Retailers are at Serious Risk Storing Video Data

Retailers are at Serious Risk Storing Video Data

Video storage plays an increasingly important role for today’s omnichannel retailer. Algorithm based software monitors how many people enter/exit a store, the “hot spots” of heaviest traffic, and the effectiveness of displays based on location. Video Analytics started as a way to monitor theft and store fraud, but has evolved into an immensely valuable tool to deduce customer behavior with the end goal being a more effective purchasing environment. This storage of video data creates a risk for retailers, because this video footage must be cared for as if it is a competitive advantage or legal evidence.

Video Analytics Create a Competitive Advantage

Video analytics’ data tells you how your customers are interacting with your storefront. From counting customers to heat mapping where they are spending the most time in your store, retailers are able to maximize the time each customer spends in the store to guarantee that purchases will be made. However, there are some risks that an organization will face with the video storage. If the videos are stolen, then competitive advantage could be lost. From a customer perspective, if videos are lost or stolen, it could present liability issues, as some customers may not have agreed to be videotaped (regulatory/legal requirement to notify that the area is video-taped) Furthermore, if video of customers is stolen, loss of consumer confidence and angst would most likely occur because this would be viewed as an intrusion of privacy. Bottom line, video should be protected as if it was any other type of sensitive data.

Caught Red Handed

Security and surveillance are of such high importance to retailers, because unedited video does not lie. Criminals have no defense when their crimes are caught on camera. However, security issues arise, because these types of video actually are stored in the event of theft, so they must be cared for as if they are already legal evidence. If these videos, physical tape or electronic, are mishandled then the chain of custody is broken and their evidentiary value goes down the drain. Similar to law enforcement protocol, video storage needs a singular management protocol to guarantee that all criminal behavior will be held accountable, legally.

Companies must determine a chain of custody for tapes or electronic files to ensure the corporation is covered from a legal perspective. As rampant as fraud and theft are, it is paramount for companies to be prepared for these situations, as it is not a matter of if, but when. A chain of custody will also create a standardized process for the handling of fraud and theft.

Protect Your Data

Retailers must assign access controls to facilities where videos are recorded/stored. After assignment, the videos should be properly encrypted to protect physical tapes in transit or electronic video over the wire. Encryption is incredibly difficult to break, leaving retailers confident that any video they store will not be compromised.

Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is being breached at an historic rate. Video falls into this arena, as well as creates civil liability issues with customers if it is mismanaged. As a retailer, you have a legal responsibility to store PII data on your customers in a secure and responsible fashion. When done correctly, video storage can enhance your business significantly, while yielding a deeper insight into how your customers purchase products from you. Encrypting your videos, while maintaining strict access controls with a specific chain of custody should be your 3 simple rules to live by with video storage. Poor stewardship of sensitive data leads to lost consumer confidence, costly lawsuits, but most importantly, there is no way to measure the long term impact resulting from mismanaged personal information. Take the steps today to avoid becoming the next data breach casualty. 

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Topic(s): data security , PCI DSS , encryption , PII , tokenization

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