What are Cyber Security Risks in Retail?

What are Cyber Security Risks in Retail?What are Cyber Security Risks in Retail?
Guest Author asked 1 year ago

1 Answers
Rebecca Kappel Staff answered 1 year ago
The retail market has been a favorite target for cyber-attacks for years. 

Why do attackers target the retail market?

Retail risk management is challenging. Retailers have unique security risks that make them especially vulnerable to attack. We’ll list some of them here:

  • Mixed Technology

A retail business will often have a mix of both old and new technologies. Old point-of-sale (POS) systems that lack point-to-point encryption (P2PE) at the front end, while cloud technology powers eCommerce and backend operations create a complex hybrid environment that is hard to manage.

  • Lack of Tech Knowledge

The retail industry mainly focuses on products, marketing or logistics, often neglecting cyber security, data privacy or information security concerns. Many retail organizations do not have more than the basic tech support needed to run their computers and rarely have a CISO or a platform to manage their cybersecurity risks (even though the stakes are so high!)

  • PII

Customer data is high in value to hackers because it contains information like credit card numbers, phone numbers, security questions, and the like. This data can be sold on the dark web for high profits.

  • High Staff Turnover

Fast employee turnaround results in a high rate of privileged account access to systems by previous employees and disgruntled workers. Also, many retail cyber-attacks are caused by internal errors where untrained personnel accidentally share confidential information. 

  • Unauthorized Access
    Each of the suppliers and contractors that need access to the system is a potential attack vector.

To protect themselves and their customers, retailers must be aware of these risks. They must also have a good security team that can anticipate and plan sound cyber risk management strategies to mitigate risks in retail markets and secure information systems. 

Most Common Cyber Attacks Against Retail Businesses:


In a phishing attempt, a threat actor sends fake email baits that appear to be from legitimate sources. If a victim clicks on the seemingly harmless link or attachment within the email, the attacker may install malware on their system or gain access to their servers.


Threat actors exploit known and novel vulnerabilities in retailer networks to install ransomware. A successful attack encrypts the systems and brings business transactions to a standstill until a ransom is paid. 


Payment card data and PII (personally identifiable information) are valuable commodities that hackers sell in the dark web market. To steal this data, hackers often use stolen credentials to sign in as legit employees or users.


Many retail businesses have adopted contactless transaction technologies that use IoT to process credit card transactions. These technologies have many advantages, but they also introduce new cyber risks.


E-commerce companies work with numerous suppliers and vendors to service different aspects of their operations. One vulnerable access point at one vendor can result in a supply chain attack, jeopardizing the retailer’s security and reputation. Retail risk assessments can help vet vendors for compliance with security policies.

Forward thinking companies in the world of retail are quickly coming to terms with the need to manage their cybersecurity risks to guarantee business continuity and their future cyber safety.

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