What steps can SMRs (small to midsize retailers) take to safeguard against online crime?
An epidemic of robberies plagues the nation’s retailers, but these criminals are invisible. They’re electronic armed robbers. What’s a small to midsize retailer to do?
The problem is real. A recent Ponemon Institute study found that data breaches are the fourth-largest security loss retailers suffer. The Merchant Risk Council, which seeks to prevent online fraud, found in a February 2006 survey that online fraud rates for merchants now match the fraud rates found in brick-and-mortar stores.
SMRs are exposed to the highest degree of risk, because they balance limited IT resources between competing business and security needs. Also, digital crime is likely to escalate as more retailers employ e-commerce. Today, the FBI reports that e-commerce accounts for 2.4% of all retail sales, up from 1% in 2000.
Get The Proper IT Infrastructure
As more retailers establish virtual storefronts, it’s critical to ensure quick, easy, and secure IT environments. Luckily, retailers face many available resources to help keep data and transactions safe and secure. So many options exist, for example, that SC magazine [Editor’s Note: SC magazine is the online counterpart of Secure Computing monthly magazine] maintains a database of vendors that can help retailers with security in the white papers section at www.scmagazine.com.
IBM recently launched IBM Express Advantage Concierge (www.ibm.com/ibmaccess), a phone-based resource exclusively for SMRs and other businesses, which provides guidance on a wide range of business issues, including security. Additional security information is available for retailers at the Computer Security Resource Center, a federal agency, at http://csrc.nist.gov/securebiz.
Be Safe And Secure
Digital attacks of spam, spyware, viruses, and worms can destroy, alter, or steal important data from your systems. These also can reduce employee productivity and network capacity, costing a retailer time and money.
Retailers’ online security networks may include firewalls and antivirus software, but they don’t always use the resources to handle the latest threats. Still, SMRs can take several basic steps to secure themselves, regardless of the level of IT infrastructure.
n Protect hardware with up-to-date software, virus protection, and firewalls.
n Protect data with regular backups and store critical information at another physical location.
n Be wary of Internet traffic, and employ usage rules for employees.
n Secure your network for remote access with strong password protection, and be cautious about using wireless networks.
n Ensure critical business applications are secure both digitally and physically.
Many retailers require higher levels of security than their internal IT resources can support. In that case, outsourcing is an option that offers a continuous level of protection. Outsourcing also prevents periods when security threats drain retailers’ resources just to fight or recover from an attack.
A recent Yankee Group study found that outsourcing can save corporations up to 20% when compared with internal IT support. For example, an outsourced e-mail security solution may cost as little as $2 per user per month, saving thousands of dollars when compared to the cost of buying, servicing, and keeping the same solution current.
Warding off invisible robbers and choosing the right IT security weapons are substantial concerns. That’s why an outsourcing partner can focus on keeping your retail business safe and secure for a fraction of the price, and it eliminates the need for an internal staff’s focus on security. That, of course, lets you concentrate on business matters that allow your company to grow.