How Digital Transformation Can Open Doors for Retail Cybersecurity Attacks

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Retail cybersecurity threats

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  • Introduction
  • 1.Digital Transformation Projects Can Create Security Vulnerabilities
  • 2.Retail Cybersecurity Threats - Targets, Actors & Implications
  • 3.Cybersecurity Risks Have Gone Mobile
  • 4.How Can Retailers Secure Mobile Devices?
  • 5.Cybercriminals Are Checking Out POS
  • 6.Cyberattacks on the Cloud
  • 7.Loyalty Programs and Gift Cards
  • Accelerate Retail Digital Transformation with Interface

Retailers are Investing in Digital Transformation

retailers have either implemented digital transformation initiatives or are in the process of implementing digital transformation projects.

Primary focus of digital transformation

Customer Experience

Workforce Experience

Supply Chain Optimization

Types of security risks in retail

Digital Transformation Projects Can Create Security Vulnerabilities

Retailers’ data lakes are attractive targets, often combining detailed identity and demographic data with credit card information.


organizations sacrificed the security of mobile devices to facilitate their response to restrictions put in place due to the pandemic.


organizations said that they’d come under pressure to sacrifice the security of mobile devices for expediency.


percent of consumers are confident that retailers will be able to navigate the challenges of a data breach

Retailers are apparently more likely to pay off ransomware attackers. Of those that experienced such an attack, 51% paid the ransom directly (versus 37% of their peers in other industries).

Retail cybersecurity operations

Retailers surveyed tend to have smaller SOCs than their peers

report that their SOC consists of more than 50 FTEs (versus 20% of SOCs across industries)

say the cybersecurity team being understaffed for the size of their organization is a top challenge (versus 25% across other industries).

Four basic security policies are needed for today’s enterprise


Restrict access to data on a need-to-know basis.


Encrypt sensitive data sent across open public networks


Regularly test security systems and processes


Change all default, vendor-supplied processes

14% of organizations complied with all four requirements in 2018

Only 9% of organizations complied with all four requirements in 2021

Threat actors and risks in retail

Retail Cybersecurity Threats – Targets, Actors & Implications

Retail cybersecurity breach target
Retail cybersecurity threat actors
Data lost due to retail cybersecurity breaches
Data compromised due to retail cybersecurity breaches
Mobile security threats in retail

Cybersecurity Risks Have Gone Mobile

Retailers are betting big on enabling employees to work from anywhere. Convenience is now offered in the form of:

  • BYOPC (Bring Your Own PC)
  • BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)
  • CYOD (Choose Your Own Device)
  • COPE (Company Owned Personally Enabled)
  • COBO (Company Owned Business Only)
Compromised endpoints in retail


respondents said mobile devices are their company’s biggest IT security threat


respondents agreed that mobile device threats were growing faster than other threats.

Retail mobile security management

How Can Retailers Secure Mobile Devices?

  • Define a BYOD and WFM policy

  • Implement Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions

  • Implement Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) solutions

  • Implement Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solutions

  • Implement Mobile Threat Defense (MTD) and Unified Endpoint Management (UEM)

  • Provide adequate training to employees and IT teams

POS security threats

Cybercriminals Are Checking Out POS

Cybercriminals Are Checking Out POS

Retail chains face a variety of security challenges, from connected POS systems and devices to online ordering and delivery applications.

Self-checkout solutions in the Retail Environments setting could generate $430 billion to $520 billion in economic value in 2030.

Adoption of self-checkout use cases is expected to increase from a relatively low 15 to 35 percent of organized retail today to 80 to 90 percent in 2030.

In-store purchases are vulnerable to fraudulent purchases according to 49.3% of retailers. Multichannel purchases (bought online and picked up in-store) are vulnerable to fraudulent activities according to 18.8% of retailers.

Modus Operandi of a POS data breaches

POS applications are directly connected to credit card data, loyalty management applications, and inventory management systems. They are easily accessible to anyone and retailers struggle to manage the sheer number of in-store terminals, self-service kiosks, mobile payment devices, and phone-based payments directly from customers.


attacks on POS environments are completed through remote access.

Scamsters rely on “shimming” and man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks to impersonate EMV credit cards at the POS.

In 2019, an employee clicked on a malicious link in a phishing email and downloaded a Remote Access Trojan. The attackers used the Trojan to move laterally into the merchant’s PoS environment where they deployed a RAM memory scraper for harvesting payment card data.

Data breaches are expensive


is retail industry’s average cost of a data breach

POS security best practices

How Can Retailers Secure POS?

  • Encrypt all POS data end-to-end
  • Implement EMV and NFC technologies
  • Whitelist applications to run on a POS system

  • Keep your POS software up-to-date

  • Segment the POS network

  • Address PCI-DSS compliance gaps proactively

  • Segment the POS network

  • Physically secure POS devices including mobile POS devices

  • Watch out for unusual transactions

  • Integrate security camera with POS transactions

cloud cybersecurity threats

Cyberattacks on the Cloud

50% of retailers surveyed have a cloud-first policy for new applications compared to 38% of organizations across other verticals.

Cloud misconfiguration accounted for 15% of the breaches and costs the company $4.14 million on average.

Malware targeting Linux environments rose dramatically in 2021—a surge possibly correlated to more organizations moving into cloud-based environments, many of which rely on Linux for their operations.

Cloud Security Maturity
High cost of cloud security breaches

How Can Retailers Secure the Cloud?

  • Adopt a zero trust security model to help prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data

  • Protect sensitive data in cloud environments using policy and encryption

  • Invest in security orchestration and automation of response (SOAR) and extended detection and response (XDR) to help improve detection and response times

  • Understand the scope of cloud service provider security responsibilities

  • Organize ongoing security awareness training for all employees

Security threats from loyalty programs and gift cards

Loyalty Programs and Gift Cards


consumers shop exclusively with retailers to take advantage of loyalty programs.

$140 billion

Estimated value of loyalty points in the US

$100 billion

Estimated value of rewards that go unclaimed

$259B by 2026.

The gift card market in the US will increase from US$172 billion in 2021 to reach US$259 billion by 2026


number of gift card cyberattacks when compared to other targets

Impact of Loyalty and Gift Card Fraud

01 Estimated value of rewards fraudulently redeemed each year: $1 billion

02 The FTC estimates an 88% increase in gift card scams in 2021 based on 64,000 consumer complaints that amount to a collective loss of $233 million.

03 Any data breach involving loyalty management applications could potentially attract regulatory fines under the provisions of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and GDPR

Loyalty account takeover fraud is a ticking timebomb. According to Forter, “As fraudsters accrue more account data during this period, merchants should remain vigilant. Fraudsters are breaching accounts and stealing personal data, using this time to “age” the accounts they steal. They are taking the time to build the account’s reputation, making it more difficult for rules-based systems or manual review teams to detect a hacked account from a legitimate one.

How Can Retailers Minimize Loyalty and Gift Card Frauds?

Implement a robust data analytics system to flag suspicious transactions.

Enforce password policies and encourage multifactor authentication.

Limit the personal data needed to enroll in the rewards program.

Regulate access to loyalty management systems and implement a zero trust security framework.

Accelerate Retail Digital Transformation with Interface

Interface’s managed network services can help retail chains proactively address cybersecurity threats and accelerate digital transformation. Interface handles design, implementation, and maintenance for all services. With Interface, retail chains can improve security, eliminate operational complexity and focus on innovation.

Managed network services for retail chains

Retail Network-Technology-in-a-Box

PCI-compliant LAN, WAN, Firewall, SD-WAN, and VoIP in one standardized package

Managed SD-WAN for retail chains

Turnkey network-as-a-service to deliver network security and optimal performance

Managed SASE for retail chains

Unified ZTNA, FWaaS, SWG & SD-WAN solution

PCI compliance management for retail chains

Interface simplifies PCI compliance for businesses

Schedule a free consultation

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