Staying vigilant in the digital age

Criminal threats are no longer constrained to the physical world and retailers should take steps to protect their business from cybercriminal attacks

Computer screens
Ransomware attacks have reportedly doubled in the last year.

Craig Kennedy

Craig Kennedy is a partner on the dispute resolution team at Dentons.



FEW business threats are as complex or difficult to guard against as cyber attacks.

The pace at which technology advances means online threats constantly evolve. This, sadly, requires a perpetual evolution of technical and operational resilience to guard against the threats that exist as they emerge.

As every sector is now heavily reliant on technology, there is no shortage of potential targets for cybercriminals to exploit.

The food and agriculture sectors are particularly vulnerable as their increasing reliance on smart technology for manufacturing processes makes the impact of suffering a cyber incident all the more extreme.

The effects of a cyber attack are varied, ranging from diversion of funds or data theft to a complete inability to access online or electronic systems.

This most often occurs through a denial of service attack (which overwhelms a network, temporarily blocking access to it) or a ransomware attack (which encrypts key systems and demands a ransom – typically payable in cryptocurrency) for the release key.

With GCHQ reporting that ransomware attacks have doubled in the last year alone, businesses would be well advised to understand the operational disruption that could be faced by falling foul of such an attack to ensure appropriate safeguards are put in place.

Cyber incidents inevitably bring with them some degree of business interruption.

In the food and agriculture sector, that disruption typically takes the form of:

  • production lines grinding to a complete halt;
  • operations being disrupted through a lack of access to crucial records;
  • supply chain disruption; and
  • commercially sensitive information being compromised.

The good news is that much can be done to proactively guard against cyber risks. All businesses should:

  • understand the vulnerabilities of their business and have the appropriate contingency plans in place;
  • have an incident response plan in place, mapping out how it will respond to any cyber threats encountered;
  • ensure staff with IT privileges understand how cyber threats commonly enter businesses;
  • understand regulatory and compliance obligations to ensure steps can be taken to mitigate any sanctions faced for suffering a cyber attack;
  • maintain appropriate network and IT security; and
  • have cyber insurance in place to soften the financial impact of cyber events faced.

Cyber crime is here to stay. It is incumbent on all businesses to take the appropriate steps to ensure that any cyber threat faced is capable of being overcome.

With a little proactive diligence and the right advice, most organisations can implement the appropriate safeguards which greatly improves the prospects of avoiding all but the most sophisticated cyber attacks.

Do you have a business, property or legal question or issue that you would like to know more about?

Contact Scottish Grocer and we’ll put it to an expert. Call Matthew Lynas on 0141 567 6074 or email