Ransomware looms large over the holiday shopping season

8th December 2021


The threat of ransomware looms large over the retail industry as the holiday shopping season descends on countries around the world.

Recent studies show that around 60% of the sector is at high risk of ransomware attacks due to poor cybersecurity practices that include slow vulnerability patching.

Supplanting this research are records on last year’s security trends during the same period; one that witnessed a significant increase in ransomware attacks.

During the Black Friday weekend, for instance, the number of cyber breaches in the retail industry increased substantially, with many experts expecting ransomware attacks to set a new record.

What’s more, there was a substantial increase in cyber breaches at the same time last year, with the retail industry being the most hit in 2020—over 44% of organisations were affected by ransomware attacks.

This year, we can expect a similar trend to unfold.

Why is ransomware such a serious threat?

Ransomware attacks have emerged over the past few years as one of the leading causes of cyber breaches for a number of reasons.

To begin with, poor cybersecurity practices can compromise the security of your data, making it easy for cybercriminals to access enterprise systems

When cybercriminals get a hold of this data, it’s generally very difficult to regain access to it thereafter unless you comply with certain requirements, which are often costly and damaging to your reputation.

What we’re seeing is that when data is stolen and held hostage, most companies are forced to pay a ransom in the absence of effective security countermeasures.

This is a problem that has become even more commonplace with most retail companies enforcing remote work and the boom of eCommerce during the pandemic.

The issue is compounded by the fact that employees often do not receive adequate cybersecurity awareness training, making them vulnerable to cyberattacks that lead to ransomware through targeted phishing attacks.

Most retail employees also struggle to identify a phishing link when it is sent via email, making them vulnerable to cyberattacks.

What can the retail industry do to mitigate cyberattacks?

With the holiday season upon us, retailers should take steps to secure their cybersecurity systems to prevent ransomware attacks. In this context, employee training can help businesses raise awareness on these issues and ensure customer data and enterprise resources are secure.

Retailers should also prioritise improving their system monitoring mechanisms to get a better understanding of their network and mitigate cyberattacks during a potentially risky holiday shopping season.