Cybersecurity for business and life: A guide from a former White House CIO

Sarah Rand
Retail Gets Real
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Former White House Chief Information Officer Theresa Payton thinks individuals and businesses should be proactive about protecting themselves online — because if they don’t, they are increasingly at risk. “As we get better at figuring out how to create safety nets around [people and data] at the workplace,” she says, “the bad guys say ‘I just have to up my game and work harder to get in.’”

Payton, the founder of Fortalice Solutions and cybersecurity expert on the CBS show “Hunted,” sat down with the Retail Gets Real team at NRF’s PROTECT loss prevention conference in Dallas to discuss how old-school investigative techniques can be combined with new technology to protect businesses without sacrificing convenience for consumers.

The Unites States still uses some outdated systems to identify and authenticate people, Payton says, like email addresses, cell phone and Social Security numbers. Yet promising technology on the horizon could help with authentication using behavioral-based information like the type of device used or how an individual might always swipe left or right.

“A small investment in [security] can really go a long way.”

Theresa Payton

Small businesses that might not have dedicated resources should still be engaged, Payton says, because “a small investment in [security] can really go a long way.” She suggests using services like password vaults, free resources from agencies like the FTC and FBI and engaging cloud services that are configured properly.

Basic best practices also help in day-to-day business operations. For example, “voice assistants are trained to respond to you when you engage them,” Payton says, “which means they’re always trained to be on.” So when confidential conversations are taking place, making sure all Internet of Things devices like smartphones and voice assistants are unplugged is a simple way to ensure safety.

Listen to the episode for Payton’s tips on how individuals can protect themselves. Watch the video below for a clip of Payton’s session from NRF PROTECT and visit the official recap for more coverage relating to loss prevention.

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Sarah Rand is a co-host on NRF’s Retail Gets Real podcast. Meet all the co-hosts and learn more about the show.