ECOMMERCE

Study: Majority of retailers feel ‘vulnerable’ to a data breach

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

While the number of cyber-attacks have declined in the last year, a majority of companies still feel susceptible to data threats.

This was according to the “2017 Thales Data Threat Report, Retail Edition,” from Thales e-Security and analyst firm 451 Research. The study is based on responses from more than 1100 senior security executives, including in the retail segment, from across the globe.

According to data, 52% of companies experienced a data breach in the past, and 88% fear they are vulnerable to a cyber-attack. Meanwhile, 19% stated they are “very” or “extremely” vulnerable.

On a positive note, U.S. retail data breaches in the past year dropped from 22% in the 2016 survey to 19% this year. This number is lower than any other U.S. vertical polled for the 2017 report, including healthcare (20%), financial services (24%) and the U.S. federal government (34%).

However, U.S. retailers may be failing to learn from past mistakes. More than half (11%) of the 19% that were breached this year had also experienced a breach previously. When looking at global retail, a staggering 43% of global retail respondents reported a breach in the past year alone, approaching twice the global average, the study reported.

“These distressing breach rates serve as stark proof that data on any system can be attacked and compromised,” said Garrett Bekker, principal analyst for information security at 451 Research. “Unfortunately, organizations keep spending on the same security solutions that worked for them in the past, but aren’t necessarily the most effective at stopping modern breaches.”

Seventy seven percent (77%) of U.S. retail organizations are increasing IT security spending, but are not concentrating spending where it will make the most difference. For example, 88% of respondents selected network security as “very” or “extremely” effective at protecting data from breaches — even as network security fails to keep out attackers and is unable to protect data that is increasingly stored in the cloud.

Spending patterns also indicate a focus on what has worked in the past with the planned spending increases on network (67%) and endpoint (63%) protection. Data-at-rest approaches, which have proven to be effective at protecting the data itself, came in second from last (49%) in terms of retailer security spending priorities.

According to the report, 95% of U.S. retail organizations will use sensitive data in an advanced technology environment (such as cloud, big data, IoT and containers) this year. However, 53% of respondents believe that sensitive data use is happening in these environments without proper security in place.

“It’s encouraging that yearly retail data breach rates have finally started to drop, but rates are still quite high,” said Peter Galvin, VP of strategy, Thales e-Security. “With tremendous sets of detailed customer behavior and personal information in their custody, retailers are a prime target for hackers so should look to invest more in data-centric protection. And as retailers dive head first into new technologies, data security must be a top priority as they continue to pursue their digital transformation.”

To make this transition, organizations are encouraged to:

• deploy security tool sets that offer services-based deployments, platforms and automation;

• discover and classify the location of sensitive data within cloud, SaaS, big data, IoT and container environments; and

• leverage encryption and Bring Your Own Key (BYOK) technologies for all advanced technologies.

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DESIGN/CONSTRUCTION

One of the world’s fastest-growing character brands opens Times Square flagship

BY Marianne Wilson

An Asian brand whose characters were originally created for use as emoticons on a mobile messenger app has opened its first store in North America.

Line Friends, whose characters include whimsical-looking bears, ducks, bunnies and more, has opened a 4,628-sq.-ft. flagship in Manhattan's Times Square as part of the company's global expansion efforts. It currently operates 84 locations in 11 countries around the globe.

Line Friends is owned by Japanese social media giant Line Corp., whose global messenger app provides free messaging, along with video and phone calls. It is used in more than 230 countries and offers free one-to-one and group messaging, along with voice and video calls. The app counts 200 million active worldwide users. Line Friends features 11 characters that were originally created for use as stickers (or emoticons) on the app. It creates a wide variety of products, including dolls and stuffed animals, based on the signature characters.

Line Friends' Times Square outpost was conceived as a character merchandise store and entertainment space. Themed rooms bring out the unique personalities of the brand's main characters, and "Mega Brown," an enormous version of Line's signature bear, sits in the middle of the space. The store offers more than 440 character-branded items for sale, including items exclusive to the New York store, as well as a series of Scandinavian-style collaborations.

"The opening of our New York flagship store commemorates the one-year anniversary of our parent company's [Line Corp.] listing on the New York Stock Exchange, and paves the way for the official start of the next phase of Line Friends' global expansion," stated Line Friends. "We see particular significance in the fact that characters which got their start in digital media, not cinema or TV, are making such a bold entrance into New York City, the world's leader in cultural trends."

In celebration of the store's opening, a large-scale outdoor promotion using Times Square's LED screens filled the surrounding area with the full range of Line characters. In addition to the outdoor advertisements, digital signage on the store's exterior features branded content along with the company's newest products.

Line Friends, which ran a pop-up store in New York City in December 2014.

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DESIGN/CONSTRUCTION

Home furnishings chain adds new hotel location

BY Marianne Wilson

West Elm is expanding its hotel portfolio — even before it opens its first location.

The retailer, a division of Williams-Sonoma, announced Portland, Maine as the newest location for its West Elm Hotels collection. Expected to open in 2020, the 150 room, full-service boutique hotel will be developed on Portland’s waterfront by Portland Foreside Development Company LLC, and operated by hotel development and management company DDK, which is West Elm Hotels’ exclusive operator.

"Portland has experienced a renaissance within the past decade, creating a distinct and modern vibe, while honoring its maritime history,” said Peter Fowler, VP of West Elm Hospitality. “Our collaboration with Portland Foreside Development Company brings forth local knowledge and expertise that will deliver an original experience for guests, as well as the surrounding seaside community."

• West Elm said it will utilize its retail and marketing expertise to design a "unique hospitality experience that pays homage to the coastal city’s rich history and burgeoning waterfront community." The property will be located in Portland Foreside, a new neighborhood development in the area formerly known as the Portland Company Complex.

• The development is positioned to become the city’s premier destination for locals and tourists to appreciate Portland’s history, engage in the harbor’s many activities, celebrate special events, and enjoy retail, dining and entertainment offerings. Retail spaces will be curated in the historic core of the development and next to the hotel

West Elm is scheduled to unveil its hotel concept in Detroit, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Oakland and Savannah, beginning in early 2019. Each West Elm Hotel, including the Portland location, will feature local design elements that celebrate the community and reflect traditional décor, handicraft, cuisine and culture from the region.

West Elm operates 101 retail stores in the United States, Australia, Canada and the U.K., ships internationally to customers around the world and operates stores in Mexico, the Middle East, Philippines and South Korea through unaffiliated franchisees.

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