As cyber-attackers continue to evolve their methods and experiment with new attack avenues, these are a few of the critical IT security challenges that retailers face.
1. IoT risks
There’s no doubt that IoT is transforming how retailers perform routine activities. With the help of IoT sensors, retailers are improving inventory management, product tracking, predictive maintenance and foot traffic analysis. However, every connected sensor is a potential entry point for cyber-attackers. Without effective network protection and access controls, retailers leave themselves vulnerable to unwanted intrusions and DDoS attacks. Store visitors also expect Wi-Fi at all retail outlets now, and this creates further risk, especially if effective authentication protocols are not put in place.
2. Supply chain risks
Several retailers now implement end-to-end technologies for their logistics and finance operations. This approach results in a trail of third-party vendors and suppliers who possess sensitive customer data, but who may not necessarily have the same amount of network security. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and any vulnerability in this interconnected network of the supply chain can negatively affect a retailer and its customers. Data breaches due to hacks into third-party networks have become a common occurrence as a single network vulnerability can expose all supply chain partners to security risks.
3. GDPR non-compliance risks
This brings another contemporary issue to the fore – that of the European Union’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) data privacy regulation. As retail merchants increasingly have more control and access over private user information, they have to find foolproof ways to ensure the safe storage, movement and processing of this data. Retailers have to be more careful than ever about whom they share such information with and how they save it. The slightest misstep can cause public outcry and chaos with irreversible damage for retailers. They also need effective encryption mechanisms and specialists in place to maintain GDPR compliance.
4. Human errors and security risks
Like any other customer-focused industry, the retail sector also depends on multiple human transactions and human nature for several tasks. Untrained or unaware employees can create unwanted security risks. Downloading phishing links, plugging in unsafe USB devices or falling for social engineering techniques are relatively common occurrences in the retail industry. No matter how much technology advances, the element of human error is one that will never entirely go away. Cyber-attackers know that this remains a weak point for retailers and thus target the human element even more.
Retailers should also remember that sacrificing network security and integrity for customer experience is not advisable. Many times, security becomes just an afterthought for retailers as they view it through the lens of the impact it will have on customer experience. This is not the best way forward, as a single data breach can severely impact reputation, brand loyalty and business performance. Improving security awareness within retailers should thus be of utmost importance.
This awareness comes from being in-the-know about emerging threats in the retail network security landscape and preparing for them adequately. Customer data should be encrypted, apps should be authenticated, and transactions should be vetted at every stage to deliver customer privacy.
At Tata Tele Business Services, we take our customers’ data security very seriously. Get in touch with us to learn how we help retailers uphold user security and privacy with our DDoS Protection, Secure Connect and Virtual Unified Threat Management (vUTM) security solutions.
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