Cyber defense the no.1 consideration for O2O retailers

April 30, 2021 10:59
Photo: Reuters

The pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated the digital transformation of businesses while at the same time opened doors for cyberattacks, which can cause a great business loss. According to the research by Cybersecurity Ventures, cybersecurity threats are expected to cost the world around US$6 trillion a year by 2021, doubling from 2015. Asia has shown greater vulnerability to cyberattacks and Hong Kong as the regional hub has seen no exception. However, Hong Kong enterprises have lowered their guard on cyber defense readiness marginally to prioritize resources in combatting business downturn under the pandemic, revealed by The Hong Kong Productivity Council.

The drop in cyber defense readiness is alarming especially for the retail industries, since they have been hit hardest as cybercriminals shifted their focus to targeting online storefronts, as revealed by the latest Global Security Report from Trustwave, which found that 24% of all data breach incidents were reported by retailers. One of the factors leading to this challenge is the rise of O2O (online-to-offline) business model. In response to customers going online amid the lockdown, more retailers expand beyond bricks-and-mortar stores to online shops in order to sustain their businesses. The surge of online transactions which involves a fleet of internet-connected devices ranging from customers’ mobile phones to retailer’s point-of-sales (POS) system has leaved loopholes for hackers to act maliciously.

In our Cyberdefense Security Navigator 2021 Report which revealed the unique security challenges in each vertical sector, we found that malware comprised 23% of incidents in retail industry. This incident category has historically been a problem for both physical stores and online operations while it became a more apparent threat under the O2O era. Physical outlets' POS terminals have been compromised in the past, and recently, groups such as Magecart have been found compromising e-commerce websites to insert malicious code that steals customer credit card details.

Cyber threats are real and can happen anytime, hence, every retailer must gear up to safeguard themselves. However, what steps can be taken when they are struggling in revamping their systems all the way from unifying all sales channels to cyber protection?

O2O retailers are suggested to implement multiple solutions to cope with the security challenges including zero trust network access (ZTNA) , secure access services edge (SASE) and managed security operation center (SOC) solution.

Furthermore, in a world where data privacy is key, having a tailored and all-rounded cybersecurity solution is highly important. A trustworthy and professional provider will not only eye on retailers’ sales and operations in a short span, but more importantly, help retailers apply more granular levels of control for business applications along with cybersecurity, end-to-end connectivity, and cloud application service delivery chain to strive for a long-term success. This way, retailers can focus their resources on enhancing business values without needing to worry about malicious cyberattacks, delivering a truly secured omnichannel e-commerce experience that meets customer expectations.

Economic downturn may have hindered the industry from adopting cybersecurity solutions. However, as security breaches happen more frequently, and some retailers being new to e-commerce technologies, it is crucial for businesses to protect customers and their assets in the virtual world.

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General Manager of Orange Business Services in Hong Kong and Taiwan