Retail has an information security problem. Hundreds of retailers have been hacked in the last decade and latest reports suggest that it could be just the top of the iceberg. More than 1,000 U.S. retailers could be infected with malicious software lurking in their cash register computers, allowing hackers to steal customer financial data, the Homeland Security Department said Friday. Information security is a big challenge for any company but even more so for retail. Credit card theft wary customers may stay away from stores and impact bottom line. Earlier this year Target blamed the data breach for 46% slide in earnings.

Information security is a complex and tricky topic and one of the technologies which improves data security tremendously is Managed File Transfer(MFT). Retailers store and move quite a bit of data between stores and central IT. Additionally they have to exchange lot of data with the suppliers and other partners. Managed File Transfer (MFT) is a class of file transfer systems that use state of art security technology to centralize data transfers in a single system. This protects unauthorized access of data and limits exposure as file transfers happen through one central system. Since this central system uses state of art security and encryption to protect data both at rest and in-transit, it protects against hackers.

Managed File Transfer is finding its use in several sectors in Banking/Finance and Healthcare sectors. As more and more records become digital e.g. EHR (electronic health records), there is an increasing need to encrypt this data and protect it when it is exchanged. Retailers need to review their security infrastructure to improve security on both ends - the Point of Sale (POS) and enterprise IT side. MFT can provide a secure backbone for enterprise data and work with secure POS systems to keep hackers at bay. Multi channel retail requires that data from each channel be secured and MFT can be the most important system in the middle that secures customer and financial data.

As customer go out and shop this labor day, hope retailers learn from the past breaches and take steps to protect shopper data.

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