The Impact Of Industry-specific Cyber Threats On Insurance Policy Terms – The retail industry is a prime target for cybercriminals due to the wide reach of attacks and increasing sophistication in securing sensitive data. The pandemic has expanded the industry’s attack surface as online shopping and electronic transactions have forced companies to comply with the complex regulatory requirements of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and the PCI Software Security Framework (SSF).
Offensive’s team of security experts compiled retail security attack trees and other resources to help equip retail organizations with a comprehensive view of the ever-evolving threat landscape. This article provides more details on the most impactful security risks mapped in our retail attack tree.
The Impact Of Industry-specific Cyber Threats On Insurance Policy Terms
• Insider threats • Unsecured IoT devices • Disruption of business operations • Information theft • Theft of retail, capital or financial products
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Preventing attacks starts with understanding your environment. This includes identifying all your assets (physical, digital, and technical) and any vulnerabilities they may have. Often, threats to the retail sector focus on identity theft and credit card fraud. Threat actors have evolved their techniques, so that not only do retail cyberattacks impact customer data, but DDoS attacks, ransomware/malware/spyware, and other types of attacks can negatively impact daily business operations. For example, website outages and supply chain disruptions can disrupt deliveries, leaving brick-and-mortar and online retailers without goods to sell.
Retail personnel are valuable attack targets because of their access to sensitive data and trust within the organization. Employees are generally encouraged to help, an ideal trait for social engineers who want to trick them. Personnel can easily, but inadvertently, set in motion a chain of events that leads to a breach, simply by doing their job. Threat actors targeting retail often attempt to impersonate managers or turn employees into insider threats.
Impersonation can be done through license plate theft, social engineering, or impersonation. Threat actors often impersonate managers or, for retail organizations with multiple locations, impersonate employees visiting other locations. In addition to impersonation, we have seen an increase in threat actors targeting personnel to turn them into insider threats using extortion, impersonation, or through social engineering techniques such as spear phishing and social media intelligence (SOCMINT). A lack of training to recognize modern social engineering has cost retail organizations significantly.
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Criminals also attempt to infiltrate retail organizations through other physical assets such as suppliers, contractors and third-party vendors. Third-party vendors are often used to facilitate payment transactions, and additional precautions, such as two-factor authentication, are rarely implemented because retailers want the checkout process to run as smoothly as possible. This has created a fertile environment for cybercriminals looking to exploit.
Apart from that, suppliers also have the same risks. Manufacturers outside the US can easily target USB to install ransomware or other malware on all of a retail organization’s systems. Attackers can also pose as vendors in social engineering attacks, taking advantage of employees’ good nature to gain access to restricted systems or data. Ransomware can also spread through this attack vector, holding valuable data hostage or even destroying it.
The most common hardware endpoints in any enterprise environment are individual employee devices. The proliferation of work-from-home practices only increases this vulnerable attack vector as many employees combine personal and professional activities on devices, providing more opportunities for exploitation. Even under ideal conditions, this can create unique challenges in ensuring the security of business resources and the integrity and confidentiality of data.
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One technique, drive download, can install malware on a device without the user’s knowledge or consent. Just visiting the wrong link can be enough to harm a company. This tactic is often used to gain access to networks, email, servers, and other devices where attackers are trying to retrieve data from the corporate network. A modern example is when Target was compromised by phishing emails after a third-party vendor’s device was hacked.
Attackers can even target an organization’s HVAC systems to perform network scanning, remote access, or data collection. This is largely due to the widespread use of IoT devices, which are difficult to update or upgrade, making them vulnerable to attacks.
Threat actors can also configure wireless access points with billing portals. This is especially important because many employees work remotely and use public Wi-Fi. Additionally, Man in the Middle (MITM) attacks, in which an attacker covertly inserts himself into communications between two parties, can be carried out anywhere and at any time over public Wi-Fi.
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Facilities are often spread across multiple locations and provide multiple access points. This provides an opportunity to test and replicate attacks across environments and may create opportunities for device theft or other access methods when devices are sent for repair and replacement. Therefore, this provides an opportunity to look for vulnerabilities in devices that may not be easily accessible.
Other facility assets that are frequently attacked are cash registers and cameras. ATMs are attacked for vandalism, theft, or attempts at social engineering, while cameras are attacked for obfuscation and destruction.
Self-service checkout stations, point-of-sale (POS) devices, or terminal machines are prime targets for malware deployment, network infiltration, or the use of card skimmers to steal card data. According to a joint study from Cornell and FreedomPay, about 30% of companies have experienced a data breach, and about 90% of them are attacked again within a year.
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Retail organizations are a goldmine in data collection, as millions of customers almost always provide their basic contact and card information during the checkout process. Threat actors can use this data to gain unauthorized access, sell it to other malicious users, or use it to target victims for financial gain. The collected data can be monetized in other ways, including selling it to marketing companies. So, even if card data is not stolen, hackers can still profit from other consumer data collected.
The retail industry relies heavily on online assets, such as e-commerce websites and mobile applications, to promote and facilitate sales to customers. This large digital footprint places retail organizations at increased risk of cyberattacks.
The website is available 24 hours a day, giving attackers plenty of time to find vulnerabilities to exploit. Because they often host transaction and e-commerce pages, websites are prime targets for data, card information, and product theft. Bot attacks against retail organizations’ websites are common and sophisticated, allowing them to evade common security defenses and account takeovers. Meanwhile, website configuration errors can be exploited via cross-site scripting.
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Attackers have also been known to create fake ads on search engines and social media to simulate legitimate business services, direct potential buyers to fake storefronts to steal card information, and spread malware, spyware, and ransomware. Victims may be directed to fake payment processing pages that appear to be legitimate sites. In the best of these attacks, card information is removed during a transaction, while legitimate site elements are maintained, including the customer receiving the purchased item. In other attacks involving hijacking customer accounts, criminals often place orders using stored card information or divert pending deliveries to in-store pickup. These covert operations allow criminals to go unnoticed.
Retail companies are not the only ones susceptible to retail website fraud. Software developers and technology manufacturers who have e-commerce sites are also at risk. For example, there are many fake portals to download Microsoft Teams and get a copy of Teams that contains malware. This is an attack we are increasingly seeing in search engine ads and popular social media platforms. Companies should monitor key keyword results in search engines to catch these scams.
Mobile apps are everywhere. Thousands of cases are created every day where there is no regulation regarding security measures or legitimacy of any application. This creates a nearly endless list of potential targets and attack locations. Fake apps are designed to imitate legitimate apps, credentials are obtained using fake advertising links, and APIs can be exploited. Companies with and without mobile apps should monitor popular app stores, search engine results, and social media for signs of fake apps and advertising.
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Retail technical assets include databases, servers and satellite offices. Although less accessible than physical or digital assets, they are vulnerable and attacks can disrupt operations in any location.
Network databases are frequently targeted because they can be used to distribute malware campaigns across retail organizations, to expand illicit access, and for example to carry out DDoS attacks. Database storage must be protected and monitored against attempts at data theft, data modification, and espionage.
When a server is attacked, it is often used to hand over more IT assets, conduct espionage operations, steal data, and distribute malware. Servers are also subject to DDoS attacks, which can hinder business transactions and cause significant loss of revenue. Last year, the retail industry experienced the highest volume of DDoS attacks per month of any industry.
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One area that is often overlooked is satellite offices. Although they are separate and often use their own resources, these offices can be used to attack the assets of an entire company. An area of great concern
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