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Retailers amongst most targeted by cybercriminals

By Shannon Williams
Thu 2 Jun 2022

Retailers are amongst the most targeted organisations for cybercriminals, and it's important to make sure security is strong, particularly ahead of major shopping events, according to security firm Sekuro.

Prashant Haldankar, CISO at Sekuro, says whilst online shopping has opened up a whole new world of convenience, it has meant retailers (and their customers) have increasingly become targets of cyber attackers and scammers. 

"Every e-commerce transaction handles a lot of sensitive personal information - from your name, address, and phone number to your bank or credit card details," says Haldankar. 

"So, retailers need to make sure their security posture is watertight; particularly ahead of major shopping events like EOFY sales," he says.

Sophos found that retail, together with education, was the sector most hit by ransomware in 2020 with 44% of organisations hit (compared to 37% across all industry sectors). Other common attacks against retailers include credential phishing and malware attacks.

"Any of these can lead to disaster for a retailer and their customers - from halting operations over critical shopping periods to stolen customer credit card information being used to make fraudulent purchases, to people's personal information being held for ransom or sold on the dark web," says Haldankar.

"This rise in retail cybersecurity attacks may be due to a combination of factors including; higher yield for a hacker to gain consumers personal information enabling them to use same attack template on similar retail organisations, and social engineering activities to compromise security, often not anticipated by retailers, leaving retail organisations vulnerable to hackers wanting to use their employees and others to gain sensitive information."

Research from Fortinet also shows that as retail businesses expand, so do their attack surfaces. Whether retailers are growing via brick-and-mortar shops or online, each new outlet, store, or website is a potential target for retail cybersecurity threats.

"So how can retailers stay ahead of constantly evolving threats? When it comes to credential phishing, most think attackers are only targeting consumers, but research shows that scammers are increasingly going after corporate targets," Haldankar says. 

"This is because hackers can use one account as a starting point to attempt further phishing operations within an organisation and throughout its supply chain - including gaining access to customer credentials," he says. 

"Strong security training for staff and email protection is your best line of defence here."

To mitigate the risk of malware and ransomware, tools such as firewalls and intrusion detection/prevention systems can help protect retailers from remote attacks. Again, email services can also be configured to block links that trick staff into visiting malicious sites or opening dangerous attachments, Haldankar says.

"The age-old adage of frequent patching is also key to make sure known exploitations don't leave the door open for attackers," he says. 

"It's also critical to have a valid backup strategy so if the worst does happen - only the minimum amount of data is lost."

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