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Recent events have highlighted the catastrophic effects that cyber-crime can have on businesses large and small alike; however research by KPMG and the Government’s Cyber Aware campaign suggests that the retail industry is not taking these threats seriously enough, with 1 in 7 not taking steps to protect their data.

Even though nearly three quarters (71 per cent) of retailers put the most value on their customers, and 58 per cent of consumers say they would be deterred from using a business hit by a cyber-attack, it appears there are still gaps in retailers’ cyber security strategies: 95 per cent of businesses consider cyber security to be very or quite important to their business, and yet 45 per cent do not have a formal cyber security strategy.

What’s clear is that it’s vital that all independent retailers implement effective cyber security and cyber-enabled fraud prevention, but how? Most independent retailers are run by small teams, without vast IT knowledge, and being more cyber conscious can seem impossible. The Government’s Cyber Aware campaign and the British Independent Retailers Association (bira) have teamed together to come up with top tips for independent retailers to protect their businesses, and in turn their customers, from cyber threats:

 

1. Install the latest software and app updates – they contain vital security upgrades which help protect your devices from viruses and hackers.

2. Use a strong, separate password for your business’s email accounts – hackers can use your email to take control of many of your accounts. Use three random words or numbers to create a strong password.

3. Always back-up your most important data, that way hackers cannot hold you to ransom over your business’s data.

4. Provide staff with access to simple, freely-available cyber security training. This training can educate your staff in protective tactics such as identifying phishing emails and identity fraud, such as a hacker posing as a CEO and asking for payment details.

5. Seek accreditation through the Government-endorsed ‘Cyber Essentials’ scheme – this is a Government-backed and industry-supported ‘standard’, which protects your business against the most common online threats.

 

A significant cyber-attack could put an independent retailer out of business. The greatest asset independents have over the bigger retailers is their connection with their customers. Lose this trust and you lose your business. It is vitally important to ensure your business is protected as well as it can be.

Sarah Arnesen is head of marketing at Bira. If you would like more information, please contact her on 0121 446 6688 / 07823416859 or email sarah.arnesen@bira.co.uk.

 

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