5 Tips for Achieving Cyber Security in the Retail Industry

February 13, 2021 by Stefanini

The retail industry has been hit hard by COVID-19, making cyber security more prevalent than ever before. Get tips on improving your business’ IT security posture!

The retail industry is no stranger to cyberattacks. After all, many retail businesses possess consumers’ personally identifiable information (PII), which can easily be linked to payment data like credit cards needed to complete transactions. And when hacks occur successfully, customers’ data can be sold on the dark web and used for targeted marketing campaigns. Further, new profiles can be made and used to run phishing campaigns.

Unfortunately, cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated and are even being automated. That’s why there is no better time to start implementing security measures that will ensure business continuity for retailers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cyber Security in Retail amidst COVID-19

Without a doubt, the retail industry is one of the industries that has been hit hardest by the current pandemic. Layoffs have occurred across the industry and many large retailers have declared bankruptcy.

According to Security Magazine, COVID-19 has redefined resiliency for businesses, particularly retailers. “Essential” businesses like supermarkets and pharmacies have remained open, which has forced businesses to figure out how to operate safely while the pandemic rages on. At the same time, other retailers have had to close physical locations, which poses challenges both with safely reopening stores while establishing and maintaining and online presence. And for companies looking to return to operations smoothly while maintaining their brand images/reputations, cyber security has become an even higher priority.

Currently, many retailers maintain environments that are stuffed with IoT devices. In fact, the average retail environment has 500 devices per every 100 employees, which need to be secured and managed. While self-scanners and point of sale (POS) systems can enhance the customer experience, they can also challenge IT and security teams by vastly increasing the attack surface for an organization. Further, the underlying software and hardware components that support these systems can be vulnerable and hard to fix once damaged. This challenging reality begs the question – how can retailers ensure the cyber security behind their organizations and ensure data protection?

Online Retail Security Measures

When it comes to implementing a cyber security strategy, retailers need to start by increasing device visibility while also considering tools like network segmentation, which gives security teams greater control over what parts of their network devices can access. Another handy aspect of this tool is the fact that it can prevent the lateral movement of an attack across the network, which could prevent hackers from accessing sensitive data and limit the scope of a ransomware attack.

By integrating these types of tools, retailers can prevent catastrophic attacks that could disrupt businesses returning to in-person environments and most importantly, keep customers safe physically and digitally in a post-pandemic world.  

Tips for Overcoming Retail Cyber Security Challenges

Tips for Overcoming Retail Cyber Security Challenges

For the past few years, retail is the industry that has topped the list of organizations that have faced cyberattacks. Forbes outlines the following cyber security challenges retailers face:

1.      Cloud adoption

More and more organizations can be found on the cloud these days, and retail businesses are no exception. As noted at the beginning of this article, e-commerce has become a main target for cyberattacks due to the rich repository of PII that can be linked to payment data. Identity theft, phishing campaigns, and more can happen when the cloud is hacked, which is why it’s super important for retailers to properly secure their clouds.

2.      Phishing attacks

According to TotalRetail, these types of campaigns are not new to retailers. Unfortunately, in a world currently confined to remote work stations, the number of phishing attempts has increased exponentially. Employees must be trained to differentiate a scam email from a genuine one. Another way to ward off these types of attacks? Register domains that closely resemble your brand’s name.

3.      Application attacks

Many retailers running e-commerce platforms are racing to deliver a positive customer experience, which often leads to neglecting securing applications in the process. It doesn’t help that many retailers’ perceptions of cyberattacks are tied to revenue – that’s why something like crypto mining malware – which farms the resources on a system for the financial benefit of cyber criminals – on servers can be regarded as “costing” less than the actions needed to remove it. Further, taking longer to release new features because of security testing may be perceived as a threat to the bottom line. Yet, these types of tests and features are necessary in order to minimize long-term damage.

4.      Security maturity

An information security standard for organizations that handle credit cards, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) helps prevent data theft and fraud. Compliance with PCI is required by law in many U.S. states and European countries. To be PCI-compliant, organizations running public applications must place security itself, testing, and coding best practices on their priorities list. To do this, retailers should understand the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) Top 10, regularly run security-focused testing, sanitize user input, monitor third party component vendor sites, and authenticate all remotely accessible end-points.

5.      Establish IT governance

Keeping up a strong IT security posture is a continuous process that regularly calls for review. When building a modern IT security team, retailers need to hire expert threat hunters and data analysts who can predict how the most valuable could be stolen and constantly be checking for points where an intruder may have gained access. It can be hard to find and retain these cyber security skills, but are necessary in order to build a team that focuses on maturity and improvement programs.

Stefanini Understands Retail Cyber Security

When it comes to building the optimal customer experience for retailers, our approach focuses on strategy, data, and quality user experience at every touchpoint. Yet, the best customer experience means nothing when cyber security disasters happen.

We are best-in-class cyber security experts, ethical hackers, and security consultants who will help your business protect its data and stand out from the competition through a strong IT security posture. Our security assessments can help your organization secure its applications, comply with laws and regulations, and discover exposed, hidden assets.

Don’t leave cyber security to chance – partner with Stefanini to ensure your business is wholly protected. Reach out today to get started!

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