Thales eSecurity Blog

Retail in 2019 needs security precautions

Charles Goldberg
Charles Goldberg | Senior Director, Marketing More About This Author >

As the retail industry follows suit with today’s digital transformation, customer expectations are at an all-time high. Retailers are looking to address these demands with interconnected experiences to give customers more personalized and immediate experiences both in-stores and online. But do these connected experiences actually live up to the hype? They might at first glance, but retailers are now exposing themselves to a whole host of security risks as these connected shopping technologies evolve. As we head into 2019, one thing is clear: more convenience is directly proportional to industry-wide risk.

Retail in 2019 needs security precautions

An example of these interconnected risks is the trend of cashierless environments which already started taking hold this past holiday season. No doubt, the convenience is there – consumers don’t need to wait in line or interact with cashiers, and their payments are automatically processed. Seems great, right? Wrong. While a cashierless store might feel like an ideal option for customers who are looking for more convenient shopping experience, the security risks are endless. And when you add on top of that the complementary in-store WiFi that stores are offering, the potential for risk increases exponentially. Connected customers become walking databases of personal information with the potential of having their every move tracked by hackers.

Our recent Data Threat Report, Retail Edition showed that 52 percent of U.S. retailers have suffered a data breach in the past year – and what’s more, 75 percent have had one at some point in the past. The numbers don’t lie. Security is a necessity for retailers, especially in 2019 as emerging technologies are breaking into the market and cyberattacks are getting more advanced.

It’s never too early to plan for the next big retail season and one question retailers need to ask themselves in 2019: is a top-notch customer experience worth the cost of a data breach?

As we know, the answer is tough. Retail is competitive and the customer experience is an important differentiator. However, there is no question that a data breach results in a poor customer experience and a tarnished brand. For that reason, balanced and pragmatic security will take center stage for retail in the next year as companies begin to realize that a seamless customer experience must include security. This is necessary for companies to protect their brand and customers, and to protect their businesses from the costs associated with breaches in a post-GDPR world. In order to succeed here, retailers should approach security more proactively, rather than reactively, to ensure that customers have a positive experience and aren’t negatively impacted by threats like credit card fraud or data theft. Retailers will also see the payoffs once they bake security into their IT strategy, as they work to avoid the financial and reputational costs of recovering from a data breach.

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