No longer if but when: It’s time to change the mindset about cyber security

With the increasing importance of cyber security in today’s digital enabled retail, the ARA has kickstarted Cyber Security Awareness Month with the first of five on-demand discussions, to shed light on the pressing cyber threats currently faced by the retail sector and provide insights into effective risk mitigation strategies. 

Jason Robertson, the ARA’s Director of Policy, Sustainability and Impact was joined in conversation by Shameela Gonzalez, a recognised authority in cyber security as the Financial Services Sector Lead for CyberCX. Together, they explored foundational insights, offering a blend of best practice and hands-on expertise to highlight the path forward for retailers navigating the cyber threat landscape. 

Watch the full interview and read more insights below:

While the digital landscape has offered retailers unmatched opportunities to reach wider audiences and streamline operations, it has, unfortunately, also exposed them to heightened cyber threats. In the past year, there’s been a noticeable spike in cyber-attacks targeting retailers.  

 As the ARA is fully committed to ensuring the safety of its members, this month aims to disseminate actionable insights on the topic. 

Cyber Threats: Retail vs. Financial Services 

Shameela began by underlining the convergence points of the two sectors. “Both industries deal with vast amounts of sensitive customer data daily. The onus of protection falls heavily on their shoulders,” she observed. However, she was quick to point out that while banks have long fortified their digital infrastructures under the scrutiny of regulation, the retail sector’s rapid digitisation offers fertile ground for an enhanced focus on security.

Understanding The Threat Landscape 

The discussion was comprehensive, spanning a spectrum of threats from ransomware, which has been making headlines, to the more insidious business email compromises that often fly under the radar. From Shameela’s perspective, “Ransomware is a showstopper, a big explosion that everyone notices. But business email compromises are like termites, slowly eroding away your foundation without immediate detection.” The devastating effects of such compromises can sometimes surpass even those of ransomware attacks in terms of financial losses. 

Proactive Over Reactive 

For Shameela, the most crucial shift businesses need to make is in their mindset. “It’s not about ‘if’, but ‘when’. And when the threat materialises, how prepared are you?” She emphasised the importance of a multifaceted strategy. While robust technology and cyber security infrastructure are paramount, the human element cannot be overlooked. 

The conversation referenced alarming statistics highlighting that a significant percentage of breaches result from human error. Regular training sessions, mock drills, and awareness programs for employees are as vital as having the latest technology solutions in place. 

Tapping Into Resources 

The discussion also addressed the resources available for retailers. Shameela strongly advocated for the continuous education of businesses. Platforms like the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) and CyberCX’s own website are locations of updated information, threat intelligence, and best practices. 

Closing Thoughts 

Jason wrapped up the enlightening session by reiterating ARA’s dedication to the cause. ” Be curious, if you’re online and you’re hearing or saying something that you think might impact your business, then dig a little bit deeper,” he stated. The month ahead promises to be filled with valuable content, expert insights, and actionable strategies for all ARA members. 




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