Application Security Taking Center Stage for Retailers
The interconnectedness and rapid development of mobile technology are revolutionizing the consumer market. Retailers have fully computerized mechanisms driven by complex applications to bring their products to the mobile market, which has introduced serious security flaws into the ecosystem that can damage customers and financial giants, jeopardizing entire retail chains. Hackers have increasingly exploited these vulnerabilities in unsecure web applications using tools that can easily be found online, resulting in numerous high-profile hackings.
In the past year, serious breaches impacting multinational corporations called into question retail software security. The most impactful of these attacks, sustained by Target late last year, was due to a third-party application that was integrated into Target's system without being properly screened. Over 70 million customer records with names and email addresses were stolen from point-of-sale stations, and about 2 million credit cards were stolen and resold on the black market. Similar attacks struck retail giant Neiman Marcus and popular restaurant chain PF Chang's, leading to unauthorized credit card activity and consumer data theft.
The common element between these staggering attacks was the presence of vulnerabilities in software and applications that were exploited. Retailers need to find and eradicate vulnerabilities to ensure the security of consumer data and prevent the next big breach.
Five Ways Retailers Can Secure Applications
1. Implement safe coding practices. While requiring special training for developers and security staff, these practices eventually save an organization time and resources. Safe coding includes using tested code for common tasks, implementing task-specific integrated APIs for various system tasks and denying simultaneous access to shared resources.
2. Create a secure software development life cycle (SDLC). The task of securing retail applications can be completed successfully only by developing them in a secure SDLC. With testing tools (e.g., Source Code Analysis) integrated into the development stages, vulnerabilities can be eradicated early. This is a cost-effective and resource-friendly strategy.