Fortifying Retail Security: Essential Cybersecurity Tools and Software

The retail industry's digital transformation has introduced unparalleled conveniences for both businesses and consumers. However, this digital evolution has also brought about new security challenges.

Cybercriminals are continually developing sophisticated tactics to exploit vulnerabilities in retail networks and systems. To counter these threats, retailers must leverage cutting-edge cybersecurity tools and software. In this article, we'll explore some essential cybersecurity tools and software that are indispensable for securing the retail industry.

In 2020, U.S. consumers spent $861.12 billion on online retail transactions – 44% more than in 2019. Many retailers have launched or revamped their e-commerce stores, offering services such as curbside pickup, to help meet the growing demand.   While these trends create great opportunities, they also generate new attack vectors.

Retailers have always been attractive targets for cyber attackers. But now, cybersecurity issues in retail have become an even bigger concern.

Consider these recent retail cybersecurity statistics

  • 24% of cyberattacks targeted retailers, more than any other industry.
  • 34% of retailers said cybersecurity worries were their primary hindrance in moving to e-commerce. 
  • 34% also said that cyberattacks or privacy breaches were their most serious digital threat. 
  • Financial motives drove cyber attackers in 99% of retail cyberattacks. 
  • When data is compromised in an attack, 42% is payment information and 41% is personally identifiable data. 

Firewalls and Intrusion Detection/Prevention Systems
Firewalls and Intrusion Detection/Prevention Systems (IDS/IPS) are the front line of defense against cyber threats. Firewalls filter incoming and outgoing network traffic, allowing only authorized communication. IDS/IPS systems monitor network activity, identify suspicious patterns, and take action to prevent unauthorized access or data breaches.
Antivirus and Anti-Malware Solutions
Retailers need robust antivirus and anti-malware software to detect and eliminate malicious software from their systems. These solutions constantly scan for malware and suspicious files, providing real-time protection against known and emerging threats.
Endpoint Security Software
Endpoint security software secures individual devices (e.g., point-of-sale terminals, employee workstations and mobile devices) from threats. It includes features like antivirus protection, firewall capabilities and data encryption to safeguard data on endpoint devices.

Encryption Tools
Data encryption is a fundamental aspect of retail security. Retailers should use encryption tools to protect sensitive data, such as customer information and payment details, both in transit and at rest. Encryption ensures that even if a breach occurs, the stolen data remains unreadable to unauthorized parties.

Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) Systems
SIEM systems collect and analyze data from various sources to provide a comprehensive view of a network's security posture. These tools help retailers detect anomalies, manage security incidents and respond promptly to potential threats.
Access Control and Identity Management
Access control and identity management tools ensure that only authorized personnel have access to specific systems and data. This is vital in preventing insider threats and unauthorized access. Two-factor authentication (2FA) and single sign-on (SSO) solutions enhance access control.
Network Segmentation Software
Network segmentation divides a network into distinct segments, each with its own security policies. This approach limits the lateral movement of attackers, containing potential breaches and safeguarding critical systems.  Be sure and segment any third-party vendor’s network from your own and only allow access to the resources they need.

Vulnerability Scanners
Regular vulnerability assessments are essential for identifying and addressing weaknesses in the retail network. Vulnerability scanners help retailers find and fix vulnerabilities in their systems and applications before cybercriminals can exploit them.  Be sure and scan any LoT devices you have on the network.

Mobile Device Management (MDM) Solutions
Given the prevalence of mobile devices in retail operations, MDM solutions are crucial for securing these endpoints. MDM allows retailers to enforce security policies, remotely wipe lost or stolen devices and manage app installations.

Wireless Security
Today in the retail industry, the use of wireless devices is ever more present.  Wireless inventory-scanning tools are a great time-saving convenience, but wireless is using radio waves to send data, so like with any radio signal, someone in the area and pick up those signals so use strong encryption on all connections to the access point.  Also restrict access to the access points from the known devices you have.  This can be done by whitelisting the MAC addresses of the company devices and only allowing access to the access point from these devices.

Security Awareness Training Platforms
Human error remains a significant vulnerability in the retail industry. Security awareness training platforms provide retailers with a means to educate employees about cybersecurity best practices, phishing awareness and how to recognize and respond to security threats.  Security, like a chain, is only as strong as its weakest link, and the user is the weakest link in network security.

Incident Response and Forensic Tools
In the event of a security breach, incident response and forensic tools help retailers investigate the incident, determine its scope and take appropriate actions to mitigate the damage and prevent future attacks.  In the event of a serious security breach, it is best to reach out to a security firm that works with these issues daily.  It takes experts to fully remove an attacker from the network.

In the evolving landscape of the retail industry, staying ahead of cyber threats is imperative. The adoption of these essential cybersecurity tools and software solutions can significantly enhance a retailer's security posture, protect sensitive customer data and safeguard the integrity of its operations. By investing in and implementing these technologies, retailers can build a robust defense against the ever-present cybersecurity challenges in the digital age.

If you would like more information on protecting your business from cybercriminals, contact a member of the Schneider Downs Cybersecurity Services team at [email protected].

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About Schneider Downs Cybersecurity

The Schneider Downs cybersecurity practice consists of experts offering a comprehensive set of information technology security services, including penetration testing, intrusion prevention/detection review, ransomware security, vulnerability assessments and a robust digital forensics and incident response team. In addition, our Digital Forensics and Incident Response teams are available 24x7x365 at 1-800-993-8937 if you suspect or are experiencing a network incident of any kind. 

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