New technology has brought with it many benefits, making countless tasks easier in both the personal and professional worlds, and opening up so many new doors of opportunity across many different industries. Unfortunately, the latest technological innovations also bring with them a range of new risks and threats that need to be addressed.
There are tens of millions of cyber-attacks occurring on a daily basis, targeting not just individuals, but companies great and small, and the effects of such effects can be devastating in any industry, including the world of retail. In the retail sector, a single data leak, breach, or device infection can lead to catastrophic consequences, which is why it’s so important for retail businesses to act now.
Any company wishing to remain in the retail sector of today and continue to grow and evolve over time has to be ready to embrace new technology and respond to digital threats. This guide will therefore cover some of the many cybersecurity threats that a retail business can face, as well as explaining preventative measures like data security for retail.
What Are the Cybersecurity Threats for Retail?
In this day and age, the threat of cyber-attacks is something that people across every industry have to worry about. Even though a lot of retail business is still done face-to-face in classic brick and mortar establishments, there’s an increasing amount of business being done online, and retail companies are more heavily relying on servers, networks, and connected devices to continue their operations.
There are a range of different threats that can target these kinds of businesses, and many hackers and other malicious agents often see retail companies as easy targets. These companies, especially those that are smaller, often fail to invest in serious cybersecurity measures and can put their sensitive data at risk, with 1 in 8 retailers being targeted every year.
If your company finds itself targeted by an attack, there are many possible negative consequences which might ensure. A store’s network could be compromised, for example, or the personal information of customers could be stolen and sold all across the internet. You could also see downtime delays and interruptions to your systems that prevent your businesses from operating effectively.
Here are just some examples of how hackers might try to target a retail company:
- USB Drops – A USB drop is a very rudimentary form of cyber-attack, but it’s one that still gets results for the hackers in a lot of cases. In this kind of attack, a hacker may actually enter a physical store and leave a USB stick lying around somewhere, like in the changing rooms of a clothing store. The staff might find the stick and plug it in to a computer, trying to be helpful and hoping to find the owner. Little do they know that the USB device is actually filled with malware that immediately infects the system.
- Email Attacks – Another common method that is used by hackers to target a lot of retail businesses comes in the form of email attacks. With this kind of hack, a hacker will attach infected files or viruses to an email and then send it out to the retail company, posing as a disgruntled customer making a complaint or requesting a refund. The dangerous files may be disguised as a simple receipt PDF or similar document, and an unassuming employee could open the file and put the whole network at risk.
Prevention of Cyber-attacks for Retail
The above examples show just a couple of methods hackers might use to attack retail businesses, and they have many other tools up their sleeves. Fortunately, it’s possible for businesses to respond by defending themselves against these kinds of attacks:
- Training – As we’ve seen in our examples, it’s often employees who make the mistake of allowing attacks to happen, often because they don’t know any better. Training employees in the importance of cybersecurity is therefore essential in retail.
- Malware Protection – There are also a range of different anti-malware, antivirus, and other protective services you can set up on your retail devices and networks to safeguard against threats.
- Professional Aid – It’s also common for retail businesses to seek out the services of IT security consultants, SaaS companies, and other security professionals to bolster their cyber-defenses.
Just like any other industry, the retail industry is under threat from cyber-attacks and needs to respond right away in order to reduce the risk of these attacks being successful.