Retail Industry Cybersecurity

Data breaches happen every day. High-profile cyberattacks against the retail industry have eroded consumer confidence in some of the most trusted retail brands. Every level of retail data is at risk.

Point-of-sale exploits, card skimmers, web application server hacks, and other data breaches have become more sophisticated. The complexity of modern threats demands an IT security partner with a real-world record of risk mitigation. Contextual Security offers superior retail cybersecurity consulting and industry leading PCI DSS Level 1 & Level 2 Audits.

Retail Cybersecurity Consulting

Our experts identify vulnerabilities and help you protect your business. We have broad experience safeguarding all kinds of retail assets. Our retail cybersecurity consulting services include:

  • Internal and external penetration testing
  • Gap analysis
  • Web assessment
  • Firewall circumvention testing
  • Social engineering trials
  • Wireless network integrity (packet sniffing, man-in-the-middle attacks, etc.)
  • Security architecture review
  • Secure network design and testing
  • Incident response

Our consulting services are product and vendor agnostic. This means that we don’t have relationships with or resell hardware, software, or services for any other vendors so you can rest assured that you’re getting an independent and unbiased assessment of your organization.

Meeting Retail’s Payment Card Industry (PCI) Standards

Contextual Security is a Qualified Security Assessor Company (QSAC) approved by the PCI Security Standards Council, which means we test your security to the highest industry standards and certify your compliance. Then, we can help maintain your cybersecurity program to ensure that you always have maximum protection.

Bottom-Line Benefits to Retailers

Losing just one credit card record costs retailers an average of $172.* Investing in qualified cybersecurity support manages the financial risk of an attack.

Intangible assets such as brand association are also protected. Retailers now compete for cybersecurity dominance as a factor in consumer perception. Avoiding the headlines, and earning your PCI compliance certification, publicly reflects your commitment to your customers.

Finally, the retail environment provides enticing opportunities for talented security professionals. It can be difficult to keep a data security team fully staffed. Contextual Security ensures that retailers always experts right where they need them so they have continuous, independent oversight.

*2016 Cost of Data Breach Study: Global Analysis, Ponemon Institute, June 2016

Biggest Benefits Cyber Treats in the Retail Industry 

Retailers collect sensitive customer information during every transaction. Your business also has its own sensitive data, including sales, strategic information, inventory, employee data and more. Learning about the biggest security threats for the retail industry will help you form a strategy that will protect your business from becoming vulnerable to attack.

Lack of Awareness

Unaware employees could inadvertently put your cybersecurity at risk. An employee might leave their handheld device on a shelf while helping a customer. They might leave their monitor open to view. The wrong person could take advantage of these opportunities with their own smartphone and scanning software, allowing them to download unprotected data.

Poor Data Hygiene

Perhaps your employees don’t update their passwords. Maybe they share them. Poor data hygiene puts your entire database of customer information at risk.

Cyber Treats i Scammers Posing as Customers

Imagine a dissatisfied customer who emails your business for help. They include a file that supposedly contains their receipt. Your employee opens it, and it’s actually malicious software. This threat is growing in scope.

Point-of-Sale Breaches

Point-of-sale (PoS) breaches are another common problem that you will deal with as a retailer. One reason why they are high-risk for attacks is their lack of point-to-point encryption. Implementing an end-point protection plan could help.

Point-of-sale terminals may be using old operating systems that are no longer supported by current security coverage. Scammers can also insert skimmers into point-of-sale kiosks. This is a common problem at gas stations and self-checkout kiosks.

Distributed Denial of Service Attacks

Distributed denial of service, or DDoS attacks, is another risk. They are relevant if your business takes advantage of the Internet of Things. Consider your cloud security and the infrastructure that supports it.


Ransomware is not a new threat. The number of ransomware attacks is surging among retail establishments. Automated data backups mitigate your risk.

Compliance Concerns for the Retail Sector

The PCI-DSS standard is often overlooked or skipped over. This standard is for credit card payments. You need to dedicate time to staying on top of it.

All publicly traded retailers must comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX). This relates to transparent accounting practices. HIPAA is also another area of concern, especially for retail pharmacies.

Cyber Treats i Security Solutions for Cyber Attacks in the Retail Industry

Retailers can use proven security solutions in order to protect themselves against cyber attacks.

  • Educate and train team members on how to lower risks from ransomware and technology scans.
  • Invest in cybersecurity services from companies like Contextual Security.
  • Streamline or consolidate IT security services.
  • Participate in the National Retail Federation, which informs members of new and ongoing cyber threats.