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What are the key cybersecurity threats in the retail sector?

04 February, 2022

It goes without saying but, if your business is targeted with a cyberattack, it could cause catastrophic damage. A glance at the morning news will tell you as much.

There are severe consequences for those who fall victim, from financial losses, disruption in productivity, and reputational damage to investigations from regulators. Unfortunately, cyberattacks have become a common occurrence for businesses of all sizes - with two in five UK firms experiencing cybersecurity breaches in the last 12 months.

Some sectors, however, are at greater risk than others. Today, we’re going to share with you the critical statistics around retail’s cybersecurity threat.

Why is retail at risk?

The eCommerce sector has experienced significant growth in recent years, with global eCommerce growth reaching 25.7% in 2020, mainly attributed to the pandemic. Due to the increase in people using eCommerce websites to make online purchases, there is more data, more businesses, and more people for hackers to target than ever before.

Retail is one of the most vulnerable industries due to the high volume of private financial information transferred when customers purchase products. Even retailers’ customers are at risk because of the card payment details and other sensitive information saved to their accounts. It makes it quicker and easier to pay when you shop online, but don’t be surprised if those details end up in the wrong hands.

In many cases, hackers have been able to access this data and sell it on the dark web or use it for credential stuffing, which involves using the same login details across numerous different sites at once.

What are the most common retail cyberattack methods?

As with any sector, cybercriminals use various attack methods to prise data from retail organisations. However, there are some which are particularly common for retail sector institutions, including:

POS (Point-of-Sale) attacks

These attacks involve using malicious malware that steals card payment details when a customer enters them onto a website or uses a till in a store. Typically occurring due to human error or weak security systems, these attacks can scrape the card data of millions of individuals.

Ransomware attacks

Ransomware attacks have become an all-too-common occurrence for retail sector organisations, with just this week seeing KP Snacks fall victim to an attack that has crippled their manufacturing.

These attacks usually begin with social engineering techniques or phishing emails, which encourage unsuspecting members of your team to install malware. From there, hackers can lock down data and systems until a ransom has been paid to remove the block. This often happens to retailers at times of the year when they are particularly busy, to cause as much damage and pressure to pay as possible.

Phishing attacks

Did you know that 90% of breaches start with a phishing email? With 3.4 billion phishing emails sent per day globally, it’s little wonder that it’s such an effective method of attack.

Phishing attacks work by sending seemingly realistic emails, SMS messages or phone calls which are designed to expose private information, like passwords or banking details.

Oftentimes, it only takes one member of a team to fall victim to such an attack to compromise an entire system, highlighting the need for phishing awareness training within every organisation.

Website application attacks

Retail has changed, and so have the methods by which scammers and criminals attempt to steal from you. Website application attacks are where hackers exploit security vulnerabilities on a retailer’s website. Typically, these occur when access is granted by unsecure passwords or your website is running on outdated software.

What should retailers do to prevent cyberattacks?

As high-value targets for cybercriminals, it’s crucial that retailers approach their cybersecurity protections in a holistic manner.

Both hardware and software solutions have a role to play, from investing in high-quality security software like remote back-up and restoration tools, encryption software, alongside firewalls and other automated malware prevention tools.

However, with 90% of breaches occurring due to human error, the most effective way to protect a business from cyberattacks is to provide high-quality cybersecurity training to employees to help develop an internal culture of security-focused people.

How Bob’s Business helps retail sector organisations

Bob’s Business is a leading cybersecurity awareness training provider that uses innovative e-learning strategies, engaging animations and storytelling to industry-leading engagement rates of over 95%.

Our training solutions help retailers, and a wide range of businesses from other industries, to protect their business by empowering employees with the skills and knowledge to prevent cyberattacks. Find out more about our cybersecurity courses today, and you will receive 50% off your first year with Bob’s Culture.

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