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6 Easy Steps Non-Retailers Can Cash In on Black Friday

November 23, 2015



Use Black Friday to improve privacy and corporate security practices.

Black Friday is the day that retailers hope to cash in on the holiday gift-giving spirit. Retail businesses hope to be a part of the more than $50 billion generated on Thanksgiving weekend alone. The problem is, when people purchase presents, they also give out private information. People will open new credit card accounts, register as users on new shopping sites, sign up for newsletters on websites, give out mailing addresses, and even divulge their child’s personal information. All of these activities, and more, open the way for fraud and identity theft.

According to IBM’s “2014 Cyber Security Intelligence Index,” 95% of all security incidents involve human errors. All studies point the same direction showing employees are your greatest business asset yet their behaviors pose your greatest security risk. Depending on the size of your organization or business the benefits and savings from best practices and improved behaviors can be measured in thousands, millions, or billions of dollars.

Therefore, it is more important than ever to invest in your employees’ personal security and privacy habits. Their habits with their personal information are the same as their habits with your company’s information.

Here are six fun tips for informing your non-retail employees on how to improve their personal privacy habits during Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. These methods will result in improved employee morale and in their having better security and privacy habits within your organization.

Schedule a “Shopping Lunch”

Plan to hold a brown bag gathering. Better yet, supply a light lunch. Call the session something creative and interest-getting like “Shop Right” or “Let’s Shop”. Avoid work-related terms and jargon such as “this quarter”, “program”, “corporate”, “team”, etc. Chat about the excitement of shopping on Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. Get really down-to-earth and share your ‘shopping self’ rather than play your regular role as “the boss”. Fire up the mega flat screen in your conference room and show some seasonal images. Play holiday music in the background.

Keep It Informal

Don’t introduce any titles here. Your privacy team, if you’ve formed one, must help plan and attend, but this is no venue for experts or staff introductions. Everyone here will be an expert by virtue of personal shopping experiences, joining the discussion, learning, and contributing in the long-term – throughout the year ahead. The idea is that everyone has an equal opportunity to learn and own their best security and privacy practices.

Spend Some Money

brownie on a white wood background. tinting for dessert

Win employees over with some catered desserts like blondie bars, twisted lemon hand pie, cheesecake brownie bars, and lemon bars. You get the drift! Corner Bakery and the likes will hook you up. Let’s face it, if you can afford notifying employees of a data breach for $588 per head, save some money here and become a hero by springing for some baked goods. Keep things casual but have a goal. This should be lightly moderated by their peers. At the end of the gathering you want them to ponder their personal privacy habits and take that to the stores, and then bring important lessons back to the work environment. Rather than guaranteeing immunity, you’re building a culture of sensitivity to security and privacy. Chat about those unbelievable social media, online, and in-store deals that retailers are enticing consumers with.  Ask who is using the best security strategies for their personal computers and networks – those folks should share a few tips on online shopping. The first sign that the gathering is going well is noise. There should be a lot of thunderous laughing and chatter!

Share Tips and Tricks

Discuss covert tricks and conditions that retailers use to lure consumers and how consumers can maneuver around them. An example of a question to pose is “What do you do when asked to sign-up for something that requires you to give up your kids’ info to get a discount or to take advantage of store credit card deals?” Let people share the good, the bad, the horrors, and the humor of retailers prying too much before giving up that extra 10% more in discount. If you have a privacy analyst in the group, this might be the best time for them to provide wisdom, but tactfully. Something along the lines of “As a best practice I don’t personally give that information because usually I just do A, B, and C first before I consider D. I recommend that you try that as you shop both online and in-store”.  Let everyone initiate picking the expert’s brain rather than the expert dulling things up with too much to say. As the boss, come prepared to ask a follow-up question or present your shopping issue and let your people advise you on it. Let them know their insights are valued.

Foster Word of Mouth

Let employees share amongst themselves opinions or reviews on electronic appliances and gadgets from smart watches to heart-rate trackers. There’s nothing like word of mouth from their peers who have experienced a particular product for themselves and have already mastered the privacy factors.  Questions like “Did anyone read the article of privacy issues with the latest smart TVs,” is the direction you want this to go. Ask them to chime in on privacy concerns with new gadgets, trends, new credit cards, retailers, and shopping technologies. Discuss how they’re protecting themselves and family members.

End On a Happy Note and With A Follow-up

Once you get the noise going and are taking mental notes, how do you end this exciting chatter? Share examples of a few retailers that have great deals. Then clear your throat slightly and announce with much friendly enthusiasm, “Everyone, I like this, let’s do this again…” Use this opportunity to ask each person to bring back unique situations of privacy and security implications and discuss them on the Wednesday after the shopping weekend wraps up. “I can’t wait to hear back from everyone,” is another good ending phrase. Yet another might be “Who wants to collect the summary by email on Tuesday?” Promise you’ll note all participants and pick out your top 5 or 10 from each division or team for your next discussion. Exit the meeting discreetly giving them freedom to chat-up for another 15 minutes before they disperse. When you meet again, show genuine interest in your people and discuss some of the best online and in-store deals they each snagged up. Surprise them with door prizes. Really, spend a little.


Remember, you’re spending a fraction of the money you’re saving from security incidents. Nothing brings you up close and personal with your people like positive surprises, shopping and sweets. This is your privacy statement except you’re not using words here. This is the kind of inexpensive management support your employees could use and appreciate. It puts money back in your pocket. It’s a great way to begin and enjoy the holiday season and all seasons of your business. Start now, build, support, and reward employees who think and live best practices for privacy and cybersecurity at home and at work. You’re helping prevent human errors, data compromises and building resilience against attacks. The only difference is, you’re starting from the root, the people, and you’re making them more conscious by relating to their personal lives. This costs far less than incidents and liabilities. Let privacy and cyber security awareness be your corporate family’s tradition, culture, and habit. To secure the organization, secure the individual!

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