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Why Securing Your Online Retail Presence Starts with Applications

There is little doubt that the proliferation of mobile, cloud-based e-commerce tools and online shopping has brought about a revolution for retailers. Those companies that have embraced these technologies have thrived, while retailers that have been slower to the trend have struggled. For example, an estimated £6.6 billion is annually lost by U.K. retailers that haven't invested in mobile.

Merchants today have more options available than ever for patrons to browse and purchase goods. But if you are benefiting from the ease of modern shopping, so too are customers. Armed with mobile and online technologies, customers can easily switch brands. Winning and maintaining consumer loyalty, therefore, has never been more difficult.

At Trustwave, we have seen time and again how closely brand loyalty is tied to security. Often, following a major security breach, brands will experience customer churn and a corresponding loss of revenue. As our 2016 Security Pressures Report showed, reputation damage was cited as the post-security breach repercussion that security experts fear the most, even more so than financial damage.

For businesses, data is your lifeblood, and commerce cannot function without it. But it is also the very information that hackers target - and the loss of it can lead to consumer attrition.

When we consider that since 2000 three-quarters of retail sales growth has occurred through online channels, it is clear that securing e-commerce is vital for future success. So what can you do to protect your business and your customer data in this complex, multi-channel environment?

The key is to test all retail applications, regardless of where they are hosted - something that does not always happen. More than 70 percent of security professionals are performing vulnerability tests on fewer than 10 percent of their cloud, mobile and web applications.

Hackers target any application that has security weaknesses. Although testing high-value and mission-critical applications is better than not testing at all, the problem is that hackers will instead exploit one of the less-visible apps, and once they are have planted themselves inside the network, they'll figure out a way to get to other applications as well.

Our advice to retailers is to take a risk management approach and prioritize these vulnerabilities based on a quantitative score. Then test any and all applications that might be targeted. Of course, you don't need to do this alone: Managed security services providers can help secure cloud, mobile and web applications quickly and affordably, from basic testing to deep penetration testing.

We're operating in a business environment that is more competitive than ever. If you wish to succeed in this new world, they must view application security as a strategic value-add to your business rather than a necessary evil. The result will be a brand that customers can trust their data with and to whom they are more likely to return.

For more information on why you need to test all of your apps, check out this white paper.

Jane Dotsenko is a Trustwave marketing manager for the EMEA region.