Mobile Security in the Era of COVID-19
In the last year, we've seen a surge in consumers’ use of mobile technology in ways that no one could have predicted. Smartphones and other mobile tech are being used for more than just easy and accessible communications, doing everything from conducting conference calls to hosting virtual happy hours despite the challenges put forth by COVID-19. For the retail industry, in particular, mobile now serves as one of the most critical means of streamlining daily operations, developing better customer experiences, and driving sales.
With brick-and-mortar stores of all sizes closing amidst COVID-19, retailers are still expected to deliver the same quality of service through the click of a mouse or tap of a button that they’d normally provide in person. Therefore, while mobile security might not be top-of-mind for retailers that have pivoted to digital channels in order to stay in business, it must be considered as they begin planning for 2021.
According to the 2020 Verizon Mobile Security Index, 87 percent of retailers acknowledged that a mobile security breach or attack could have a lasting impact on their customers’ loyalty, yet nearly half of them reportedly sacrificed mobile security in the interest of streamlining day-to-day tasks, putting them at greater risk of being compromised. So, the question becomes: How can retailers thwart mobile cyber threats to protect their customers and employees without hurting their operations and bottom line?
More Mobile, More Problems
For brick-and-mortar stores forced to shift to e-commerce, mobile plays an essential role in providing customer experience and convenience through largely noncontact offerings like self-service kiosks and mobile point-of-sale purchases. And over the past few years, more retailers are choosing to use mobile devices to enable cloud-based technologies. The Mobile Security Index found that 62 percent of retailers said that more than half the new business information they create is stored in the cloud.
Given the strong dependency on Internet of Things (IoT) services and the cloud, retailers face heightened security vulnerabilities. If an attack were to occur, it risks turning a loyal customer away forever. Moreover, 80 percent of retailers reported that mobile will be their primary means of accessing cloud-based services within the next five years. This growing reliance on the cloud emphasizes the importance of having a secure digital network, and makes it crucial to a retail organization’s survival.
Protecting Mobile Security in Retail, in Detail
Strengthening mobile security might not seem like a major priority for retailers, but it is a business imperative if they hope to keep their doors — physical or virtual — open. By taking the proper measures to strengthen mobile security, organizations can prevent their data from being compromised and damaging their reputation. Implementing specific actions and policies also ensures that the business does not experience long-term consequences, financial or otherwise, that come with a cyberattack or data breach.
Part of maintaining effective standards and practices for mobile security requires having enough buy-in from managers and employees alike to ensure there's both understanding and commitment from all involved. If managers and employees aren't on board, businesses face potential vulnerabilities that can compromise their internal infrastructure.
Here are five measures that retail business owners can take to encourage employee buy-in and strengthen their mobile security platforms:
- Institute mandatory trainings to educate all employees on how to report suspicious behavior when it comes to mobile devices. Restricting the use of unvetted cloud applications while limiting devices that use trusted networks and VPNs to access cloud-based services will ensure your organization is protected.
- Set and communicate company policies regarding creating passwords and using two-factor authentication.
- Change and reset all vendor-supplied passwords and avoid reusing the same ones. Additionally, retailers should be deploying mobile threat detection software to help catch future vulnerabilities.
- Encrypt all data sent over unsecured networks and educate users on the dangers of public Wi-Fi, and block the use of unknown or unsecure Wi-Fi networks.
- Limit employees to installing apps from vetted sources, block those downloaded from the internet, and restrict access to data on a need-to-know basis.
Businesses no longer have to break the bank to create and implement a mobile security strategy — many are accessible at little to no cost and provide retailers with peace of mind knowing their data is safe. By taking simple precautionary measures, companies can ensure they’re protecting the core of their business.
Michele Dupré is a group vice president at Verizon Enterprise Solutions, and is responsible for enterprise customers in the retail, hospitality and distribution verticals, as well as customers headquartered in Canada.
Michele Dupré is a group vice president at Verizon Enterprise Solutions and is responsible for enterprise customers in the Retail, Hospitality & Distribution Verticals as well as customers headquartered in Canada. In this capacity she is responsible for maintaining and growing a base of more than 160 vertical enterprise customers and over 1000 customers in Canada.
In her role, Michele is charged with driving sales strategy while focusing on acquiring new customers, increasing profitable revenue growth and maintaining the global customer base. Additionally, Michele leads the development and growth of her enterprise leadership and sales team.
Michele’s organization is comprised of sales, sales operations and support personnel who drive business solutions including network and managed services, security, mobility, collaboration, professional services and outsourcing.
Previously, Michele was group vice president for enterprise customers for the Central U.S. Region. With revenue responsibility in excess of $1B and over 3000 accounts she led one of the largest areas in the U.S. In her prior role she was area vice president for enterprise customers in Illinois & Wisconsin and had revenue responsibility in excess of $500M. Before that, she was a branch vice president of Sales for Premier Accounts where she led a team of sales and service professionals responsible for some of the largest global and Fortune 100 Customers’ in Chicago and Wisconsin.
Michele started her career with the legacy company, MCI, in 1988 and has over 25 years of industry experience. Based in Chicago, Michele is also a noted contributor to media publications including Women’s Wear Daily, CNBC.com, USA Today and Forbes among others.