Boost cyber security now

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Sir: The Heartbleed bug saga should act as a salutary reminder that UK retailers cannot afford to lose sight of cyber security threats. The sector is a prime target and the likelihood of significant UK-targeted cyber attacks is very high.

Retailers need to pay greater attention to the value of the data they hold. They are entrusted with customers’ credit card information, often more valuable on the black market than the merchandise they have in stock. Recent large hacking incidents in the US serve as a warning of what could happen here and a direct threat as heightened cyber defences there prompt the criminals to look elsewhere.

Cyber attacks carry significant financial, reputational and operational risks and are as much a corporate governance issue as an IT issue. Retailers must review their approach to security and identify vulnerabilities. The data life cycle must be established, so it is clear from the moment a customer swipes a card until the company no longer has the information where and in what form this information is held. Only then can its security be safeguarded.

Seth Berman, executive MD, Stroz Friedberg

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