As cyber-attacks increase, are cash payments the extra security your business needs?

13 December 2021

With more and more high-street businesses providing online shopping and click and collect services these days, we’re inevitably all becoming more exposed to cyber-crime.

Businesses have borne the brunt of this particular online crime for many years, but as the online demand continues to increase, the retail industry, who previously only had to worry about shoplifting, are now becoming more and more vulnerable to cyber-related theft and fraud as attacks become more frequent and ever-more sophisticated.

And while it’s easy to assume that cyber-attacks affect online businesses, the threat of cyber-crime is just as real for bricks and mortar businesses, with point-of-sale attacks being particularly rife.

According to the Cyber Security Breaches Survey, published in March 2021 by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), 39% of all UK businesses (approximately 2.3m) reported a cyber breach or attack during 2020/21 - a worrying statistic that all businesses need to be mindful of.

The problem with card-only payments

With businesses currently so reliant on card payments, particularly after the misinformation spread about accepting cash during the pandemic, the ongoing threat of cyber-attacks has the potential to derail any business at any time – something that no establishment can afford in the current climate.

The biggest target for the perpetrators of cyber-crime is of course customer data – primarily card payment details and general personal information. Retailers have access to a wealth of sensitive data about their customers, and the more they collect and retain for sophisticated marketing campaigns that are the norm these days, the more the retail industry becomes exposed to cyber-crime.

The effects of this kind of cyber-attack were demonstrated loud and clear in recent weeks when a chain of convenience stores in the UK were hit by a network outage that impacted their tills, credit cards and back-office systems. Such was the severity of the outage that some stores were forced to close, and those that remained open could only accept cash payments for a day or so afterwards.

While the company acted as quickly as possible to rectify the situation, the attack serves as an important lesson for retailers that when systems are affected by a cyber-attack (or even a less serious but still impactful I.T outage), being set up and prepared to accept cash could prove to be a lifesaver.

Why cash is always reliable in a cyber-crisis

Cash has had a rough ride over the past couple of years, with fears that using cash could spread COVID. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has now stated categorically that cash bears no more of a threat than using a credit/debit card or a mobile phone for payment, yet still some stores and leisure outlets are reluctant to change their policy on this.

But with the threat of cyber-crime ever-present, it’s time for stores to face the reality of the situation and not only take steps to try and prevent themselves from being at risk, but also to have a contingency plan for such an attack. However sophisticated a retailer’s I.T systems are, no one is immune to this threat, with the likes of Amazon, Costco, and even Microsoft and Facebook falling victim in recent years.

A report by Keeper Security research found that successful cyber-attacks against retailers resulted in either severe disruptions to partner and customer operations (34%); their supply chain (33%), and a retailer’s ability to trade (29%) – and these worrying statistics are sure to grow.

So what can retailers do to protect themselves from this tidal wave of online crime? Increasing their online security is the obvious answer, but retailers should also consider offering customers a wider choice of payment options to avoid closure if impacted by a major cyber-attack.

Secure cash handling thanks to Volumatic

Quite simply, retailers need to recognise that accepting cash is a safe and reliable form of payment from their customers - plus it’s reassuringly resistant to cyber-crime.

And if cash handling is also seen as a risk by retailers, Volumatic has the solution.

Offering a wide range of cash-handling devices that are proven to improve efficiency, security and save money, Volumatic are experts in their field and already work with the likes of Tesco, Morrisons, The Coop Food Group, Wilko and Nisa.

From their simple CountEasy cash counting machines to the sophisticated one-touch cash handling system, the CounterCache intelligent (CCi), and everything in between, including secure CounterCache storage devices and cash trolleys, Volumatic products are built to last, boast an unrivalled warranty and can save businesses cash handling costs by an incredible 75%.

Volumatic’s Sales and Marketing Director, Mike Severs says: “Retailers need to be prepared for any eventuality when it comes to cyber-attacks. As our recent Cash and Covid whitepaper found, it’s dangerous for businesses to rely solely on card payments, as it not only alienates customers who want to pay with cash, but also means they are even more vulnerable to cyber-crime.

He added: Accepting cash cannot stop these attacks of course, but if your company is taking cash payments, it can also help to minimise the impact of cyber-attacks and keep your business ticking along until the threat is dealt with.”

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