The retail industry has the dubious honor of being one of the most exposed industries in the world. Hackers are constantly targeting online shopping portals, social media websites, and other digital platforms to steal your customers’ data and boost their businesses.

As a result, many retailers have implemented security measures that are designed to protect their customers from cyber-attacks. To stay competitive in the fast-paced world of e-commerce, many companies have begun investing in data security and developing robust security processes to reduce risk and protect their brand.

Even with these precautions, you may still be at risk from hackers who are looking to gain access to your customer information or carry out fraud through computer usage at the point of sale (POS) terminals within your stores. This article covers some of the top risks that come along with operating a retail business and also some retail security compliances that one should look into when opening a retail store.

Your data is at risk from cyber-criminals

Cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated and increasingly daring in their attempts to take control of unsecured computers and networks. With the advent of increasingly sophisticated malware, it’s easier for cyber-criminals to gain unauthorized access to computers and networks that use computers’ built-in security mechanisms. Some of the most common types of malware that attack computer networks today are password and keystroke loggers, keystroke ciphers, serial number scanners, and backdoors. Fortunately, most computer networks have built-in mechanisms to detect and remove such threats. 

Your employees are targets

Employees are the first ones to be targeted because they are the ones handling confidential data such as credit card information. Coupled with the fact that employees often work on shared computers, mobile devices, and the Internet, it’s easy for cyber-criminals to find a way in. Unfortunately, employees may not take the necessary precautions to keep themselves and their information safe.

As with any form of contact work, it’s important to practice good digital hygiene and use modern tools such as screen locks, antivirus programs, and firewalls. If a breach does occur, you’d want your employees to be able to trace the attack back to its source. Unfortunately, when it comes to cyber-security, many companies still haven’t implemented clear policies and standards in this area. Reporting a breach to the company will depend on what the employee discovered.

Shoppers’ data is at risk

Retailers and other organizations are collecting the personal information of shoppers. Alternatively, they may not care and be happy to let their data be collected and stored. Using a shopper's Social Security number, an attacker can easily open a fraudulent bank account or file a tax return in the shopper's name. Attackers may try to trick shoppers into revealing their sensitive information by posing as law enforcement, government, or store clerk. 

Your businesses accept online payments

Many retailers rely on the internet to run their businesses. However, hackers may be looking to steal sensitive information from retailers whose websites accept payments over the internet. These may include financial institutions that handle online banking, credit card payments, and retailers that accept online payments. There are a few cyber-security risks associated with accepting online payments: If your business fails to properly secure its connection to the web, potential hackers can still access your information if your computer is “torch-detected”. 

A malicious hacker can access important data like your credit card number and login credentials if your computer is left unsecured. It's a basic cyber-security precaution to keep your computer up-to-date.

There are other risks for small retailers

Any type of business faces risks from time to time. However, the more advanced your business is, the greater the potential threats. For companies providing cyber-security, there may be an advanced cyber-security risk if an insurance company hacks into their system. Hackers can access sensitive data such as customer's names, addresses, contact information, payment information, and claims history. If you provide financial services, there may be a risk of security issues if an unauthorized person accesses your computer. This could include modification or deletion of transaction records, loss of access to funds, or even fraud.


Cyber-security risks in the retail industry are risky because of the level of exposure and fraud potential. Cyber-attacks can have serious consequences for businesses of any size, even those that don't take basic precautions. Retailers need to protect their data and those responsible for implementing these measures should be aware of the risks.