Risk

10/20/2008
06:19 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
50%
50%

SensorNets To Help Curb Retail Theft

One of the biggest wastes retailers must endure is inventory items that mysteriously disappear. Goods all too commonly vanish from the warehouses where they're stored, during their shipment, and from within the store itself. The German Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS has some ideas on how tech can be used to slow the shrinkage.

One of the biggest wastes retailers must endure is inventory items that mysteriously disappear. Goods all too commonly vanish from the warehouses where they're stored, during their shipment, and from within the store itself. The German Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS has some ideas on how tech can be used to slow the shrinkage.When I worked as a manager of a retail store, admittedly a couple of decades ago, inventory shrinkage was a big concern. Many items listed on the shipping manifest weren't actually in the truck during unloading. Where did they go? Were they ever really put on the truck in the first place? How about the items that disappeared off the store shelves? Were they ever actually on the shelf, or were they counted as received items that never really came in? Maybe they were stolen by a shopper or an employee.

Fraunhofer IIS thinks it can use wireless, ad hoc sensor networks to allow inventories to be tracked throughout delivery. They're calling it the VitOL project. Not sure what that stands for, but that's what it's called, from the company statement:

Intelligent logistical objects -- so-called "smart items" -- for the distribution of high-value or sensitive goods are being developed within the framework of the Fraunhofer VitOL project. By fitting small computers with communications facilities into logistical objects, each item becomes an active part of the IT-solution. Because they are "intelligent" in their own right, they represent significant added value in comparison with classic "passive" RFID systems that only transmit their information when called upon to do so.

What the company is trying to explain is that instead of the old-fashioned passive RFIDs that will transmit some data of their existence, the smart items can actually be "aware" of the items around them. That means is something falls off the crate and bounces off the truck, the remaining sensors will become aware of the loss, and perhaps notify the shipper.

So, maybe in the not-so-distant future, not only will surveillance cameras and security guards be watching in retail stores and stockrooms -- the products may actually be watching each other, too.

Although I haven't spoken with Fraunhofer IIS, I can see a number of fascinating use cases. Perhaps items will be easier to count as they're unpacked after receiving. Retail in-store inventories would be more accurate, and if the device can broadcast that it's leaving the location, the exact date and time it left the store could be reported. And if that time doesn't match a purchase, or intracompany stock transfer -- you know you had a problem and exactly when it happened.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Mobile Malware Incidents Hit 100% of Businesses
Dawn Kawamoto, Associate Editor, Dark Reading,  11/17/2017
3 Ways to Retain Security Operations Staff
Oliver Rochford, Vice President of Security Evangelism at DFLabs,  11/20/2017
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Managing Cyber-Risk
An online breach could have a huge impact on your organization. Here are some strategies for measuring and managing that risk.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2017-0290
Published: 2017-05-09
NScript in mpengine in Microsoft Malware Protection Engine with Engine Version before 1.1.13704.0, as used in Windows Defender and other products, allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code or cause a denial of service (type confusion and application crash) via crafted JavaScript code within ...

CVE-2016-10369
Published: 2017-05-08
unixsocket.c in lxterminal through 0.3.0 insecurely uses /tmp for a socket file, allowing a local user to cause a denial of service (preventing terminal launch), or possibly have other impact (bypassing terminal access control).

CVE-2016-8202
Published: 2017-05-08
A privilege escalation vulnerability in Brocade Fibre Channel SAN products running Brocade Fabric OS (FOS) releases earlier than v7.4.1d and v8.0.1b could allow an authenticated attacker to elevate the privileges of user accounts accessing the system via command line interface. With affected version...

CVE-2016-8209
Published: 2017-05-08
Improper checks for unusual or exceptional conditions in Brocade NetIron 05.8.00 and later releases up to and including 06.1.00, when the Management Module is continuously scanned on port 22, may allow attackers to cause a denial of service (crash and reload) of the management module.

CVE-2017-0890
Published: 2017-05-08
Nextcloud Server before 11.0.3 is vulnerable to an inadequate escaping leading to a XSS vulnerability in the search module. To be exploitable a user has to write or paste malicious content into the search dialogue.