Facing the Cybersecurity Challenges of the Retail Sector
Retail’s Cyber Threat Environment: Debit Cards, Credit Cards, and Surviving as a Popular Target
The Internet, technological evolution, and the “always on, always connected” nature of humanity today certainly enables many convenient capabilities. We can order dinner with the swipe of a finger, reserve movie tickets instantaneously and purchase clothing within seconds. Sure, it’s useful, but the extent to which we’re digitally processing payments today poses quite a few security challenges for the retail sector.
- According to Verizon’s 2016 Data Breach Investigations Report, retail accounts for 6 percent of data breach incidents.
- 38% more security incidents were reported in 2016 than in 2014, but security incidents within the retail sector surged by 154%, as reported by Information Age.
The ability to instantly process payments through the Internet means that retailers are at risk for many information security problems. Debit cards, credit cards and innovative methods of payment are exposing the retail sector to vulnerabilities that all market participants need to be aware of and protected against. Retail by its very nature makes it a popular target for hackers. The shelf life of financial data isn’t very long, but if it’s compromised and used quickly enough, a cybercriminal can do a lot of damage.
The resulting pressures for the retail sector as a whole, as summed up by the National Retail Federation, are centered on protecting customer relationships. Building and maintaining trust in the marketplace is a primary focus for retailers, and they’re tackling it by investing in technology that will be effective in the fight against fraud and data theft. Not to mention, achieving and maintaining PCI DSS compliance adds a significant additional burden.
Why Cybersecurity in Retail Poses Such Challenges, and What they’re Up Against
Cybersecurity in retail is such a difficult undertaking because it’s a never-ending battle; there isn’t a truly secure future state that retailers can achieve. Data breaches are a constant threat because cybercriminals troll for financial data around-the-clock, always on the lookout for credit card numbers that can be converted into currency, as explained by the NRF. Cybersecurity is, in essence, a nonstop game of leapfrog—each time a new level of security is developed by businesses, cybercriminals overcome it.
As reported by Cisco, the top security threats for retailers are:
- Mobile devices
- The IoT
- Network infrastructure vulnerabilities
- Storing and securing sensitive data
The more information that appears on the web, that more vulnerable it becomes to threats. Retailers are grappling with figuring out a way to align networks, systems, and company cultures in an effort to enable better security without sacrificing the benefits of digitalization.
There is hope for retail, in spite of the overwhelming frequency of attacks. According to Deloitte, placing particular emphasis on four key themes which illustrate the current state of cybersecurity in retail will aid businesses in developing a strategy that can work.
- Recognizing that compliance is not risk management
- Focusing on breach response readiness
- Engaging in external intelligence sharing
- Viewing cyber risk as a business issue
Digital Certificates as a Solution for Retail
There are a lot of layers to a full-blown security strategy for a retail business, and every business’ strategy is different, depending on their unique needs and objectives. Ultimately, your customers have to be able to trust in your ability to defend their data.
Recognizing the criticality of PKI as a security platform and properly making use of digital certificates for securing payments is a powerful step in the right direction. Working with a partner for the management of PKI and digital certificates can allow your IT organization to focus on more critical projects, while saving money, time, and enhancing security.