The Centripetal Blog

Retail’s Cyber Security Challenges During the Holiday Season

Posted by Byron Rashed on November 25, 2020

Retail is one of the most vulnerable and targeted industries when it comes to cyber attacks, with half of U.S. retailers experiencing a data breach in 2019, up 19% from the year before.

Marking the start of the busy holiday shopping period, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the most important days for retailers worldwide, with the average adult shopper planning to spend $400 on Black Friday sales. Unfortunately, the holiday season provides the perfect opportunity for cyber criminals to steal sensitive data as IT teams are focused on the influx of traffic.

Shopping choices look set to shift in 2020, with the global pandemic putting a stop to the usual Black Friday in-store shopping rush and increasing the number of customers shopping online. Google’s US shopper survey found that 75% of consumers plan to buy online more than they did last year, with many retailers already seeing a surge in online purchases since local COVID-19 lockdowns were put in place.

Many retailers adopt new technologies and platforms to avoid system downtime and provide a smoother customer experience during online sales peaks, which can leave them vulnerable to attacks leading to sensitive data breaches. These threats can come in the form of phishing campaigns, fraudulent sites designed to divert web traffic, or distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks in which hackers bombard servers with requests until they slow down or crash completely. In 2019, Kaspersky research identified a number of phishing scams claiming to be seasonal discounts from brands that were almost indistinguishable from the real thing.

Cyber attacks can damage retailers in many more ways than just the loss of sales over the holiday season. There is potential for legal sanctions and considerable non-compliance fines when businesses have not met regulations such as the GDPR, CCPA, or the PCI Standard, as well as irreversible reputational damage and the potential loss of loyal customers. Damage to the brand is especially detrimental in the retail sector, where competition is fierce and switching providers is so easy.

When hackers around the world are constantly evolving their techniques to hit retailers of all sizes from point of sale to online payment, encryption is simply not enough. Malicious actors are smart, aware of any opportunities or weak links in the e-commerce chain. To ensure that sales volumes grow during the festive shopping period, retailers have to adopt a multi-layered approach to security, increasing their cyber awareness and identifying potential threats quickly, without diverting attention from business operations.

Centripetal’s comprehensive cyber threat intelligence solution, CleanINTERNET, acts as an extension of your security team, easing the burden on your staff and alleviating the security skills gap. CleanINTERNET aggregates and leverages over 3,500 threat intelligence feeds from over 70 sources, delivering the most relevant and actionable findings to your business and allowing your team to focus on mission-critical business operations during the busy festive season.

To find out more about increasing your cyber security posture and mitigating cyber threats this holiday season, speak to one of the Centripetal team.

As many offices remain closed, organizations are looking at how they can make long-term remote working easier. Our next blog explores how CleanINTERNET supports and protects the new remote workforce.

Tags: Centripetal, Black Friday, Retail