One of the key objectives of the NCSC is to increase the overall resilience of the UK’s cyberspace by working with organisations and businesses across our economy and society. Recently we have been engaging with the retail sector, principally through the British Retail Consortium (BRC), to see how NCSC can support retailers to ensure their ongoing success in an increasingly digitalised environment.
I very much doubt you need me to enlighten you on the importance of the retail sector to the economy; though contribution to UK GDP, numbers of employees in the UK, extensive supply chains and connections to almost every citizen in the country do spring to mind.
The digital environment offers many opportunities for retailers. Additional revenue of course, but it’s also about creating jobs; the growth and development of customer sets; and new ways of marketing their brands. But along with those opportunities come new vulnerabilities, which can have punitive financial and reputational price tags. Realising the opportunities requires business and customer confidence in the UK’s digital environment which underpins them.
It’s well known that the majority of successful cyber attacks are not that sophisticated in technology or expertise. They are often low-cost and easy to deploy for the attacker. But nevertheless, they can do serious damage to the victim – whether retailer or consumer. If we want to keep our fantastic digitalised economy, we need to recognise that it relies upon a secure digital space. That’s why the vision of the NCSC is about helping to make the UK the safest place to live and do business online.
In my own area of Economy and Society Engagement, one of the newer remits for the NCSC, we want to focus on products and services which make it easier to access and embed practical solutions. That’s been the basis of our engagement with the BRC’s toolkit, which was launched recently and which we are proud to be supporting. It equips the BRC’s members - whether big retailers or niche boutiques - with the self-help knowledge and expertise to help to manage their risks.
Working with the BRC is also giving the NCSC a real insight into understanding this large and diverse sector: what really matters, what the barriers are and how we can best offer tangible, relevant support. We’ve found much common cause: protecting customers’ personal data foremost, but also retaining company reputations as well as their profits. As an influential partner, BRC is helping NCSC to engage a wider number of retailers than we would ever be able to reach alone. This collaboration hugely extends the impact of our work and, through innovations like the toolkit, offers practical help to retailers around the country. And of course, many retailers are also in a great position to influence the behaviours of their customers and their suppliers, taking the lead in raising cyber security standards in this important part of our economy.
If we are going to maintain confidence in our increasingly digitised economy, we must make sure that everyone, whether retailers, small or large; manufacturers; voluntary bodies; academic institutions; plumbers, hairdressers and recruiters; as well as our government and critical networks, can go about building their businesses in a safe and secure UK digital environment.
Deputy Director Economy & Society, NCSC