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UK retailers directing more spend on cybersecurity

Retailers spent 17% more on cybersecurity in 2018 than the year before, according to new British Retail Consortium (BRC) research released today (21 March).

Some £162 million was directed towards this form of protection compared to £139 million one year before, as nearly 80% of the retailers surveyed for the annual Retail Crime Survey said they had seen an increase in the number of cyberattacks. 

The survey covers the period from 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018 and sought the views of those in the industry who collectively control 11,000 stores and £103 billion of turnover – deemed to be the equivalent to just under one-third of the retail market.

The BRC said this year’s sample group has a slightly higher proportion of online retailers, reflecting the wider industry trends of growth in digital commerce.

According to the report, phishing is viewed by virtually all respondents as a high risk type, as is data theft. Conversely, spoofing and doxing are seen as low risk types of cybercrime.

Clare Gardiner, director of engagement at the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), said: “The NCSC is committed to helping to improve the UK’s cyber security, which is why we have worked in partnership with the BRC to produce the BRC Cyber Security Toolkit.

“Cyberattacks can have a huge impact, but to help potential victims pro-actively defend themselves we have published a range of easy-to-implement guidance on our website.”

She added: “Organisations can also share threat intelligence in a confidential way through the NCSC’s online Cyber Information Sharing Partnership, which increases awareness to dangers and reduces the impact on UK businesses.”

The crime report found that violence remains the key issue for retailers this year, with an average of 115 retail employees attacked every day.

The combined cost of spending on crime prevention and losses from crime to the industry is placed at £1.9 billion for the reported period. Over £700 million was lost to customer theft alone, a rise of 31% on the previous year.

And following a fall last year there has been a 5% growth in the cost of fraud to retailers. The report argued that this represented a limited change when, across the economy as a whole, fraud is growing. It added that this underlines the volume of investment retailers are placing on anti-fraud systems and checks.

The BRC said fraud protection is an area it will continue to work on, for example as part of its review of how well police deal with online fraud and through its position on the Joint Fraud Taskforce.

Helen Dickinson, CEO of the BRC, commented: “The spiralling cost of retail crime – both in losses and the cost of prevention – are a huge burden to a retail sector that is already weighed down by the twin challenges of skyrocketing business costs and Brexit uncertainty.

“We hope this report will act as a catalyst for police and crime commissioners around the country to take action. Retail crime should be explicitly addressed by Police and Crime Plans.”