The slew of recent big name security breaches has caused many retailers to pull back when it comes to their Internet connectivity. Giant retailers like Walmart that once had multiple points of access in each of their storefronts have yanked the plug, going so far as to kick third parties right off their networks.
According to Ken Hosac, vice president of business development at Cradlepoint, that type of response was to be expected in light of the mainstream security breaches that have come to light. Hosac spoke to TMCnet Executive Editor Paula Bernier at the recent ITEXPO Miami 2015 event about how Cradlepoint has expanded their business in recent years, especially out of a need driven by security issues.
“With the Target credit card breach, they came into the Target system by compromising an HVAC vendor’s laptop, got their login credentials, were able to get into Target’s core network and do a pivot attack to find the point of sale devices,” said Hosac. Retailers have responded by tightening access to their networks and also requiring different networks for different areas within a storefront. For instance, a company like Walmart may have as many as 20 to 30 access points throughout a single store, including POS kiosks, and food and other service storefronts within their space. These types of companies are now calling for physically isolated networks to minimize opportunities for security breaches.
Cradlepoint refers to these setups as parallel networking and the company now specializes in this type of service. Cradlepoint got its start providing failover connections to distributed enterprises, including retail stores, branch offices, kiosks and companies with digital signage. They would provide 4G networks as a backup if WiFi failed, for instance. But in the new age of parallel networking, companies are beginning to use companies like Cradlepoint for primary connectivity since the cloud offers all types of flexibility and functionality at a low price point.
“If you think about your smartphone, Siri for instance, with voice recognition,” suggested Hosac. “If you were to put the processing power on the phone to do voice recognition, it would be a $6,000 device.” Instead, Siri works by sending information to the cloud, processing it there and then pushing it back to the device. Hosac likens this process to what Cradlepoint can do for retail stores, putting networking functionality in the cloud.
“We do cloud-assisted security, where we are able to securely take traffic up into the cloud, through private networking, and then use the cloud to do things like intrusion prevention and protection, web content filtering, etc.,” said Hosac. This type of hybrid network approach is particularly attractive for the distributed enterprise, where customers want to have security assurances but can’t afford to have multiple networking setups reside on premises at thousands of branch locations.
Cradlepoint’s main offering is the Enterprise Cloud Manager, which enables monitoring and managing of all endpoints in a distributed system from a single location, even if they are running on different networks. The company’s cloud-based solutions utilize 3G, 4G and LTE networking for failover as well as primary connectivity.