Retail security and the importance of trust and ethical practices

Sep 29, 2021

The retail industry can only benefit from the easing of Covid-related restrictions and the re-opening of businesses across the UK and Europe. Retailers, eager to make up for lost time as a result of the pandemic, will be hastily making preparations to drive footfall, particularly with Christmas not so far away. Sitting behind the physical shop fronts sit the systems and processes that make today’s multi-faceted and omnichannel retail strategies possible. They comprise technologies and cloud-enabled infrastructures that can support customer demand and a modern frictionless shopping experience.

Yet, as retailers direct their attention to post-pandemic rehabilitation, it is these systems and the many layers of complex customer data that they contain that are increasingly the target of criminal gangs, eager to seek profits through ransomware attacks or selling the proceeds on the dark web[1]. Making the right choices about partners and technology will therefore be key in guarding against such attacks and protecting retail businesses during the busy period ahead, and beyond.

Evaluating security technologies

Modern physical security solutions, video surveillance as-a-service (VSaaS) and access control as-a-service (ACaaS), are the natural successors to the analogue systems of the past. These cloud-enabled solutions can unlock powerful insights from the data they collect, helping to improve high street security and streamline operations.

But, connecting technologies such as surveillance cameras to an IT network is not without risk, so it’s imperative to consider the cybersecurity of the devices themselves. Unsecured systems which are not manufactured in accordance with cybersecurity principles can be easily compromised and used as a backdoor to gain access to a retailer’s systems; for example, using a vulnerability in a camera or sensor to access a customer database.

In tandem with cybersecurity evaluation, a retailer should also take steps to verify the credentials of any security provider they choose to do business with. Retailers who have not done so cannot be wholly confident that their valuable surveillance data is secure. This places their business at risk, where data breaches, cyber attacks and even terrorist activity can have a devastating impact. The average cost of a data breach to the retail industry is just under $2 million (£1.55 million)[2]. When downtime is factored in, plus the damage to brand and reputation, it can have a devastating impact.

Forging trusted partnerships based on ethical principles

It’s clear that retailers should be looking carefully at who they choose to associate their brand and do business with. Partnering with a trustworthy provider that has a track record of success as well as adhering to ethical practices and codes of conduct that are common across the EU will provide assurances of corporate governance and closer scrutiny of manufacturing processes.

In a world where products can often be hastily produced with low levels of quality assurance and with poor transparency of labour laws, it is all too easy to seek out and use devices that have been manufactured cheaply and brought to market quickly. But short-term gain often portends a longer-term cost. While speed of deployment to ensure comprehensive protection can be a key factor in partner selection, this should be balanced with a thorough process of due diligence to determine the integrity of vendor, technology, and increasingly the supply chain.

As retail businesses consider the evolving threat landscape and the broad range of challenges that the future will bring, cloud-enabled physical security is earning its place in the retailer’s armoury. Retailers should ensure that they ask the right questions of their providers to guarantee that ethics and integrity, together with trustworthy manufacturing practices, are employed when developing the security solutions they will come to rely on. Working with a trusted partner will enable retail managers and their security teams to get the most out of VSaaS and ACaaS, and respond confidently to the threats and challenges they face both today and in the future.

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