Trouble in store? Don’t forget VPN

For a couple of years now security breaches in the retail sector have seldom been out of the headlines. Breaches at large retail chains like Target, Neiman Marcus and The Home Depot in 2014 were followed in 2015 by Dungarees, Starbucks, CVS, Toys R Us and Wallmart Canada. Some of the latter stores were much smaller illustrating that when it comes to attacks a retailer’s size is not important. According to the annual Global Threat Intelligence Report, retail now makes up 22 per cent of all response engagements, up from 12 per cent the previous year. This is also reflected in the latest report from BDO which lists a possible security breach in joint top spot with “general economic conditions” as the biggest security risk to the retail sector.

Big data, big security questions

Half of enterprises today store sensitive information within big data environments (up from 31 percent in 2015). Influential agencies like ENISA warn there are considerable cyber risks from using big data tools. There is concern, for example, that such developments are a possible point of compromise and there are calls for increased vigilance and compliance.

Mobile payments and security — money walks, money talks

Once upon a time a mobile phone was something we used for talking. Today making a call ranks sixth on the list of most common uses for a mobile phone. Now there’s a new kid on the block that, in time, will push making a call even lower down the list. Mobile payment, or m-payment, is taking off. Early adopters like Starbucks already attribute significant revenue gains to their investment in mobile. Although overall mobile payments adoption and usage rates are still a fraction of standard credit/debit card transactions industry watchers expect this to change very quickly.

Web of Spies

Ever since Edward Snowden revealed the extent of state-sponsored espionage over the Internet in 2013 businesses have been acutely aware of just how vulnerable data communications are to being intercepted. It is no coincidence that in the same period cybercriminals have also stepped up their attempts to spy on organisations. For example, the use of Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) malware and ransomware to try to capture valuable financial or customer data for financial gain has risen dramatically. While no defense method is ever 100% impregnable the risk of snooping and theft of sensitive data can be significantly reduced by encrypting it using VPNs.