Why Small Retail Businesses Should Focus on Cybersecurity During the Holiday Season
With the holiday season upon us, retail businesses are doing their best to prepare for the mad rush of online shoppers. A retailer’s holiday checklist may include hiring seasonal employees, establishing a holiday customer service plan, and ensuring the necessary inventory is stocked. But one thing small businesses may not consider is the threat of cyber attacks.
Retail is one of the most targeted industries for cyber criminals, given the amount of personal information provided in an online transaction. In recent years, we’ve even seen some of the top U.S. retailers be victims of data breaches caused by cyber attacks. However, don’t be fooled, small businesses aren’t immune to these threats. In fact, 43 percent of cyber attacks target small businesses, and only 14 percent of these businesses are prepared to defend themselves.
As the holiday season approaches, it’s more important than ever for small business retailers to protect their customers from cyber threats. Here are a few tips to get started.
Install Advanced Network Security Protection
By 2020, there will be roughly 200 billion connected devices that are hacked each year, with an average small business loss of $200,000, according to some estimates. One of the most effective ways small businesses can protect against major loss due to a cyber attack is to invest in an advanced network security appliance and firewall solution.
This solution can identify and block threats — including intrusion, malware, ransomware, phishing, malicious files and more — from getting through to a company's network. With automatic updates and dashboard reporting, small businesses can keep an eye on their network activity at all times, providing peace of mind during the holiday shopping season.
Check for Vulnerabilities With Internet-Connected Devices
Retailers are increasingly using internet-connected devices to help with tasks such as keeping track of inventory and foot traffic analysis. These hybrid security and operational technologies help traditional brick-and-mortar businesses compete with online retailers by increasing business efficiencies, enabling owners to focus on the overall customer experience. However, putting all of these devices on the network can present a possible point of entry for cyber criminals to attack.
While internet-connected devices and services can help retailers ensure their processes are running as efficiently as possible, it also puts them at risk unless they take the proper precautions. As we approach Black Friday and Cyber Monday, many cyber criminals are planning to target retailers through their networks. In order to reduce the risk of a cyber attack, small businesses need to be mindful of the devices they choose to place on the network and address security concerns from the start. Consider establishing a security protocol to ensure preventative measures are in place in case of a threat.
Be Cautious With Third-Party Vendors
In today’s economy, retailers are shifting toward e-commerce sites to better compete with industry giants. However, this often means that small businesses need to work with multiple third-party vendors in order to keep their system functional. While third-party vendors play a critical role in moving businesses forward, they can also open the door to cyber attacks. The 2017 cyber attack on Amazon.com is a great example. Skilled cybercriminals stole tens of thousands of dollars from Amazon users, sellers and advertisers by entering the system through third-party vendors.
Third-party attacks are a growing concern that can be difficult to defend against and have the ability to destroy businesses. To protect your company’s assets against cyber attacks, it's important to keep track of all activities your third-party vendors take on. With the proper network protection system in place, retailers are able to gain access to comprehensive reporting as well as receive automatic updates in the case of a threat.
This holiday season, retailers must create a streamlined cybersecurity strategy to ensure they're equipped with the right tools to anticipate and protect against a potential cyber attack. With the right solutions and plan in place, small businesses can have peace of mind that their business and customers are safe from attacks throughout the holiday season.
Brad Konkle is director of integrated solutions at STANLEY Security, the second largest electronic security company and one of the largest system integrators in the United States. STANLEY Security is a part of Stanley Black & Decker.
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