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NRF launches digital risk, innovation center

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Dive Brief:

  • The National Retail Federation on July 31 launched a Center for Digital Risk & Innovation. The organization will release reports and work on projects in a few initial areas of focus, including cybersecurity, digital fraud prevention, and artificial intelligence and machine learning.
  • The center will “develop best practices and guidance for retailers on key technology issues and amplify the voice of the retail industry in technology policy debates,” according to the website.
  • Initiatives from existing NRF groups like its CIO Council, IT Security Council, Fraud Prevention Professionals Working Group and the AI Working Group will also be adopted by the center.

Dive Insight:

As technology issues in the industry affect policy and risk management, the center will be the among those that will address these issues and their impact. Citing Verizon data from 2017, NRF said 4.8% of reported data breach incidents are in the retail industry. 

“This marks an important step to further amplify the voice of the retail industry in policy debates on key technology issues,” NRF Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel Stephanie Martz said in a statement. “The recommendations and best practices developed through the NRF Center for Digital Risk & Innovation will serve retailers of all sizes as they navigate investing in technology as a competitive advantage.”

Christian Becker, NRF vice president of retail technology and cybersecurity, will lead the center as executive director. An external advisory board will also govern the center consisting of senior-level retail technology executives, industry partners, academics and other experts.

The group said the center will develop guidelines for technology issues with the help of retailers, industry partners and other stakeholders. It also will focus on influencing decision making and risk management by retail business leaders.

Cyberattacks in retail are an issue NRF has addressed in history, and continue to be problematic for retailers. In January, NRF announced a partnership with the Retail & Hospitality Information Sharing and Analysis Center to increase industry efforts against cyberattacks and better protect customer data. The two agreed to coordinate their efforts and release research related to cybersecurity.

Cyberattacks have recently been affecting big-name retailers like Tempur Sealy and Hot Topic. On Wednesday, Tempur Sealy responded to an attack two months after it acquired Mattress Firm, according to Cybersecurity Dive. The company had to shut down some of its IT systems, disrupting operations. In only the first half of this year, Hot Topic was hit by five waves of security breach attacks. From Feb. 7 to June 21, the company was hit by a series of breaches where a threat actor obtained Hot Topic Rewards account credentials from an unknown third party.

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