Cybersecurity in retail: Five challenges to overcome


The Covid-19 pandemic has hit businesses hard all over the world. High street chains closing their doors for the unseeable and moving to the online sphere has brought the e-commerce sector under immense pressure. With hackers finding loopholes and exploiting security systems, customers filling their digital carts had proven to be yet another challenge for IT decision-makers. A report conducted by SonicWall reveals a 264% surge in ransomware attacks on e-commerce and retail businesses over the past 12 months, resulting in more than 625 million digital attacks throughout 2021. This article aims to ease the burden of business leaders by highlighting the most significant cybersecurity challenges across the retail sector and the potential remedies to address them.

Why is cybersecurity important for the retail industry?

Retailers are an extremely appealing, low-risk target for cybercriminals. They process, store and protect customers’ data and confidential information, such as financial credentials, usernames and passwords, which are vulnerable to attack as they can be easily exploited whether it’s an online or an in-store transaction. 

The past year has seen a proliferation across a litany of cyber-attack activities. Major disruptions affected firms like IT management company Kaseya; furniture retailer IKEA; food retailer SPAR; or the online greetings card and gift business Funky Pigeon, to name a few. In 2020, cyberattacks cost a staggering £5.9 bn loss to online retailers in the UK alone. 

The most dangerous security risks in retail: The biggest challenges

The scale of cyberattacks is hugely influenced by a company’s digital exposure. With the Covid-19 pandemic shaping our shopping habits and, as a result, e-commerce sales rising by 5.1% by 2021, the retail sector is continuing to experience higher levels of security incidents. The following list compiles the cybersecurity challenges retailers will have to face in the coming year:

Cybersecurity Challenge #1: Ransomware

Source: Freepik

  • What ransomware is: Ransomware is a type of malware that limits or prevents a user from accessing their computer system until a ransom fee is paid. To make individuals pay the ransom, threat actors can pressure the organisation by threatening to reveal sensitive information.

  • How to protect your firm: A fine-tuned business antivirus solution offers real-time protection against ransomware. One of the most trusted solutions on the market is Avast, an all-in-one application combining antivirus, VPN, speed-up and security tools to maximise security and protect business assets.

Cybersecurity Challenge #2: Credential phishing

Source: Freepik

  • What credential phishing is: Credential-based attacks occur when a hacker steals credentials to gain access to computer networks and steal critical business data. This often happens by posing as a known or trusted entity in an email, text message or via other communication channels. 

  • How to protect your firm: Keeping security software, operating systems, and internet browsers up to date can help decrease the risk of potentially exposing business information. A consultation with a Managed Service Provider can also help identify additional security measures such as multi-factor authentication or a disaster recovery plan.

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Cybersecurity Challenge #3: Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks

Source: Freepik

  • What a DDoS attack is: A distributed denial-of-service attack is a cybercrime during which the perpetrator floods the targeted server with internet traffic from multiple locations to make online services or websites unavailable. Attackers often target various resources from banks to news sites and retailers to prevent them from publishing and accessing vital information.
  • How to protect your firm: Implementing high levels of network security is essential for stopping any DDoS attempt to protect a business. A managed firewall solution from some of the world’s trusted vendors like Cisco, Draytek, Palo Alto or SonicWall can act as a traffic-scanning barrier between networks. They offer rigorous protection for businesses, including remote devices and secure data against threats with real-time monitoring and troubleshooting.

Cybersecurity Challenge #4: Supply chain attacks

Source: Freepik

  • What a supply chain attack is: It is a type of cyberattack that seeks to damage an organisation by targeting a third-party vendor or supplier vital in providing services to the supply chain. This usually happens by hackers inserting malicious code into software or finding ways to compromise network components to access digital resources. 

  • How to protect your firm: To minimise the toll a supply chain attack can take on a business, preventative measures, such as conducting regular third-party risk assessments, are advised to identify any potential weaknesses and insider threats. A Managed Service Provider can also take a proactive approach and provide endpoint security services that include event log monitoring, threat hunting, intrusion detection and malware/antivirus to detect suspicious behaviour.

Cybersecurity Challenge #5: Data breach

Source: Freepik

  • What a data breach is: A data breach is another type of cyberattack that exposes confidential information. During this security violation, protected or sensitive data is taken from a system without the owner’s permission. This can potentially result in a breach of confidentiality, availability or integrity. Accidentally exposing client information can also have a direct financial impact on a business in the form of fines and compensation. 

  • How to protect your firm: A solid, 360° cybersecurity strategy that covers all the necessities, including endpoint security/antivirus, a managed firewall, DDoS mitigation, regular cybersecurity audits and training for staff with data backup services can decrease the chances of accidentally exposing client data or valuable business information.

IT’s your decision

While the figures outlined in the article may seem daunting, tackling cybersecurity and keeping business data safe is not an impossible journey to embark on. Prevention can often prove to be the best course of action. Taking a proactive approach and contacting a Managed Service Provider to work out a comprehensive strategy can greatly comfort business owners in difficult times. TWC IT Solutions are among the top cybersecurity companies in London according to Techreviewer and was also recognised as one of the top managed service providers by DesignRush. To learn more about how to create an effective cybersecurity plan and the range of cybersecurity solutions, don’t hesitate to reach out to book a free consultation.

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Author’s Bio:

Paolo Sartori


Paolo is the CEO of TWC IT Solutions, one of London’s top IT and cybersecurity companies. He and his service team have delivered technology solutions, including Data Centre, Co-location, VDC (SaaS and IaaS), LAN and WAN (VPLS and MPLS) and Unified Communications to more than 300+ companies, in 400 cities, across 23 countries since 2011.

With over 30 years of customer-facing commercial experience, Paolo is still very much hands-on with clients, ensuring that the right services for their requirements are consistently being delivered.