Retailers in the UK might be slowly recovering from the fallout of the global pandemic. Sales figures are up 5.5% in recent months compared to pre-pandemic levels. But a barrage of cyber-attacks this year has left retailers incredibly vulnerable, putting the survival of their business in jeopardy.
Sixty percent of UK retailers have experienced a cyber attack in 2020. This is according to new research by the Ponemon Institute and commissioned by Keeper Security. Credential theft was the most common form of attack (60%). Credential theft is when cybercriminals try and get hold of an organisation’s or user’s passwords to access critical information. Worryingly, the frequency of these attacks increased but half of all retailers agree they have also become much more severe.
Cash-strapped retailers are struggling
The pandemic is taking its toll on the finances of many businesses. Cash-strapped retailers, in particular, are struggling to find the resource to adequately protect themselves against these cyber attacks. More than 2 in 5 (43%) admit to not having a sufficient budget for cyber defences. While 40% say they don’t know how they would go about protecting themselves against these threats in the first place.
“The ever-changing, challenging circumstances caused by the pandemic have understandably left retailers scrambling to adapt. But the severe consequences of cyber-attacks are too damaging to ignore,” explains Darren Guccione, CEO and Co-founder of Keeper.
“Retailers need to prioritise the importance of protecting themselves against cyber-attacks. The alternative is jeopardising the future of the business when one of these attacks is successful. Passwords are the most common avenue for cybercriminals to attack. Investing in an advanced and encrypted solution that safeguards user credentials can be an easy, highly-effective step for retailers. Retailers need to adequately protect themselves.”
The COVID-19 factor
COVID-19 has demonstrably had a negative impact on the online safety of retail business systems. However, the findings suggest they were already in trouble before being hit by the pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, 68% could not confidently say their IT security was highly effective. After 2020 COVID-19, this jumped significantly to 85% of organisations that no longer have faith in their IT security systems. Additionally, the time taken by UK retailers to respond to a cyber incident has increased dramatically by nearly two-thirds (65%).
“The retail sector is not alone. Industries worldwide have been ill-prepared to face the current barrage of cyber attacks, even before the pandemic. But the downwards spiral caused by COVID-19 means this has only worsened. The findings reveal that while this is not a new problem. The urgency to solve this is now greater than ever before,” concludes Guccione.
Enterprise Times: What this means for business
Increasingly, every aspect of our daily lives, working life is susceptible to cybercriminals. Whether it’s a login for video calls, collaboration software, social media accounts or Netflix. Passwords have become the easiest targets in cyberattacks. In fact, weak or stolen passwords are the number one cause of data breaches and cyber threats. The risks have been exacerbated this year as the pandemic forced the world to interact, work and socialise online.
It was recently revealed that the BBC receives over a quarter of a million malicious email attacks every day. The global pandemic has become a ripe opportunity for hackers’ phishing scams. Retailers must have security measures in place to automatically predict such cyber-attack threats. Organisations must warn people before they click or download an attachment.