If you own and manage a retail business, you need to be aware of your cybersecurity requirements of compliance when dealing with sensitive data. While businesses in the healthcare industry or in banking have mandatory protective requirements for customers and staff when it comes to cybersecurity, the retail industry is a bit different.
Retail businesses are constantly changing and evolving. The possibility to purchase items online through eCommerce has increased cybersecurity challenges tenfold. With the arrival of the digital age most people shop monthly online using computers, tablets, or smartphones, so hacking and data breaches have become a serious threat to retailers with an enormous cost to both budgets and reputations.
Nowadays, it is a given that retailers must operate online to remain relevant and competitive. This translates into increased cybersecurity challenges. Cybersecurity and hacking threats can be very expensive and even place customers at risk.
What Are Cybersecurity Challenges for Retail Businesses?
When involved in online retail, there are a variety of common security risks that can occur at just about any level. Here are some common threats to prepare for.
1. Data Breaches
Data breaches allow hackers to steal any stored payment information such as credit or debit cards. They often appear legitimate to get in the door. Financial data is then sold to bad actors underground for financial gain.
2. Device Vulnerabilities
Many attackers will attempt to directly penetrate devices, especially those using contactless technology. Bad actors will attempt to harvest data directly from IoT devices.
3. Refund Fraud
Whether a hacker is paying for an article with stolen credit card information, pretends a purchase never arrived or provides a fake receipt for a purchase never made, this person or persons will ask for an unwarranted refund. While these refunds may appear to be of small amounts, when repeated at various levels, they can add up to a considerable loss in profits.
4. Software Vulnerability
Software ages relatively rapidly leaving vulnerabilities. Updating software regularly is one of the best ways to protect against vulnerabilities. Depending on the systems used, this may be necessary to do manually. If you do not apply updates as soon as there are released your software will be vulnerable and open to hacking. Because most software is connected in some form, an entire system can be open to attack.
Operating systems and apps in use must be promptly updated as well so if a system has automatic updates for security patches, it should be used.
5. Spam and Phishing
Although two of the oldest tricks in a hacker’s repertory, they work. Hackers wait for your staff to open a spam email that will permit them to access financial and bank data. Spammers may be stealing from your business and your clients and you may not initially notice. They can also use spam to install malware or ransomware, penetrating and attacking your entire online retail system.
Ransomware can be installed, and hackers will encrypt your entire system, freezing your operations and causing huge monetary losses until you pay a ransom.
6. Supply Chain Threats
Many retail businesses use supply chains meaning that confidential information may be shared with several or even many vendors. Hackers will attempt to infiltrate the less-secure supply elements in a network. They can steal millions of email addresses or worse through the vendors you work with.
How to Boost Your Retail Business’s Cybersecurity
With technological advances come increased security challenges and threats. As technology moves forward, bad actors increase efforts to violate those systems. Here are some of the top four tips to help you protect your clients and your retail business, and to stay on top of challenges.
1. Compliance with Security Regulations and Employee Preparedness
The foundation of any security strategy is to make sure your retail business is complying with all data and privacy regulations for your country. Privacy laws will zero in on how you collect personal data, retain, and store it, and protect it. Protecting your clients’ data will contribute to keeping customers returning and ward off potential legal problems and lawsuits.
Another pillar of your retail business cybersecurity will be keeping your employees in the loop. They are generally the weakest link in any business operation. Untrained employees will not spot suspicious cyber threats and can easily become victims of schemes by bad actors. Employees can lose devices or expose them to cyber-attacks. Employees are an important part of your defense. Regardless of how advanced your cybersecurity system is, the human factor can send the entire system tumbling down.
2. Encryption, Disaster Recovery, and Multifactor Authentication
Any data that is stored in your system needs to be encrypted. Consider investing in a cloud-based system that has integrated security to protect all information as well as your retail transactions. These systems can impede third-party bad actors from interfering with your data transmission and storage. While on-premises storage can be effective, cloud-based systems generally offer firewalls, data masking, access control, and intelligence regarding threats. A crucial part of your data storage will also be a disaster recovery strategy with data backup and system reset in the event of lost or stolen info.
While utilizing encryptions for all stored and transmitted data, it is also wise to introduce MFA. Check-out and payment processes for customers should include multi-factor authentication for added security to contrast fraud.
3. Network, POS Terminal, and Website Security
If your retail business includes a brick-and-mortar shop, cybersecurity is just as important for physical shopping locations. PoS systems and payment terminals can be vulnerable. Self-pay and payment terminals need to be audited regularly for data theft devices and skimmers that steal client information.
Consider VPN protection for your business wi-fi network as well as anti-malware software to add another security layer. Also, have your website checked for malicious codes which is one of the newer methods bad actors use to capture sensitive data for online purchases. Your systems as well as those of your business partners need to be reviewed at regular intervals.
4. The Integration of Physical Security with Cybersecurity
Physical security teams manage access control, physical logistical monitoring, and security personnel. Cybersecurity pros are dedicated to contrasting cybercrime. IT and technological advancement are now more than ever cloud-based and often remotely managed to make cyber security directly linked to physical property security.
Access management and touchless access systems, retail security cameras, video feed, and smart locks are increasingly integrated into physical facility security. Automated physical systems can also be targeted by hackers. This makes convergence strategies and practices for combining shared security objectives to protect spaces and protect IT systems more relevant and indispensable than ever.
Cyber breaches are not limited to sensitive data storage but may include access locks, alarm systems, video feed cams, and even smartphones using apps. These breaches can place the security of physical retail properties for companies at risk.
Meeting the Challenges
The growing move to a digital world has brought not only incredible advantages but equally formidable challenges. Cybersecurity is not optional for any retail business whether brick-and-mortar or eCommerce based.
Aside from investing in cybersecurity for your company and top-notch IT security professionals, retail business entrepreneurs need to remain updated regarding evolving cyber threats and what the cybersecurity industry has to offer in terms of new technology to contrast new threats.
It can often be difficult to get started on your cyber resilience journey at first. You could opt for a convenient and cost-service like a Virtual Cyber Assistant to help you identify where to start from & how to create effective cybersecurity policies and procedures.