, tablets and other connected devices. A strong password should be at least eight digits long, and contain upper and lower case letters and numbers. When possible, use symbols for added security. Passwords should also be changed regularly.
* Safeguard company information: As technology becomes more sophisticated, criminal’s tactics tend to become smarter. Malicious software that’s installed after opening a phishing email link gives criminals access to sensitive data stored on computers, and the company network. Ensure anti-virus protection is in place to detect suspicious activity before it’s too late.  If you are suspicious or have been a victim yourself, contact Stop IT Operations Service, available to all MasterCard debit and credit cardholders.
* Avoid double swiping: Double swiping at point of sale (POS) occurs when a payment card is swiped first in the POS device, and if the payment does not authorise, it is swiped again at the register – which should be avoided. This is because POS terminals are PCI certified and have data protection and built-in encryption technologies, unlike registers, which are vulnerable to this type of security breach. Retailers must integrate cash registers and POS terminals.