Connected retail: The future of retail cybersecurity

by Bindu Sundaresan

Retail has changed, and it’s the use and dependence on technology that is at the heart of this change. The lessons learned from this past year teach us that no one is immune to cyberthreats. The sooner corporate boards and executives come to the understanding that cybersecurity breaches are a very real and pervasive threat; then the hard work can begin to take preemptive measures as well as prepare an appropriate response and recovery strategy.

In 2016, businesses will continue utilizing transformative digital tools to better communicate and serve customers in more efficient, yet impactful ways. While these tools are transformative, they need to be deployed in a thoughtful and considered manner so as not to possibly put sensitive information at risk. Trust and credibility brand traits are able to withstand hacks only if businesses invest in response and recovery efforts as diligently as they invest in cyberprotection.

Retailers are challenged on many fronts in their efforts to protect themselves and their customers, partners, and suppliers from cyberthreats. The next generation retailer must focus on the following 5 aspects when it comes to getting ready to meet the cybersecurity challenges for 2016:

  1. Invest in threat management as well as actionable threat intelligence and drive intelligence sharing within the retail community. Reinforce the security awareness messages among the staff and the customers.
  2. Regularly scan the IT infrastructure for vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, viruses, and malware at both the network and application level.
  3. Understand the threat vectors that are unique to your business operations, analyze payment security, and think beyond PoS security.
  4. Focus on consumer information protection and review your incident management process.
  5. Invest in technology to increase security from the store to mobile to the cloud.

Security challenges sometimes require trusted advisors to work with you hand in hand to solve these complex challenges. AT&T has worked with Helzberg Diamonds, an online and retail jewelry store with more than 220 stores nationwide, to more tightly align its disaster recovery services to its critical business processes. We created a business continuity assessment that clearly identified risks, analyzed potential business impact, and made recommendations. By providing the initial framework and continuing to mentor Helzberg Diamonds, AT&T helped identify potential disaster recovery costs and downtime that could be avoided in the event of a disaster to help prevent an adverse impact to the brand and customer relationships.