Skip to main content

5 New Retail Cybersecurity Threats to Look Out For

Posted on September 21st, 2020

The retail industry has been a long-standing target for hackers. As many retailers move toward cloud environments and organizations continue to utilize big data for improved customer experiences, they are opening themselves up to a new world of emerging retail cybersecurity threats. While technology has helped combat some of these threats, it has also opened retailers up to new and advanced threats as cybercriminals adapt their strategies to stay ahead.

Retailers have an obligation to protect the sensitive data that they collect, however many are finding themselves struggling to keep up with the expansive and always-growing list of threats to the industry. By knowing what retail cybersecurity threats to look for, organizations can more effectively defend against threats to their network and keep critical data secure.

What is retail cybersecurity?

In regard to cybersecurity, retailers must monitor the cyberhealth of their computers as well as their point-of-sale (POS) systems. They are often responsible for large amounts of sensitive data, the most important of which is customer payment card information (PCI). This valuable financial data is an ideal target for hackers as they can sell it on the dark web for profit, offer to sell it back for ransom, or simply use it themselves to make unauthorized purchases.

5 emerging retail cybersecurity threats

The leading retail cybersecurity threats to look out for are continuously changing as organizations become increasingly cyber aware, forcing hackers to create new attack methods.

Explore 5 emerging threats that retail organizations should be aware of to stay a step ahead:

1. Botnets

Botnets are a network of connected computers that have been infected with malware under the control of hackers. These devices work together to perform a series of repetitive tasks that can overwhelm an organization’s network, which can lead to operational inefficiencies if control is not regained in a timely manner. Botnets are also often used to carry out other malicious attacks like stealing customer data, cart blocking, and bandwidth choking.

Continuous monitoring is key to protecting networks from botnets, as it enables teams to act quickly to mitigate threats. In the event of a botnet attack, IT teams should run an antivirus scan on infected computers in order to remove the malicious software that has taken over the network. It’s also important to consistently run system updates across all devices.

2. Phishing attacks

Phishing attacks occur when an attacker sends fraudulent emails or text messages, typically to employees, that masquerade as trusted sources and entities. Once a user has interacted with an email, the hacker is able to gain access to sensitive information like passwords, payment information, and login credentials. Employee cybersecurity awareness and training is the first step to mitigating the risk of phishing attacks. By educating employees on the common attack methods that may be against them, they can more effectively maintain security.

3. Third-party vendors and supply chain attacks

An efficient supply chain can help cut down on delivery times and provide customers with a convenient shopping experience. However, security weaknesses in any third-party vendors’ networks within your supply chain can have a major impact on your organization as well. The Ponemon Institute found that 53% of organizations have experienced one or more data breaches caused by a third-party, putting into perspective the need for effective Third-Party Risk Management Programs (TPRM).

A TPRM program allows for a comprehensive overview of not only your organization’s cybersecurity posture but that of your third-party vendors as well. By gaining visibility across the entire supply chain, IT teams can proactively monitor and manage vendor risk, helping to halt attacks before they happen.

4. In-store IoT devices

The internet of things (IoT) refers to a system of computing devices that are embedded in everyday objects for improved connectivity and data transfer. Many retailers are utilizing these devices to provide services such as automated checkout, consumer behavior and traffic analysis, and merchandise tracking.

While IoT devices can help stores optimize and streamline operations, these interconnected devices open retailers up to new security vulnerabilities by expanding their digital attack surface and creating potential points of entry. The best way to mitigate risks associated with IoT devices is to stay up to date on available software patches, maintain employee awareness, and determine if the risk associated with particular devices outweighs the benefits.

5. Return and Payment Fraud

Threats of return and payment fraud are not a new concept for retailers, however, the ways in which these attacks are carried out are constantly evolving in complexity. Common instances to keep an eye out for include fake receipts, false delivery claims, hacked gift cards, and purchases made with stolen payment card information.

To combat fraud, organizations should continuously monitor the threat landscape to stay ahead of emerging threats. It’s also important to regularly ensure that your e-commerce site has not been deemed a “cardable” site by hackers, as this lets other cybercriminals know if a particular site is a good candidate for an attack.

How SecurityScorecard enables cybersecurity risk management in retail environments

The retail cybersecurity threat landscape is always changing, and staying aware of emerging threats is critical for avoiding the many risks that organizations face. SecurityScorecard can help retailers continuously improve their cybersecurity posture and secure their entire ecosystem.

SecurityScorecard helps IT teams manage their organization’s supply chain by enabling them to instantly discover the security posture of any third-party vendor or service provider. Comprehensive visibility into external systems allows for advanced detection and reduced response times. Additionally, the SecurityScorecard Hacker Chatter factor provides users with streams of communications from hackers so they can monitor carders’ discussions about potential hotspots for attacks.

Protecting customer data and brand reputation starts with a strong cybersecurity program, and SecurityScorecard’s platform can help retailers feel confident that their most important data is protected against risks and vulnerabilities.

Return to Blog
Join us in making the world a safer place.