Commonsense Cybersecurity Considerations for Retail Businesses
The recent holiday shopping season provided a target-rich environment for cyber-criminals. According to the 2020 Trustwave Global Security Report, retail was ranked as the most targeted industry for cyberattacks for the third consecutive year.
A mounting transformation toward a more digital environment – a development attributable in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic – hasn’t made data protection any easier, either.
In fact, as consumers continued to set online sales records throughout the course of 2020, hackers were taking advantage of this swell of opportunities to ply their trade.
Database security has also been a huge area of concern, even for the titans of e-commerce. Earlier in 2020, 8 million customer records belonging to sites like Amazon, eBay, Shopify, and PayPal were exposed as a result of database vulnerability.
All things considered, retailers need to be as prepared as possible for the ongoing surge of cyberattacks. In this article, we’ll take a look at a few key cybersecurity tips that can better equip your retail establishment against cyber-criminals.
Comply with Data Privacy Laws and Regulations
Spurred on by the success of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance program, 42 U.S. states and a host of other countries worldwide have instituted data privacy legislation. Most notable among these is the California Consumer Privacy Act, which went into effect in January 2020. This new legislation alone has given rise to over 50 lawsuits stemming from CCPA violations.
Ultimately, it’s crucial that retailers comply with all privacy regulations that lie within the purview of their operations. Enacting a privacy compliance awareness solution tailored toward retailers can help educate staff on how to work with customers directly, whether online or face-to-face, to better safeguard their personal information.
Ensure That Employees Understand Your Cybersecurity Best Practices
Employees can represent the weakest link or the first line of defense with regard to an organization’s cybersecurity approach.
On the one hand, uninformed and ill-equipped employees lack the experience to consistently identify and deflect cyber-threats – consequently, they are more susceptible to being duped by phishing scams. These same inexpert employees may also be more vulnerable to having their equipment pilfered or compromised due to easily preventable bad habits.
Conducting risk-based security awareness training programs for retail organizations can prompt employees to embrace a more cyber-secure mentality and enrich information security initiatives rather than thwarting them.
No matter how secure a retailer’s IT infrastructure is or how recently they’ve upgraded their antivirus software, the human factor is a crucial step in protecting against cyberattacks.
Implement Multi-Factor Authentication for Card-Based Transactions
On the heels of the 2013 Target breach – one that cost the retail giant a whopping $18.5 million in a multistate court settlement – U.S. retailers took aggressive steps toward implementing the EMV payment system which uses credit and debit cards with embedded chips requiring a PIN or signature in order to finalize the transaction.
Unfortunately, online retailers can’t benefit from the extra layers of security that come with these types of cards. Therefore, it’s essential that they make use of available multi-factor authentication (MFA) options in order to circumvent fraudulent activity.
Customized authentication methods – such as entering a unique alphanumeric code or completing a reCAPTCHA request – can help e-tailers give consumers a seamless, secure checkout process, ensuring peace of mind for both parties.
Analyze Your Site for the Presence of Malicious Code
With chip cards and MFA capabilities helping to impede data compromise at the point of sale, cybercriminals are coming up with new ways to seize users’ personal information during online CNP (card not present) transactions.
Cybersecurity journalist Brian Krebs wrote about how bad actors are undermining e-commerce sites with malicious scripts – a practice sometimes referred to as “formjacking.” Krebs mentions a security vendor that reported seeing nearly a quarter of a million such incidents over the course of a single month.
Krebs suggests that retailers who want to ensure that their site is entirely devoid of malicious code can utilize an online source code viewer to securely inspect the HTML code on any webpage without having to render it in an internet browser.
Check Your Point-of-Sale (POS) Terminals and Network
If your retail business operates a physical shopping location, cybersecurity best practices – such as regularly examining carelessly staffed payment terminals at self-checkouts – is critical.
This practice helps verify whether or not skimmers – used to acquire consumers’ sensitive data such as personal identification numbers (PINs) or account details – have been affixed to your machines. It’s also wise to frequently assess your in-store Wi-Fi access point and your network for rogue devices that a hacker may have installed covertly.
Encrypt Your Data and Network
Even if you’ve done everything you can to keep customer data from being compromised, cybercriminals are constantly improving their schemes and techniques. A simple way to keep your data protected is to enable file and network encryption whenever and wherever possible.
When you encrypt the data, it will remain secure regardless of where it dwells – even if cybercriminals can access it. This extends as far as VPN protection for your work-related Wi-Fi network, a vital security layer for anyone interfacing with or transmitting confidential information over that connection.
Establish a Solid Recovery Plan
Even if you take every precaution outlined above, it’s conceivable that a cyberattack could still occur. To avert chaos and irreversible data loss, make sure that your organization has a robust, executable recovery plan at the ready. This type of strategy comprises data backup and system reset details, as well as aligning with internet or hosting service providers.
Despite the continuing uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, retail businesses can and still will thrive, whether in-person, online, or both. Keeping these businesses cyber-secure is essential for both the organizations themselves and the overall economy.
By following the guidance delineated here, your retail establishment can be better protected against the persistent attacks of determined hackers. But you don’t have to go it alone.
DataGroup Technologies has a proven history of providing state-of-the-art cybersecurity services to its loyal customers. We can help your business as well. Reach out to us today by calling 252.329.1382 or by dropping us a line here. We can help you #SimplifyIT!