Keeping data safe: How retailers can better safeguard consumer information

Retailers’ role is expanding. Not only do they need to draw in customers with compelling products and offerings, but, in the 21st century, they also are wardens of terabytes of customer data — including credit cards and personal information, alongside their shopping behavior and preferences. Evident is looking to help minimize the risks that retailers take when acquiring sensitive customer data with its secure API that is used by such companies as TaskRabbit and Airbnb. Drug Store News spoke with Evident founder and CEO David Thomas about how it makes guarding personal data easier.

Drug Store News: Why is the need for cyber security increasing? What are the risks?

David Thomas: Money. Criminals can easily monetize the data they are stealing, either by leveraging it themselves for fraudulent activity or by selling it. Either way, they are getting paid. And, their opportunity is enormous because companies are handling and collecting more and more personal information. A hacker only has to find one vulnerability — one small lapse — and can potentially get access to volumes of sensitive personal data.

A security breach is a threat to both the business and the users who are impacted. The potential damage to a business’s reputation and credibility with its users is difficult to replace, no matter the scale or depth of a breach. The risk of a hack is no longer if, but when, making it critical for companies to prioritize and be proactive about security protocols now.

DSN: How does this impact the mass retail world?

DT: Retailers collecting even what seems like basic information, such as users’ email addresses or birth dates, are at risk of a breach, especially if that information is housed in one centralized database. This threat is only exacerbated when a business considers the amount of information they are collecting as part of the hiring process.

Fortunately, retailers don’t have to choose between collecting data that allows them to customize a user’s experience and the ability to protect themselves from a hack. There are more effective ways to share personal data between retailers and individuals without the risk and liability that currently exists today.

DSN: What can retailers do to minimize risks, and what are the costs associated with this?

DT: Retailers need to reevaluate the way they store and manage personal data. They can now acquire the verified personal data they need without having to hold or manage personally identifiable information, or PII, in one place. Any centralized database holding personal information will be vulnerable to a breach. The only way to prevent that is to find a streamlined solution that allows retailers to connect to the data that is needed to operate without requiring them to be responsible for holding and protecting that data within their infrastructure.

Traditional data management can be expensive when businesses consider the time and resources required to maintain and secure personal data. However, retailers can reduce their security costs by working with partners that minimize the amount of information that retailers are required to hold and manage.

DSN: What does Evident offer retailers, and how would the two work together?

DT: Our flexible platform allows businesses to acquire the data they need with less risk and friction. With regard to customers, Evident allows retailers to provide a more secure and customized shopping experience for their users. They also have the ability to verify and authenticate users more effectively, reducing the risk of fraud across their platform.

For hiring workers, retailers can create a process that gives them the verified information they need without requiring them to hold or manage sensitive personal data. We also enable companies to stay current in the verifications they have already completed. Companies receive alerts when something important changes in a user’s profile, ensuring access to the most updated data. And with connections to thousands of attributes, we help businesses scale more quickly, giving them access to all the verified information they need.
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