Ensuring Data Security When Using Wireless Networks

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Whether they’re thinking about it or not, consumers should be nervous about sharing their data.

Retail in 2017 is heavily geared towards online and mobile users and, for physical stores, one of the best ways to tap into this market is by providing in-store incentives, such as Wi-Fi access, in return for their customer’s data.

Along with Internet access, many retailers also offer exclusive discounts and promotions as an extra motivation for shoppers to pass on their details. The valuable data harvested can then be used to inform future marketing plans and target communications directly to the store’s customer base.

According to recent research, almost one in four shoppers are happy to share basic personal data over in-store Wi-Fi in return for discounts on products they’re interested in. However, the survey also found that 63% of people were concerned about their personal details being stolen when they share data in exchange for Wi-Fi network access, as well as 89% fearing being bombarded by unwanted messages when they log on to retailers' networks.

In terms of the data consumers are willing to share with retailers, most will happily share basic details such as their name (86%), gender (83%) and email address (69%) but few are prepared to share more specific details such as their monthly expenditure (10%), address (11%) or salary band (15%) . These details can be used by the retailer to better inform future marketing, but also put the customer at risk of invasive communications and even identity fraud if it falls into the wrong hands.

If consumers are willing to provide retailers with their personal data, the least the retailer can do is to take care of the information and ensure it is not made available to anyone the consumer has not agreed to have access to it. There are significant fines for organisations that do not provide adequate protection for customer data and allow it to fall into the wrong hands.

It’s not just the security of the data that is important however, as retailers must also be careful not to use it inappropriately in any way. Smart communication plans, for example, will put retailers in much better stead with their customer base than retailers that ‘spam’ their consumers. This is more than just ‘playing it cool’ with the customers – people are likely to be put off your brand if they risk an onslaught of emails or notifications just as a result of making the most of the services that retailers are offering.

Consumer security should be incredibly important to any IT service provider and to any retailer. Service providers that hold a PCI Attestation of Compliance and are a PCI QIR (Qualified Integrator and Reseller) can provide retailers and their customers with the highest level of security, ensuring there is minimal risk to the public when sharing their information.

Not all IT service providers offer such a high level of protection however, and retailers could be putting themselves and their customers’ data at risk simply by using a provider or service plan that does not offer them complete cover. When implementing any in-store mobile incentives, it is vital that retailers consider how they are protected and ensure they offer their customers the highest level of security possible, or they risk financial penalties and damage to  their reputation and customer base for a long time to come.




Fiona Cowlam

The blogs I will post will be from various member of the Barron McCann team. From the MD to our Service Managers, Workshop team and Engineers. We will be commenting on all the issues that our customers in retail and government face and share our expertise and experience as a major supplier of IT Service across the UK and Europe.


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