As consumers flood stores nationwide, it’s important for retailers to examine their approach to cybersecurity

If you operate a small business that belongs to the retail industry...well, we’re quite surprised you even have the free time to read this blog amid the holiday rush, but we’re glad you did!

Retail companies face an enormous surge in business around the holiday shopping season. And, since your retail company likely relies on technology to handle the logistics of your business, this is a crucial time to have a robust cybersecurity plan in place.

 

Cybersecurity and the retail industry

Retailers around the country lean on their IT networks for a variety of purposes, from managing inventory and completing financial transactions to collecting and storing information about their employees for hiring and payroll purposes.

When cybercriminals look at that, they don’t just see information — they see dollar signs. This is valuable information that hackers crave and can profit from on the black market. This is why the retail industry is one of the most targeted industries.

Some of the nation’s largest retailers — from Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue to Poshmark — have been victims of cyber breaches in the past, resulting in compromised data, tarnished reputations and major financial hits.

Small retailers are just as susceptible to cyber breaches as the country’s leading names. Small businesses are targeted at a much more frequent rate than large corporations.

This means that cybersecurity must be a year-round concern for retail businesses. However, the influx of shoppers around the holidays can provide a stark reminder of how high the stakes are.

 

Protecting your small retail business

Whether specializing in e-commerce or managing a brick-and-mortar shop, you’re going to be a target for cybercriminals. The following are some steps you can take, and considerations you can make, to provide robust protection for your retail business.

  • Develop strong network security. This isn’t unique to the retail industry — all types of businesses should be utilizing firewalls, anti-virus and other measures to build a strong network. It’s important to keep all security measures updated and patched, as well.
  • Focus on the devices that are connected to your network. These mobile devices (i.e. tablets, phones, etc.) can represent soft spots in your cybersecurity wall. Many retailers use internet-connected devices to execute work. These must be protected just as tightly as your network.
  • Make sure your employees know about potential threats. Cyber scams of today can be believable and tough to spot. Perhaps a hacker, posing as an unsatisfied customer, will email the store to complain and ask you to download a corrupted file. Or, maybe a hacker emails you a phishing scam acting as one of your trusted vendors. Make sure employees know what to look for and how to be careful when it comes to online threats.
  • Be careful of what vendors you use. Your business can have Fort Knox-level cybersecurity, but if it entrusts its information with a vendor that isn’t so diligent with cybersecurity, then the personal information of your clients can still be in jeopardy.

If you’re in the retail business, consider yourself a target — and the stakes are high. Protect your business with a comprehensive approach to cybersecurity.