cyber data crime hack

Cyber risk in the retail sector is at an all-time high. Fresh data from the Information Commissioner’s Office shows a 71% increase in cyber incidents over the last year, alongside the highest total number of attacks on record for the period [Q3 2022 to Q3 2023].

Clearly it is a major cause for concern to see so many retailers suffering some form of cyberattack, putting brand reputations and relationships with customers on the line.  

Prevention is always preferable to cure. Customers want to be confident that their personal information is protected and will reward brands that can persuade them that they are able to safely manage their data.  

However, retailers will always find themselves in cybercriminals’ crosshairs given the rich seams of valuable personal data held. So if the worst does happen, the key is to migitate reputational impact.

This means employing the right communications tools and plans to monitor and manage reputation, mitigate risks and repair any brand damage. For example, do you know if your insurance policy covers the costs of brand rehabilitation?

Live communications remain critical in a cyber crisis. Get these wrong, and victim status evaporates – you quickly become the villain.

If your customers are left in the dark, alienated and angered, rebuilding their trust in your brand will be an uphill struggle. Hiding or downplaying an incident only exacerbates distrust and invites speculation. By acknowledging a breach, its potential impact and providing timely updates on remedial actions, you demonstrate accountability and a commitment to resolution.

You may even consider offering assistance to affected customers to help mitigate damage. Providing identity theft protection services, credit monitoring, or refunds for fraudulent transactions demonstrates empathy and a genuine commitment to customer wellbeing.

No one likes to talk about failure, but it should be remembered there is great value in studying past incidents to strengthen future communications. Continuous learning and adaptation are indispensable in managing an ever-growing, ever-evolving threat landscape.

As the cyber storm in retail continues to grow, taking a proactive approach to safeguarding brand reputation and customer relationships will strengthen resilience and ensure long-term sustainability.

Only by prioritising cyber communications and demonstrating a steadfast commitment to customer trust can you effectively navigate the complexities of cyber risk, while safeguarding your most valuable asset: your reputation.