The data is still coming in, but it’s looking like consumer spending this holiday season will once again outperform previous years. Multiple research firms including the National Retail Federation (NRF) are predicting a growth in sales over the same period in 2015. Credit card vendor Mastercard is forecasting a 19% increase in online sales over the holidays. Increasingly, much of that shopping has transitioned from traditional brick-and-mortar stores to online. E-commerce continues to grow each year. For example, Deloitte is projecting a 17-19 percent increase in online sales between the beginning of November and January 2017.
Not all the news is good however. Major retailers Macy’s, Sears and Kmart announced recently that each will be closing a number of stores across the country due to lagging sales. Some of this may be attributable to the shift in how consumers make their purchases. With the rise in online shopping, whether through a PC or mobile device, fewer buyers are braving the crowds and winter weather to drive to a physical store, especially over the holidays. Instead, they turn to the web to search for the best deal they can find online. Therefore, having a robust digital storefront for secure e-commerce is an essential piece of any successful retail plan.
Another key component of the retail plan is securing the network from threats such as breaches and ransomware. Over the past few years numerous high-profile retailers have been in the news as hackers have gained access to supposedly secure customer data including credit card numbers. If you’ve never been the victim of identity theft, count yourself lucky. Over the holiday season the number of attacks typically goes up as hackers know consumers will spending more time online researching gifts and making purchases. Or, they will make that purchase in person at the store. Either way, this represents a good opportunity for hackers to target retail networks. And, while it’s the big vendors that make the headlines, smaller retailers aren’t immune from these attacks. In some ways they are more vulnerable as many don’t have an IT manager who is responsible for network security.
The onus to protect against the loss of confidential information falls on both consumers and retailers. For each there are steps that can be taken to safeguard against threats.
- Pay in cash at the store
- Use a chip-enabled credit card whenever possible
- Change account passwords frequently
- Implement chip card readers in your store(s)
- Deploy a next-generation firewall that uses advanced security technologies including sandboxing and SSL decryption and inspection
- Make it a policy to change employee and account passwords regularly (And don’t use “password1”)
Want more information on securing your retail network? Coming on the heels of the holiday shopping season is what’s been dubbed “NRF Retail’s BIG Show”. It’s the National Retail Federation Convention and EXPO in New York City, January 15-17. The event features a wide variety of industry-focused discussions from retailer leaders. Over at the EXPO you can talk directly with vendors who offer products and services for retailers. Don’t miss SonicWall’s booth #2535 on the EXPO floor where you can talk to our network security experts about our next-generation firewalls and SonicWall Capture Advanced Threat Protection sandboxing service, a CRN Products of the Year award winner.
In addition, SonicWall Systems Engineer Sr. Manager Bobby Cornwell and Sr. Product Marketing Manager Kent Shuart will present “Compromise vs. Protection: A ‘Cybercriminal’ and Network Security Technologist Face-off.”
Where: Room 2, Level 1 of the EXPO Hall
When: On Monday, January 16 at 1:30 pm. Join this discussion for a demonstration showing how the next generation of malware can be used against your retail organization and what you can do to protect your network and your data.