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For Retail and Hospitality, Fortified Cyber Security Measures Are More Critical Than Ever Before

Although the digital evolution has been in motion for decades, the last two years of mobile acceleration have spurred innumerable new cybersecurity threats that continue to grow in both volume and sophistication. The retail and hospitality sector has been particularly vulnerable to cyber threats, with fast casual and quick service restaurant chains topping a long list of industries that remain notoriously vulnerable to modern cybercrime. 

Courtney Radke, a retail and hospitality field CISO for leading enterprise security company Fortinet, touched upon the sector’s increased cyber susceptibilities and more during a recent interview with RETHINK Retail. 

“There is no neatly defined ‘safe space’,” Radke revealed. “Threat actors are getting smarter, faster, and bolder in their efforts to capitalize on the treasure trove that is retail and hospitality.” 

And retail and hospitality companies of all different sizes and segments are vulnerable, too. 

Today, data resides across distributed networks and the billions of edges created by IoT and mobile end-user devices. Additionally, as retailers continue to create highly personalized experiences to meet customer demand, they substantially increase the quantity of data vulnerable to attacks. 

For many companies, maintaining strict security measures has never been so crucial. In 2021, there were 725 confirmed data breaches in retail alone and that number is only going to rise as threat actors grow.   

According to Radke, customer data found in restaurant web apps are a top target for cybercriminals and the continued attacks on POS and front and back of house systems can result in inimical damage to a company’s reputation. 

“In an area where inherent loyalty is less guaranteed, restaurants must ensure they are doing everything they can to create and retain fans of their brands,” Radke explained. “One bad experience, whether in a corporate location or a franchise, may have a far reaching downstream impact.”


Legacy defenses are no longer cutting it 

Traditionally, combating cybersecurity threats meant responding to threats using one solution at a time. In a modern network, this system puts significant pressure on security teams that require increased automation, tighter integration, and synchronized responses to emerging threats. 

Radke advised retail and hospitality providers to shift away from single deployment solutions that struggle to communicate with one another and instead consolidate point product vendors into a cybersecurity MESH platform—a “security fabric” that provides best-of-breed solutions built from the ground up.     

For the increasing number of retailers with complex networks, converging networking and security into a single, accelerated solution is the safest way to future-proof.


Discovering, collecting, and sharing information 

Retailers don’t always know when or how they’re being targeted. When it comes time to deploy network security solutions, retail leadership needs to be able to assess their risk levels, plan accordingly and act when needed. 

And the same goes for customers, too. Customers do not want to learn that their data has been breached days or weeks after the fact—they want time to act, change passwords and remove banking information from apps before somebody else does it for them. 

Fortunately, security companies like Fortinet are going above and beyond to set high communication standards and ensure retailers fully understand any potential threats they are facing. 

Founded in 2002, FortiGuard Labs is Fortinet’s cybersecurity threat intelligence and research organization. A pioneer and security industry innovator, FortiGuard Labs develops and utilizes leading-edge machine learning and AI technologies to provide customers with timely and consistent protection and actionable threat intelligence via their millions of sensors deployed globally.

To date, FortiGuard Labs has analyzed over 100 Billion global security events and provides 1B security updates daily—a number that’s not just helped the company stand out against other cybersecurity solutions, but escalated the safety of customers as well.


Securing the future

As digital transformation continues to push forward, retailers and restaurateurs must stay ahead of the curve and act quickly. 

Whether it’s web application attacks, POS, or direct cybersecurity threats made toward employees, it’s vital that the window of opportunity for attackers is narrowed and security gaps are closed. 

Thanks to the latest cybersecurity solutions, meeting these challenges is more achievable than ever before. With the right investments in security and training for employees and customers alike, retailers have an opportunity to run their business and deploy new digital transformation technologies with confidence.

“Businesses must prioritize technology investments that place importance on security and protecting the customer experience,” Radke said. 

To learn about what Fortinet is doing to provide retailers with the most sophisticated cybersecurity solutions, you can find more information here.