Cybersecurity in the Retail Industry: What to Know

Part 3 of 10 in our Complete Guide to Secure Remote Access in Retail.  Cybersecurity continues to be a major concern for many industries, but…

Graphic header that reads, "Cybersecurity Trends in 2020"Part 3 of 10 in our Complete Guide to Secure Remote Access in Retail

Cybersecurity continues to be a major concern for many industries, but none is more well-known than the retail industry. Every year there seem to be more and more cases of phishing scams and data breaches that affect retailers of every size. And while those continue, there are also other cybersecurity trends emerging as we get further into 2020.

As retailers rely more on the cloud and vendors to support their business, it’s crucial that they be aware of potential threats to protect retail information security. But it’s also important for their IT support to understand how rising threats happen to mitigate potential problems before they start. We’ve compiled this useful list of common cybersecurity trends to help retailers get a step ahead of cyberthreats and ultimately understand the benefits of remote access to support their businesses.

7 Cybersecurity Trends Retailers Need to Know

graphic of a person sitting at a desk doing research about cybersecurity trendsCyberattacks can happen from a variety of places. Attack surfaces are only growing with the rise in the internet of things (IoT) devices and expansive networks that cross the globe. Additionally, attackers are getting more adept at finding ways to infiltrate what many thought were secure systems. Make sure you’re ready to support your vendors and organization with information on these seven cybersecurity trends for 2020:

1. Retail Phishing Scams

Despite the common knowledge around email phishing scams, they continue to wreak havoc on every major industry and even on individuals. The 2019 FBI Internet Crime Report had phishing scams as the most common complaint with 23,775, followed by nonpayment and extortion scams. Those complaints resulted in an estimated $1.7 billion in losses.

Email phishing occurs when attackers sending legitimate-looking emails to customers posing as a retailer. People open the email, click on a link, and soon enough, malware can be installed, and information poached from the retailer and their customers.

They can also occur when emails are sent to employees within an organization or to their vendors. What seems like an innocent email could be the gateway to a massive problem. One of the most famous was the Target Phishing Breach in 2013, which was the result of a Target HVAC vendor opening a bad email, which installed a Trojan program on POS systems that recorded credit card data.

2. Machine Learning Presents Increasing Cyberthreats

Businesses, manufacturers, and the general public aren’t the only ones being swayed by AI and machine learning. Cyberattackers are using it to infiltrate networks in completely new ways, making artificial intelligence a serious and potential cybersecurity threat in the retail industry.

Using an intricate system of bots that are guided by algorithms, attackers can gather data like passwords and credit card information. Retailers who are the victim of such attacks can lose money, and even have to shut down completely to resolve botnet attacks.

As machine learning grows, and attackers become more adept at finding new ways to use it, retailers and their IT teams will need to protect themselves and their customers with proper remote access solutions.

3. Data Breaches Caused by Unauthorized Access

Data breaches involve the leak or loss of data and remain a common cybersecurity trend even in 2020. Cybercriminals use data breaches to access cloud networks to view, copy, and transmit data for malicious purposes.

In addition to the obvious violation of privacy created with data breaches, lost data is also in violation of the GDPR, which can result in hefty fines for organizations.

For retailers, it’s not just the stolen data, but the brand reputation that creates major problems. Even if a breach is the fault of a vendor, the retailer must bear the responsibility, which can erode consumer trust for years to come. Preventing future data breaches is important for protecting customers as well as brand identity.

4. Supply Chains are Vulnerable

Retailers rely on a vast supply chain network to keep business and inventory moving, but with the increased use of cloud computing, digital communication, and reliance on vendors, the supply chain has become a common attack surface.

Supply chains typically consist of a network of vendors that support different aspects of a business. They are particularly vulnerable because it’s common for vendors to implement less security than the retailer themselves. Even if a retailer is fully compliant and secure, one vulnerable access point from a vendor could lead to a massive problem that the retailer is ultimately responsible for.

One way to improve cybersecurity in the retail industry and avoid common POS problems and other vendor-related issues, is for is through proper service level agreements (SLAs) between retailers and their vendors. These agreements set terms for how each party will conduct themselves, who will respond to issues, troubleshoot, and clarify expectations and goals. SLAs can be very helpful in keeping both retailers and vendors accountable to prevent security issues and tension that can arise between stakeholders.

5. Ransomware Can Hinder Retail Activity

Ransomware can be very costly for retailers and remains a cybersecurity trend in 2020. Attackers search for vulnerabilities in retailer networks, particularly during peak buying times like Black Friday, and effectively put a pause on operations and/or purchases until a ransom is paid. POS systems are a common attack surface for attackers to infiltrate, particularly in the retail industry.

The result of a ransomware attack on retailers could be detrimental. Purchases could be shut down for unknown periods of time, which could cause a retailer to lose an enormous amount of revenue, depending on how quickly the issues are resolved. It can also cause customers to lose confidence in the retailer.

Part of the solutions lies in having proper remote access solutions and security controls in place to quickly identify where the problems lie or prevent them entirely.

6. Internet of Things (IoT) Devices Are Vulnerable

Internet of things (IoT) devices are those that are connected to the internet, making them a vulnerable attack surface. The number of IoT devices, and industrial IoT devices, continues to grow with retailers using a variety of devices from security cameras and POS hardware, to inventory tracking tools and push notifications to customers via apps.

One reason IoT devices continue to be a cybersecurity threat in retail is that they don’t typically have proper security controls built-in. When cyberattackers gain access to devices, they can control the functions of the device, depending on what the device does. This has the potential to harm retailers and their customers in a variety of ways, especially considering the number of devices being used in the retail environment, and by the public.

7. Cybersecurity Threats in Cloud Computing

One of the most common cybersecurity trends involves cloud computing. Businesses of all types are relying more and more on the cloud for storing, processing, and managing data. The benefit is that end-users don’t have to rely on a local server but can access a network of remote servers for data.

Benefits of real-time cloud access include:

  • Mobile commerce
  • Connected POS systems
  • Easy access to customer resource management (CRM) information
  • Inventory analysis
  • Streamlined processes

While there are many benefits to using the cloud, it may also create new attack surfaces for hackers to access, particularly for data breaches. Additionally, many organizations want to use legacy equipment that isn’t sufficiently secured, which can make the cloud even more vulnerable.

Avoiding this growing cybersecurity retail threat is going to continue to be a major focus for IT teams and doing so requires software and security that can handle cloud technology efficiently and effectively.

Mitigate Retail Threats in Cybersecurity with Remote Access Tools

Graphic with a computer in the middle supporting encryption, authentication, compliance, and consolidationEven though attacks can come from a variety of sources, there are ways to both prevent and effectively respond to cyberattacks. Here are a few factors to consider when choosing remote access tools:


High levels of encryption are important for protecting data so look for remote support that uses 256-bit AES encryption for optimal security.


Authentication is necessary across your network, but especially when using the cloud. Preventing malicious attackers from entering through sophisticated practices like multi-factor authentication can make a difference in who gets in, and who doesn’t.


Compliant remote control software is a necessity across the globe due to GDPR, CCPA, and PCI DSS standards. But it’s also important to remember that devices and vendors need to be compliant, too. With comprehensive remote access solutions, retailers can be sure that every layer of their business is compliant to avoid penalties.


It’s common for retailers and other organizations to use multiple devices and platforms to streamline their business, but having multiple tools to maintain security may be less effective, more expensive, and less secure. Choosing one solution that supports end-users through cross-platform connectivity is the most effective and safe.

Manage Access

Managing who accesses a retail network is crucial to ensuring security. With secure remote access, IT administrators can set controls that allow access to specific users and groups at a granular level.

Avoid Cybersecurity Threats with Total Remote Support

Cybersecurity issues will always be present, but with remote support like Impero Connect, you can feel confident about your security. Every aspect of a retail operation is covered from POS remote access to data storage and beyond–and it’s all in one solution which means more efficiency, productivity, and cost-savings. Try a free trial of Impero Connect today to see the difference!

Graphic recap going over the cybersecurity trends

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