By Seth Weisblatt, AVB/BrandSource

Yahoo, Facebook, Marriott … some of the world’s biggest brands have all been victim to poor security and massive data breaches.

According to security software provider Norton, at least 4.1 billion records were exposed through data breaches last year through November, including credit card numbers, home addresses, phone numbers and other highly sensitive information.

But the issue is not limited to global companies. BrandSource members can be also affected by data breaches, which begs the question: How is your business safely holding your customers’ information?  Fortunately, BrandSource has the tools to help members protect their customer data and to navigate a changing tide of privacy and consumer policies.

One of the latest changes is in California. The California Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA, went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, allowing consumers to know what personally identifiable information (PII) is collected by a business and website. This includes a host of information that doesn’t typically raise red flags, but which can be triangulated with other data to create a profile of a specific individual that includes biometric info, browsing history, education, employment records, and even personality traits.

And if the consumer wishes to have that trail of personal breadcrumbs deleted, businesses have 72 hours to comply or face a fine! 

In addition, elements of a recent European initiative, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), are likely to be adopted by the U.S. in the next few years. Like the CCPA, a key component of GDPR is an opt-in and notification message giving the consumer the awareness and opportunity to acknowledge that your site will be tracking their online presence. 

AVB Marketing is on top of these regulations and will soon release the information and tools to help your business remain compliant. 

As for other steps you can take to ensure that your customers’ data is safe, we asked our Sacramento technical and security team to share some advice and provide a look ahead. 

Yu Lee, AVB Marketing’s Administrator for the Magento eCommerce platform, suggests that “Members should not request sensitive PII such as credit card details from customers by chat or email.”  While it might seem easy and convenient to uses these tools to help process an order, they are typically insecure platforms and are easy targets for hackers, he said.

“At AVB Marketing, we implement security and privacy measures such as installing SSL certifications and blocking any malicious activities on member sites,” Lee continued. “We also recommend that members utilize the fraud protection features of their payment gateways like AuthorizeNet and PayPal.”

There’s no question that security was a top priority for the team in 2019, and what lies ahead this year is an even loftier goal: PCI Level 2 Compliance, which is among the toughest standards in the industry. As AVB CMO John White explained, “Most websites maintain Level 3 or 4 compliance, while Level 1 is for banks and large financial institutions. Level 2 is a significant step to show our members and their customers that AVB Marketing is the best and most secure platform with which to host your digital marketing effort.”

According to Peter Rozental, Director of Development at AVB Marketing, the group expects to attain Level 2 certification by the second quarter. “Level 2 certification is significant as it touches all aspects of our business to ensure we are following processes and guidelines to ensure the safety and integrity of our data,” he said. “It is a very detailed process that we are going through to pass certification protocols and tests.” 

As you can see, keeping your data and customer information safe, and your websites compliant, is a top focus for AVB Marketing.

Seth Weisblatt is Director of Furniture at AVB/BrandSource, publisher of YourSourceNews.