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Building a Secure Omnichannel Experience from Bricks to Clicks

28 Oct 2015 by Bob Violino

There’s never been a more exciting — and challenging — time to work in the retail sector. Consumers now have a number of options when it comes to shopping: in physical stores, on the Internet, via their mobile devices or through a mix of channels.

This flexibility, made possible by technology, gives merchandisers new opportunities to reach more customers and sell more goods. But it has also brought on massive security risks. While retail technology has evolved to provide consumers with the freedom to shop however they choose, cybercriminals are on the hunt for their personal data.

Security threats the same despite tech trends

Following a data breach, it can cost retailers millions of dollars to respond, remediate and recover from the theft of sensitive customer data and intellectual property. And as the costs of data breaches rise and regulators add more compliance burdens, the security industry must find new ways to more comprehensively address the threats and keep proprietary data from falling into the wrong hands.

Forrester Research, in its report, “Top 11 Trends S&R Pros Should Watch: 2015” (July 2014), says “despite the new technologies and trends in security, nothing has really changed. The [focus] is still on outward-facing threats and point solutions. Don’t look to any one security vendor to solve your challenges; it can’t, and there is no ‘easy’ button here.”

While trends may influence a company’s security strategy and provide new technology approaches, Forrester says, retailers still need to put in place a security program that addresses people, process and technology; and create a roadmap for continuing to improve security maturity.

Enhancing the security program requires a risk-based approach that goes beyond a technical focus and brings together information management, risk management, brand protection, privacy, data governance, compliance and third-party relationship management, the firm says. Retailers must make it priority to build and retain customer trust.

Putting a continuing security program in place

At a high level, following are three things retailers need to do to build on their current security programs and meet today’s challenges.

Balance IT security with retail innovation. IT leaders at retail companies face a tough challenge: creating or maintaining strong security while supporting innovative technologies that enable omnichannel retailing.

Given the recent high-profile data breaches, cybersecurity is clearly a top priority for merchandisers. According to a report by the National Retail Federation and Forrester Research released in February 2015, managing data security is the most urgent focus area for retail CIOs, with 97% of the 84 executives surveyed putting it at the top of their 2015 priority lists.  

But the IT leaders also are looking to deliver a seamless experience across multiple touch points, citing omnichannel initiatives as a key business priority for IT. The survey showed that 76% highlight integrating selling channels (e-commerce, mobile, social, catalog and stores) as a business priority for 2015.

On the other hand, nearly one third of the CIOs surveyed expect their budget to be flat for 2015, and 34% expect a slight increase of less than 10%. That means executives need to be highly selective about which technologies they need to ensure security as well as support future business growth.

Ensure EMV compliance. On Oct. 1, the 2015 EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) Compliance Mandate began. Because of rising costs of fraud, credit card companies want retailers to deploy readers to accept EMV “smart cards,” which have an embedded microchip.

EMV is a global standard for chip cards and technology used to authenticate transactions. U.S. card issuing companies are shifting to the technology to better protect consumers and reduce fraud costs. For retailers, the shift means they need to implement chip-ready, point-of-sale terminals and the internal systems to support them.

The U.S. is one of the last countries to move to EMV chip technology, and retailers that don’t have chip-card readers will be held liable for some fraudulent transactions when a loss occurs from accepting payments through a magnetic stripe card reader. Any retailers that haven’t already deployed the technology need to move fast.

Bolster cloud and mobile security. Retailers, like other types of businesses, increasingly are relying on cloud services, and mobile devices and apps to support key processes.

While many cloud providers deploy strong security platforms to ensure data protection for clients, retailers need to ensure that sufficient security measures are in place.

And with a growing number of workers using smartphones, tablets and other devices, retailers should considering deploying tools such as mobile device management and enterprise mobility management to get a better handle on how devices are used in the workplace, and to make sure systems and data are protected.

What else is trending in security technology? Gain a greater understanding of emerging security solutions and how they can impact your organization. Get in touch with Insight at 1.800.INSIGHT for help striking the balance between the allure of brick-and-mortar locations, and the convenience of technology. We're not just experts in the hardware, software and security that you need to create a modern retail experience — we're experts in implementation and integration.