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Volume 32, Issue 3

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Monday, 10 November 2014 17:42

Cybersecurity a Growing Concern for Retailers and Consumers

Written by  Vicki Thomas

Written by: Vicki Thomas

The White House recently revealed that in October it suffered a technology security breach. While details are thin on this actual breach, what this recent news has done is brought the topic of Internet and technology security to the forefront again.


This is why the news headlines highlighting and reminding us of the breaches at eBay, Apple, Neiman Marcus, Target, Home Depot, and other retailers send a chill up the spines of many CEOs and executives. Any time there is doubt about the security of our personal information, including credit card data, banking information, and home address - people get nervous. Stocks plummet and consumers begin to question how safe it really is to send their credit card number out over the Internet.

The last thing that retailers want at this time of the year is uncertainty. But when consumers read for example about the accounts of 76 million households and 7 million small businesses that were compromised in a cyberattack at JPMorgan Chase - it’s hard to convince shoppers that there is no cause for concern.

So what are we supposed to do? As both consumers and business continuity professionals, this is a challenging question to answer. Many of you are business owners, advisors to retailers, banks, and other businesses - chances are high you’re attending more meetings than normal that focus on cyber-security, internal security, password strengthening, questions about Cloud security, and what to do in the event of a cyberattack.

From the consumer point of view: honesty is the best policy. There is nothing worse than finding out months after it happened that a store you regularly shop in was a victim of cyberattack.

But from the retailers point of view: the message has to be managed perfectly. The retailer doesn’t and can’t be public with the news of a cyberattack until all of the facts are known. This is where business continuity professionals are vital. The BC/DR plan must address this very real threat: including a communications plan, a social media plan, a consumer outreach plan, and a solid plan for determining how and why the breach occurred.

Think about how you would have reacted if you shopped at or worked with: