What Retailers Need to Know About Cybersecurity in 2019
The rise of Amazon.com has shaken up the shopping experience for consumers and retailers. For example, Instagram and other social media apps have added new features that make it easier for consumers to browse items without leaving the app, and smart speakers like Amazon Alexa have emerged as a rising tool for users to make purchases through voice searches.
But too often, cybersecurity remains an afterthought for both retailers and consumers. Loss of personal data and protecting against phishing scams take a backseat to what consumers think is most important — fast delivery times. For 2019, here’s what retailers need to keep in mind when using new, convenient technologies to improve the customer experience.
Social Engineering Attacks and Social Media Scams Remain Top Threats for Retailers
Major occasions like holidays and end-of-year sales mark the most important peak shopping times for retailers. In 2017 alone, the holidays accounted for one-fifth of sales at major stores.
As more consumers move to online shopping, they risk falling prey to phishing scams under the guise of unbeatable deals. Some of the top threats for retailers during peak shopping times include social engineering attacks (31 percent), social media scams (15 percent), and DDoS attacks (14 percent), according to a recent report by Infoblox.
Improving network security by monitoring for website traffic and unusual spikes of activity will be crucial for retailers this year. Educating employees on cybersecurity best practices can also go a long way in ensuring that they don’t expose company networks to malware by connecting their personal devices, like smartphones or laptops.
Network Security Becomes a Bigger Priority as IoT Devices Become More Popular
Having an Amazon Alexa around the house makes things like turning on lights and finding out about the weather easier than ever. Now, consumers are turning to these devices to make purchases. In fact, 40 percent are expected to do so by 2021.
While customer experience will always be a top priority for retailers, that doesn’t mean security should be any less important. Infoblox’s report showed a clear disconnect between retailers vs. their IT teams. Forty-four percent of retailers plan to implement more smart speakers in the next year, but 44 percent of retail IT professionals are concerned about these technologies being added due to the security threats they can bring.
Before installing new devices, retailers should be aware of any risks that come with them. Unpatched security vulnerabilities are among the top weaknesses that can lead to a network’s demise. To prevent this, retailers should only install devices with built-in security features, with the option to change passwords and maintain regularly scheduled patch updates.
Consumers Prioritize Speedy Deliveries Over Protecting Personal Info
After placing an order online, top of mind for consumers are delivery times — not protecting bank information or other personal data (which only 13 percent see as a concern). Most people take cybersecurity hygiene for granted until something goes wrong, only to wish that they had taken better steps to prevent it from happening in the first place.
Consumers need to understand the dangers of ID fraud and data breaches. Like retailers, they need to take necessary precautions to prevent disaster from ever striking by ensuring they only make purchases on secure Wi-Fi networks and encrypting passwords when possible.
By proactively taking steps to strengthen their network security, and only installing new technologies after carefully weighing the security risks that come with them, retailers can pave the way for a more successful and safer year ahead. Data breaches and cyber threats can have a serious impact on the lives of customers as well as the reputations of retailers. Therefore, by taking the time to create better security solutions, retailers will be off to a good start in 2019.
Victor Danevich is chief technology officer of Infoblox, a network management platform that brings next-level security, reliability and automation to cloud and hybrid secure DNS, DHCP, and IPAM (DDI) solutions.
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