Retail Industry — Next Big Target for Hackers?

Rapid adoption of digital transformation and incorporation of advanced digital payment technologies have propelled the growth of the entire retail industry. But at the same time, this digital growth invites cyber attackers to use this industry as their next big playground and to play with victims.  

India has witnessed a massive shift in the retail industry in the last decade. With the entrance of heavyweight players like ‘DMart’, ‘Jio Mart’ etc, the entire retail industry is poised to grow at an exponential rate. It’s not only due to making various products available to customers at a cheaper price comparatively, but also to make the buying process much more comfortable and hassle free. Moreover, various options of payment in digital mode have offered customers peace of mind.

Flawless integration and functioning of softwares with advanced process & technology have edged out competitors in this space. Experts believe that by 2030 India is expected to be the world’s third-largest consumer market.

Ever increasing adoption of digital transformation in the retail industry has made a paradigm shift possible and opened up abundant opportunities for players in this industry.

But at the same time, this industry has become a very lucrative market for cyber attackers to harness the advantages of existing loopholes. Since the cyber readiness of this industry can’t match the readiness level of industries like banking, finance, research, insurance, telecom etc., the retail industry has to focus more on the required solutions to prevent cyber attacks and intruders.

Last year the entire world saw a quantum leap in cyber attacks targeted to the retail industry riding on phishing, ransomware, advanced persistent threats, and supply chain attacks, while cybercriminals are finding new ways to exploit vulnerabilities in retail POS systems, IoT devices, endpoints, cloud and server environments.

How is the Retail Industry targeted?

Nationally leading retailers have their vast presence through thousands of stores, where millions footfalls are happening in a month. On a daily basis, these retailers process huge volumes of sensitive customer and financial data.

Retailers are being specifically targeted because they hold large stores of valuable and sensitive data, ranging from their names, addresses, phone numbers, driving licences and date of birth etc, and their data protection and cybersecurity systems are not as robust as they should be.

Retail players employ other companies and individuals to help support their Service, and perform functions on their behalf.

For example, retailers partner with payment service providers to enable Users to make purchases of the products on our Service. They also partner with third party service providers to update customers regarding order related information, such as updates via SMS and email, and to manage and track consumer complaints.

Now this entire system embraces several vendors, associates, third party service providers etc and makes it a soft area for hackers to target.

Tough compliance alone can’t stop the hackers.

The company might have advanced hybrid cloud infrastructure, use of specialist point of sale (POS) systems and web applications besides a vast supply chain, but all these also demand strong, effective & advanced security systems in place to safeguard the business. Retailers who are equipping themselves with the adoption of artificial intelligence and contactless payment technology to gain more edge, must be cautious of adverse impact, if adequate cyber security systems are not in place.

To safeguard its assets, retailers may employ a large in-house security team and third-party services providers to assist with vulnerability management and threat detection, but at the end of the day, a holistic view of your security posture is very essential, which can help retailers to identify and address security gaps as quickly as possible.


The bigger brand you are, the weaker you are to hackers. Controlling such vast data that comprises data of your customers, your vendors, associates, third party service providers, and supply chain information indeed demands not only a strong data compliance policy but also a strong data security infrastructure in place.

Continuous security validation and identification of possible and probable threats is inevitable to avoid any adverse impact.

So, in brief, greater threat readiness, reduced time to mitigate, improved collaboration, more effective reporting, greater value from pen testing and enhanced compliance are few areas that a retailer must include in their ‘to-ponder’ list to strengthen their security posture to neutralize cyber attacks.

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