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Industry News - April 27th 2014



Taking Network Security to the Cloud

The expectations of today’s guests have made their way from the front desk to IT. A decade ago, we wouldn’t have imagined that network security would be a front-of-house issue – yet here we are. Today’s savvy travelers want more than connectivity. They expect ironclad security that protects their entire “online” experience in the hotel, from online booking and iPad-enabled check-in to the wireless connectivity in their rooms.
The challenge is that many hotels lack the IT resources to adequately stay on top of security. Budget cuts, fewer resources and a need for more IT support on and off-site has stretched the IT department thin. IT staff members spend much of their time traveling between properties to handle mid-level support issues and install upgrades. Only a small percentage of their time is actually dedicated to making sure IT stays ahead of the curve.
As a result, hospitality IT has become a slave to its many financial and resource constraints. Network security functions are limited to making sure security patches are up to date and services are running rather than proactively identifying security threats and preventing attacks. In today’s cyber threat environment, that makes the hospitality industry a desirable and lucrative target for attacks.
While this may be the grim reality of IT triage, that doesn’t make it acceptable. In the age of identity theft and cyber attacks, more has to be done – starting with vendors.
Marks of a well-secured network system
The biggest threat to network security at the hotel property level isn’t a lack of technology – it is the lack of resources to manage it.  A strong network security solution should combine cloud-based security configuration with plug and play installation of a firewall and IPS appliances. In effect, hotel IT staff should be able to deploy and manage the deployment of 100 firewalls just as easily as they can deploy and manage one. This sort of approach to network security deployment tackles the IT resource issue head on. A single network administrator at a headquarters office can prepare and publish device configurations to the installation cloud.
Ideally the firewall or IPS device should be shipped directly to the property where anyone (e.g. GM) can simply plug the device into the network. The device will automatically contact and authenticate to the installation cloud, retrieve its configuration, and then reboot into the hotel’s network ready to protect. Back at IT headquarters, the entire network (and all of its devices at multiple locations) can be monitored and managed. One company that has already rolled out a system with these features is Stonesoft which recently introduced its transformable security engine.
The impact of a mass security approach is significant to hotel network operations. It could eliminate the need for on-site IT resources to configure and deploy security appliances. It could also provide much-needed network visibility across an entire portfolio of properties. Lastly, it would be instrumental in expediting large-scale security deployments and updates.
This hands-off approach is not unfamiliar to IT by any means (e.g. SaaS, anyone?), but it seems security is one of the last to jump on the bandwagon. If it decides to follow suit, network security in hospitality stands to benefit greatly.

Cabela's to Expand and Enhance with SAP

Cabela's has chosen the SAP Point-of-Sale (SAP POS) application to support its retail expansion and enhance its legendary customer experience. The retailer will leverage out-of-the-box functionality to provide increased customer service as well as system and sales associate efficiency.
"It is at the point of sale that our customers receive the last impression of our retail stores," said Michael Copeland, EVP and COO for Cabela's. "A faster, more efficient system will result in increased sales associate productivity and provide improved service at this vital customer touch point."
SAP POS, a part of the SAP for Retail solution portfolio, provides secure and friendly customer experiences and adapts to changing business needs. The application allows retailers to customize the shopping experience and support better omni-channel operations with seamless store, Web and mobile integration. With SAP POS, associates can learn the functionality faster and the retailer can benefit from improved staff productivity and lower operating costs while achieving greater flexibility.
"During the deployment of SAP POS, emphasis will be placed on using out-of-the0box functionality and limiting customizations," said Dave Kardesh, VP and CIO for Cabela's. "Integration of cross-channel functionality will be incorporated along with other features that our customers are looking for."

Sears Launches Cloud-Based Big Data Analytics Subsidiary

With the launch of its MetaScale subsidiary, Sears Holdings joins the small group of retailers that also "moonlight" as technology developers/vendors, a club that includes Amazon.com, Walmart and Staples.

MetaScale, which will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Sears Holdings, offers cloud-based data management and Big Data analysis, specializing in solutions for brick-and-mortar enterprises across multiple industries. MetaScale provides managed services related to the widely adopted Apache Hadoop data management framework.

"MetaScale is uniquely positioned to serve the needs of large-scale enterprise projects," said Sears Holdings CIO Keith Sherwell in a statement. "From a competitive standpoint, MetaScale has identified a gap in the market to provide a superior managed services model to other large-scale traditional enterprises that haven't taken advantage of or investigated the potential of Apache Hadoop."

Developed during the past two years to build the infrastructure needed to manage data for Sears and Kmart stores, MetaScale expects to leverage its Hadoop expertise to partner with analytics tools and service providers as well as system integrators that lack Hadoop-based infrastructure capabilities.

Amazon, which was among the first retailers to branch out into software development with its Amazon Web Services (AWS) subsidiary, recently launched a marketplace where customers can buy software that is pre-configured for the AWS cloud. Since debuting last year, Walmart's @WalmartLabs division has made several strategic purchases of social media and mobile retailing technologies, introducing the Shopycat social shopping app in December 2011. Staples is scheduled to open its E-Commerce Innovation Center in Cambridge, MA this spring.


Palisade Systems and Mobile Active Defense Partner on DLP

Palisade Systems, a vendor in the data security and data loss prevention (DLP) markets, announced that the award-winning mobile security company Mobile Active Defense (M.A.D.) is integrating Palisade Systems' DLP technology into their Mobile Enterprise Compliance Security (MECS) Server offerings to protect sensitive data from being shared or inadvertently leaked from mobile devices and workforces.

The MECS Server extends existing enterprise and network security policies across mobile platforms with unparalleled security, complete encryption, geolocation and granular firewall controls, containerization, a suite of anti-virus and malware detection, content filtering and device management tools -- and now data loss prevention (DLP) functionality -- to provide the most secure solution for a wide range of mobile devices.

"Using mobile devices for business purposes is a way of life for many employees," explained Dr. Guy Helmer, CTO for Palisade Systems. "Our patented technology identifies sensitive content and enforces data usage policies, so companies can add additional security to their mobile devices, such as iPads, iPhones, tablets, smart phones and much more."

There are many factors to consider when looking at DLP solutions. DLP should be able to discover content, not just on Windows servers and clients, but on other OSes; be able to read data from complex applications such as databases; classify content when in use, at rest, or in motion and have built in advanced content matching and data detection techniques.

The Mobile Active Defense implementation of the Palisade technology provides in-depth, proven content analysis capabilities such as:

  • Input, open, and extract text from files in the mobile environment
  • Analyze content of files coming into and leaving mobile devices
  • Determine if any content matches company critical sensitive data including PII, PFI, PHI, intellectual property, structured data, and custom policies
  • Produce an output file indicating the content types that were found, the number of matches, and the text that matched
  • Analyze output and determine an action
  • Provide high-speed remediation through the MECS console


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