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Retail Cybersecurity: What Small Retailers Should Know

With the rise of e-commerce, consumers are spending more money on their online retail transactions. In 2021, Americans spent $871 billion on online shopping. Such high expenditure means most retailers are responding to consumers’ demand for more shopping convenience.
However, as retailers increasingly digitize their operations to provide this convenience, they become more vulnerable to cyberattacks. Retail cybersecurity data shows that retailers are the target of 24% of cyberattacks. This figure is no surprise, given that retailers handle large amounts of customer data.

While we often don’t hear about small retail shop owners being victims of cybercrime, your business isn’t immune. As long as you have an online presence, you must protect yourself and your customers.

Here are a few things you should keep in mind when it comes to retail cybersecurity.

Phishing Attacks Are on the Rise

Phishing is one of the most common types of social engineering attacks. The attack occurs when a hacker uses fraudulent emails or websites to trick people into giving them sensitive information, such as passwords or credit card numbers.

The risk of attack is high given that 70% of phishing targets open fraudulent emails that contain a link to malware. Once the malware is on the system, it can steal your retail data. Hackers know that if they can trick just one person in an organization, they can gain access to sensitive data.

That’s why it’s essential to educate all your employees on how to identify phishing attempts. They should be on the lookout for red flags, such as unexpected attachments or requests for personal information.

Credential Stuffing is a Serious Threat

Credential stuffing is a type of cyberattack in which hackers use stolen credentials to gain access to people’s accounts. The attack is widespread on retail websites.

Data shows that employees reuse one password an average of 13 times, and that 64% of internet users use the same compromised password in another account. Given these statistics, it’s not surprising that credential stuffing is a significant problem in the retail industry.

Once cybercriminals have a list of stolen credentials, they can use automation tools to try the passwords on different retail sites until they find one that works. You can protect your shop from credential stuffing attacks through strong password policies and multifactor authentication (MFA).

Compliance With PCI DSS Requirements Will Make Your Point-of-Services More Secure

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of security requirements for businesses that accept credit card payments.

If you take credit card payments in your shop, you must comply with the PCI DSS requirements. The requirements are designed to protect customer data and prevent fraud. Some key requirements include protecting the cardholder data in your retail system and using a firewall configuration to protect the data.

Failure to comply with PCI DSS requirements increases the risk of attackers stealing your customers’ personally identifiable information. They can use RAM-scraping malware to capture this information from the point-of-service devices in your shop.

Defense-in-Depth and Zero Trust Approaches Will Enhance Your Retail Cybersecurity

A defense-in-depth approach is a security strategy that uses multiple layers of security to protect data. If one layer is breached, the other layers will stop the attacker from accessing the data. Some security measures you can implement include firewalls, encryption, and multi-factor authentication.

In addition to a defense-in-depth approach, you should implement a zero-trust approach. This approach assumes that all users, devices, and networks are untrusted.

With a zero-trust approach, you need to verify the identity of everyone who wants to access your shop’s data. You can do this with multi-factor authentication.

Third-party Vendors Can Introduce Risk Into Your Retail Environment

If you use third-party vendors, you need to vet them before you do business with them. You should ensure they have a strong security posture and understand your shop’s security requirements. You also need to have a contract that requires the vendor to meet your shop’s security standards.

If you work with third parties, it’s your responsibility to secure your endpoints, devices, and VPNs to prevent unauthorized access to your shop’s data. You should also regularly audit all the third-party devices and systems that access your network. If a device doesn’t meet your security standards, you should block it from accessing your network.

Stay On Top of Retail Cybersecurity Threats

As retail cybersecurity threats continue to evolve, small retailers should be aware of the risks and take steps to protect themselves and their customers. The goal should be to make it difficult for attackers to access your shop’s data.


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