Cyber security is one of the most significant issues of modern times. As technology has grown and evolved at such a rapid pace in recent years and the world has shifted into digital and virtual spaces, new threats and dangers have emerged, with literally tens of millions of retail cyber attacks happening every single day, all over the globe.
In response, cyber security measures have been developed to help keep up with the hackers and virus-makers, aimed at defending individuals and enterprises alike from having their data stolen, their accounts hacked, their devices infected, and their businesses brought to a grinding halt.
These measures are absolutely critical in all walks of life, including in the retail sector.
While a lot of retail business is still done in brick and mortar establishments, with face-to-face transactions, the threats of cyber attacks for retail businesses are still very high as mobile devices and connected networks play an increasingly larger role in this sector.
This guide will look at some examples of cyber security threats in retail, as well as how to prevent them.
Examples of Cyber security Threats for Retail
It doesn’t matter what industry your business operates in; in the modern world, cyber attacks can target anyone at all, from an individual in the comfort of their own home to a multi-billion dollar global corporation with offices across the world.
In the retail industry too, businesses of different sizes and styles can all be seen as prime targets for hackers and cyber-criminals, and there are many different ways in which retail cyber attacks can occur., with reports showing that 1 in 8 retailers experience some form of cyber attack every year.
One of the biggest issues for retail to address when it comes to cyber security for retail is the fact that these attacks can occur in a lot of different ways, targeting both online retailers and occurring in point of sale (POS) situations. Here are a few examples:
- Hardware Drops – Some hackers can be very innovative with their methods of attack. They may, for instance, deposit a USB drive containing viruses or malware in a physical store location. A helpful employee might find the ‘lost’ USB stick and insert it into one of the store’s computers to find out what’s inside and try to find the owner, inadvertently unleashing a virus into the company’s entire network.
- Hacking – Hackers don’t even need to leave their homes in order to infiltrate the networks of some retail companies. They can break in via their own methods and gain access to reams of customer data, including names, contact details, card numbers, and so on. We’ve seen countless examples of these kinds of attacks, with many high-profile businesses targeted successfully, proving that even some of the top brands don’t have sufficient cyber security.
- Malicious Emails – It’s also possible for hackers to pose as customers, sending emails to the business pretending to be claiming for a refund or making a request about a product they’ve purchased. They often include an attachment in the email which seems to be a simple photo or receipt PDF, but when a retail employee opens that attachment, a virus can be unleashed on the entire network.
Prevention of Cyber attacks for Retail
These examples show that hackers can employ a wide range of methods to try and steal data or infiltrate your networks, which is why it’s so important to be prepared. Here are a few key methods businesses can use:
- Training – Arguably the most important prevention method of all is making sure employees are fully trained in cyber security, as it’s often the case that one employee’s mistake or oversight puts the entire company at risk.
- Anti-malware – Devices throughout the entire business should be equipped with high-end anti-malware software in order to detect and quarantine possible threats like viruses before they do any serious damage.
- Turn to the Pros – There are also many cyber security experts and companies out there you can consult. They’ll be able to run tests and analyze your current security situation, suggesting improvements, making changes, or even taking over control of your entire security system to let you focus on other matters.
The retail industry, just like so many others, is at great risk from cyber attacks and digital threats of all kinds, and it’s important for retail business owners to take this matter seriously, especially as they typically handle and store huge amounts of customer data which could be used in terrible ways if it falls into the wrong hands.