Some retailers have made the headlines in recent years, but for all the wrong reasons. They’ve all been victims of data breaches or cybersecurity attacks that compromised customers’ payments data and card information.

This is the kind of news story no retailer ever wants to see their name in. Apart from the bad press, retailers that fall victim to hacks and data breaches face a multitude of resulting problems that can all cost big. Loss of customer trust may lead shoppers to take their business elsewhere, dragging down revenues. Meanwhile, fines from regulators and the costs of repairing security vulnerabilities in a network can stack up.

One might look at headlines like these and think: If those companies can’t protect their customers’ payments data, how can anyone?

Good news: It is possible, and retailers now have access to a technology other businesses have long relied on for cybersecurity: software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN). New solutions combine a best-in-class SD-WAN with a PCI DSS-compliant managed network — giving retailers the best of both worlds.

Holding Down the Fort

SD-WAN allows a merchant to centrally manage a network in a complex retail environment that can consist of many devices and access points (including, for many retailers, the cloud). It can integrate best-in-class security protocols like next-generation stateful firewalls (including IPSEC VPN tunnels), anti-virus features, URL filtering and SSL packet inspection, which can increase data security across retail environments.

An SD-WAN with a PCI DSS-certified payment capability securely connects payments terminals and systems to the network, and a managed provider adds the persistent monitoring that allows full visibility of a network environment, creating the situational awareness that can shut down threats before they become larger issues. This includes monitoring of the data and network traffic to and from point-of-sale (POS) terminals, mobile devices, online ecommerce portals, back-office computers — anything with connectivity that is using a retailer’s network.

More retailers are adding cloud-based apps and services to provide better customer experiences, and this type of solution comes in handy here as well. Any payments data coming from a customer’s digital payment method — including from a cloud-based mobile payment application — and going to the retailer’s cloud data storage solution is secured (and vice versa). With a secure SD-WAN solution, connections to and from the cloud are protected and remain compliant with PCI DSS.

Retailers’ in-store and digital environments are growing more complex, and cybersecurity threats will never go away. In an always-connected commerce business, retailers can implement a secure SD-WAN managed solution with security based PCI DSS compliance, and gain peace of mind their customers’ payments data is protected.

John Tait is Global Managing Director of TNS’ Payments Market business. He is responsible for identifying and driving growth across the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific regions, and is focused on meeting the unique requirements of TNS’ customers.