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The Rise of Cyberattacks on Retail Organisations: How to Stay Secure

In recent years, cyberattacks have become increasingly common across various industries, and the retail industry is no exception. The frequency of attacks on retailers has surged, with several high-profile breaches in the UK alone. One of the most recent attacks targeted WH Smith, which suffered not one but two cyberattacks, the second involving a data breach of staff information. 

It’s not only WH Smith that has fallen victim to cybercriminals. Retailers such as The Works, KP Snacks, SPAR, Funky Pigeon, and JD Sports have also suffered significant data breaches, with customer and employee data being stolen, causing reputational damage and financial loss. 

Cybercriminals have their reasons for targeting the retail industry. Retailers hold large amounts of customer and employee data that, if breached, can cause significant reputational and financial harm. As such, retailers are attractive targets for cybercriminals who aim to profit from the valuable data they hold. 

To protect against the increasing threat of cyberattacks, retailers must take necessary measures to secure their networks and systems.  

Here are some quick-win steps that retailers can take to protect themselves from cyberattacks: 

Educate Employees:

Employees are often the weakest link in an organisation’s cybersecurity defences. Retailers should educate their employees about the risks of cyberattacks and provide them with awareness training on how to identify and respond to suspicious phishing emails, links, and attachments. 

Implement Multi-Factor Authentication:

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a security measure that requires users to provide two or more forms of identification before they can access an account or system. Retailers should implement MFA for all their accounts and systems to reduce the risk of unauthorised access. 

Regularly Backup Data:

Regular data backups can help retailers recover quickly from a ransomware attack. Retailers should back up their data regularly and ensure that the backups are stored securely offsite. However, with the progression and proliferation of cybercrime – ransomware in particular – back-ups are less efficacious in the face of increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks so can’t be taken as the only mitigation step. 

Develop a Response Plan:

Retailers should develop a response plan for cyberattacks, including ransomware attacks. The plan should include steps for identifying and containing the attack, restoring systems, and communicating with customers and employees. 

Conduct Regular Penetration Testing:

One critical step that retailers can take to protect themselves from cyberattacks is to conduct regular penetration testing. Penetration testing is the process of testing a system or network for vulnerabilities that could be exploited by cybercriminals. By conducting regular penetration testing, retailers can identify vulnerabilities and take action to address them before they can be exploited. 

Proactive Security Monitoring:

The retail industry is at high risk of cyberattacks due to the valuable data they hold. It is, therefore, vital for retailers to take necessary measures to secure their networks and systems from cybercriminals. By implementing the above measures, retailers can significantly reduce their risk of falling victim to cyberattacks and protect their customers’ and employees’ data. 

With cyberattacks no longer an ‘if’ but a ‘when’, it’s clear that implementing a proactive cybersecurity strategy has never been more important for retailers. In addition to having critical incident response procedures in place to ensure swift remediation in the event of a breach, implementing a Security Operations Centre (SOC) is also key to guarantee 24/7/365 threat monitoring and detection.  

While larger brands may have the resources to build a SOC function in-house, smaller retailers with fewer internal resources and cyber professionals can look to outsource their Security Operations Centre (SOC) service to cybersecurity experts. This brings aggregate knowledge of the ever-evolving threat landscape and 24/7/365 monitoring for attacks day and night, which in the case of all the recent retail industry attacks, would have mitigated the risks of the breach.   

If you’re concerned about the increase in ransomware attacks on retail comoanies and are looking into how you can better protect your business, get in touch with us. We have some of the highest qualified security professionals in the country ready to help you take your first step to safeguard your organisation. 

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