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UK retail industry gets tough on cyber crime

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UK retail industry gets tough on cyber crime

March 2017

The UK’s retail industry is “stepping up the fight” against the growing threat cyber crime poses to the country’s businesses and online shoppers.

With one in every four pounds now spent online, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has published a cyber security toolkit to give British retail businesses practical guidance on managing cyber threats and protecting their customers.

As the online retail market has grown, so too has cyber crime. Online sales are growing by around 10 to 15 per cent each year and this growth is accompanied by a parallel rise of “ever more elaborate” forms of online crime.

According to BRC research, more than half (53 per cent) of reported fraud in the retail industry is done online, representing a total direct cost to the industry of about £100 million.

The BRC’s toolkit, described as the first of its kind, is designed to give detailed information they need to put “appropriate preventative and response measures” in place to reduce their cyber vulnerability.

The kinds of cyber crime retailers are vulnerable to is getting more and more sophisticated. Today, some of the more elaborate forms of cyber-related crime affecting the retail industry include:

Doxing - getting personal information about someone (like name, address and phone number) using publicly available sources.
Whaling - where fraudsters send employees emails purporting to come from their colleagues or management, duping them into sending them money or releasing sensitive information.
Spoofing - the practice of persuading people to disclose confidential information by forging emails and websites to look as though they are from legitimate sources.

“The UK is one of the leading e-commerce markets in the world. The BRC Cyber Security Toolkit is designed to equip British retailers with the know-how, guidance and practical support that will help the industry stay ahead of the ever evolving threats posed by cyber-related criminality,” said Ugo Rosemont, policy adviser on crime and security at the BRC.

“All parts of the retail industry have a large and growing stake in keeping customers safe and secure, and the industry is committed to ensuring the strongest possible measures are in place – all the way through from prevention to incident response.”

The BRC Cyber Security Toolkit was launched in London this week by the BRC and Home Office minister Sarah Newton MP. It is designed to help retailers:

Establish the importance of cyber security as a board-level issue.
Conduct a cyber security risk assessment of their business.
Share retail information safely.
Protect their customers’ data.
Create an incident response plan.
Keep pace with evolving cyber risks.
Prepare and respond to attacks.
Recover from them and review them.

Dr Ian Levy, technical director at the recently-launched National Cyber Security Centre, said the UK’s retail sector is “vital” to the country’s economic wellbeing.

“Both the sector and its supply chain are increasingly reliant on online safety and security,” Dr Levy said.

“The NCSC is delighted to be working with the BRC in finding innovative ways to make the UK a safe place for citizens, e-commerce, small businesses and large chains to do retail business online.

“We are committed to giving individuals and businesses of all sizes confidence to deliver success in our increasingly digitalised economy, and were pleased to support the development of this toolkit.”

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