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Online holiday shopping and protecting retail cyber security

Devin Partida writes about cyber security and technology. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of ReHack.com. 

It’s a bit of a chaotic time for retailers worldwide as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and the holiday season quickly approaches. Whether it’s dealing with supply chain disruptions this year or ensuring guest safety in brick-and-mortar stores, retailers are in for a tumultuous ride.

However, it’s expected that this holiday season will be highly profitable for retailers — the National Retail Federation (NRF) expects sales to increase by 8.5%-10.5% over 2020. With that in mind, how can companies prepare for the winter months?

Because online e-commerce has boomed due to the pandemic and new retail technologies continue to emerge, there’s concern that hackers will be looking to pounce on the most vulnerable stores.

Plenty of research shows how the retail industry is more vulnerable to cyber security threats than other sectors. Because of this, retailers must consider implementing a viable, comprehensive cyber security plan they can fall back on if they were to face a threatening attack.

Here are some of the contributing factors that account for this emerging trend and how e-commerce retailers can get ahead of the curve.

E-commerce boom

For the last few years, e-commerce businesses have found much success in the retail industry. As 2022 is just around the corner, it’s become evident that the COVID-19 pandemic strengthened online shopping.

Some businesses had to transition to online channels to stay afloat and maintain a competitive edge. Because more companies are using digital platforms, the risk of facing cyber security attacks grows as well.

Customer data is increasing in value

Increasingly, customer data, such as credit card information, is growing in value. At the same time, retailers face pressures from consumers and government regulations to secure their information and meet data privacy compliance measures to lessen the risk of cyber security threats.

It’s also a growing concern that bad actors will hold consumer data as ransom and demand payment from retailers in exchange for the encrypted information. If that were to happen, stores would lose customers’ trust and be unlikely to regain it.

Retailers are scaling up

To keep up with the increasing demand, retailers have had to scale up their operations more quickly than they’ve had to in the past.

As retailers do what it takes to meet customer demands and expectations, cyber security measures sometimes get left on the backburner. Failure to implement these standards can increase the risk of facing a cyber security incident.

For these reasons, it’s clear that the holiday season will present new challenges for retailers worldwide. Companies must take the time to understand these ongoing issues, create comprehensive, detailed and thorough response plans, and be on high alert for cyber threats.

As online sales continue to increase, so do the risks associated with doing business online. Securing data, implementing best practices for APIs, and educating and vetting temporary workers are all critical steps retailers must take as the holiday season approaches. For example, an employee educated on current social engineering tactics or phishing scams will be more likely to alert management about these issues when they’re identified.

Retailers need to prioritize cyber security

The industry is facing unprecedented cyber security challenges. It’s vital to address any shortcomings and be able to offer customers secure transactions.

Now is the time to adequately prepare for the holiday season and take cyber security plans into account. Retailers need to reach out to qualified professionals if they need help creating feasible safety plans and solutions.

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Disclaimer: The views and information expressed in this article belong to the author and are not necessarily held by CyberTalk.org or Check Point Software. 

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