Overcoming Cyber Security Concerns
for the Modern Retail Business

You’d be correct in thinking that the traditional high street has taken a beating in recent years and, unfortunately, that trend is only set to continue. 

Home | Overcoming Cyber Security Concerns for the Modern Retail Business

Mike Gatty

21st October 2019

by Mike Gatty 

Head of Secure Connectivity

Recent reports from the British Retail Consortium have shown that retail footfall is down 10% in seven years. It’s also been predicted that sales on the high street over the 2019 Christmas period will be the worst since the 2008 recession.

But why? Perhaps the most significant factor in this decline for traditional bricks and mortar retailers is the meteoric rise in popularity of e-commerce and m-commerce, or as most of us probably refer to it: online shopping.

Modern Consumers Want Mobile Experiences

The current availability and capability of personal technology – from smartphones to social media – have been driving modern consumers’ hunger for speed, convenience, and personalisation for some time now, especially when it comes to engaging with brands to pay for their products and services.

It’s no secret that most businesses which have ignored this trend, and failed to transition over to the digital arena, have likely found themselves in a position where they can no longer keep up with their more forward-thinking competitors (and that’s not to mention fighting against the tightening grip organisations like Amazon now have on the global market). 

But for those once-high street-based retailers, evolving to offer products and services online isn’t where the hard work stops. Transactions which take place online provide retailers with a responsibility to process and store the personal data of their customers within their IT systems. Therefore, it’s crucial for these businesses to recognise the importance of protecting such data whenever they’re interacting with it in a digital format, or risk losing far more in the long-term.

Cyber Security is a Serious Concern

A study by KPMG found that 19% of consumers said they’d completely stop shopping at a retailer after a cyber security breach or loss of data, and 33% said they’d take a break from shopping there for an extended period of time.

If we’re to take this at face value, major organisations like British Airways, Adidas, Fortnum & Mason, and Marriot have all just lost a large chunk of their custom based on a devastating but singular cyber attack. Let’s imagine this occurred annually; the damage realised during these breaches could cost millions in revenues, and even more in terms of their brand reputation.

So, how do you ensure consumers feel comfortable sharing those personal details when reports of damaging data breaches and online theft are becoming increasingly common?

Take These Steps to Assess and Improve Security

The first step that must be taken to mitigating the risk is reviewing existing systems and ensuring they’re robust enough to combat attempted breaches. This is a good first step, as it allows you to first focus on what’s in your control. Considering that all customers will have provided credit card details at online POS (point of sale), it’s critical that the foundations are secured with up-to-date technology.

Secondly, self-examination using insights from data will help to uncover further vulnerabilities. These observations can be used to ensure systems are secure by design, then deploy cyber assessment tools to detail possible entry points to protect from attacks.

Lastly, drawing up an on-going strategy to continue to combat ever-increasing attempts at cyber crime will be critical to any business moving forward. Companies are only as smart as today’s criminals; tomorrow’s attackers will be new and improved while they attempt to constantly probe the business for vulnerabilities.

Retailers need to be aware that as technology evolves, so do the capabilities of those with malicious intent, so a routine review, analysis, and update will always be necessary to keep systems and customers protected long-term.

With GDPR afoot, and the risk of weighty fines and the potential loss of business looming for any data breaches, it’s crucial that retail organisations take the protection of their customers’ sensitive personal information seriously in the place that’s most vulnerable these days, and that’s online.

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