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COVID-19 hit the retail industry hard. Due to social distancing requirements, many businesses had to quickly take on online and BOPIS (buy online pickup in store) sales strategies. And once consumers started returning to stores, they were more digitally savvy than ever. As a result, retailers needed to embrace an omnichannel sales strategy to compete for their business.

One of the easiest ways for retailers to take on an omnichannel approach is by having sales associates use mobile phones to research product information and availability online. But retailers who allow a BYOD (bring your own device) policy and allow staff to access their network often create opportunities for cyberattacks or even internal threats from employees.

A better approach is to equip associates with enterprise-grade smartphones running specially vetted and managed retail applications. These devices help retail associates take customer service even farther by allowing them to manage inventory, locate products and fulfill orders right in the aisle. But here again, retailers need to be careful to choose devices that are specially designed and managed if they want to avoid costly cybersecurity risks.

Here are some unsettling statistics about cyberattacks in retail.

  • 44% of retailers were attacked in 2020 (Sophos)
  • 31% of retailers experienced a mobile data breach from 2017-2018 (Verizon)
  • More than half of the mobile data breaches were considered “significant”
  • More than a quarter had lasting repercussions

According to Sophos, the retail sector was hit hardest by ransomware attacks in 2020. Cybercriminals are targeting retailers for two things: credit card information and customer data, both of which can fetch a high price on the black market or in the form of a ransom demanded directly from the company. In 2021, 32% of companies whose data was encrypted paid a ransom to get their data back. The average ransom payment was $147,811.

Ransoms are only a small portion of the costs of inadequate security measures. Sophos found the average cost of rectifying a ransomware attack, including downtime, device cost, network cost, lost opportunity, ransoms and more, was $1.97 million.

Most retailers operating in the digital world understand that the issue of a cyberattack isn’t a question of if, but when. Fortunately, there are steps they can take to mitigate cyber threats. One of the most important is securing your mobile network by implementing an enterprise-grade mobile solution.

A recent case study from Deloitte examined a cyberattack on a large apparel company. In this scenario, attackers were able to exploit weak security on one of the retailer’s wireless networks, which allowed them to intercept card transactions and access the organization’s central database.

Retailers can avoid such wireless breaches by investing in the right enterprise-grade mobile solution.

Spectralink offers a range of products and services that make it easy for your IT team to monitor and control your wireless network, providing a first line of defense against cyberattacks. Our smartphones are built on top of Google’s robust Android platform. This is designed for retail-specific applications and to meet current PCI standards. We also leverage Qualcomm’s secure chipset platforms that are built to protect data, whether it’s at rest or in motion.

Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Mobile Application Management (MAM) solutions ensure your mobile network can be updated as needed with the most advanced security measures. These platforms also allow you to control and monitor the apps loaded on your devices and limit open internet access. Our management solutions give your IT department the ability to quickly identify and lock devices if they are lost, stolen or if an insider threat is detected.

Contact us to learn more about how our solutions can protect your retail organization from cyberattacks.

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