We have all heard the phrase 'the UK high street is dying' hundreds of times, even I am guilty of jumping on to this bandwagon. It's in tabloids, on advertisements and has been repeatedly discussed in the BBC newsroom. It's everywhere and often surrounded by negativity. But, the truth is the high street isn't dying, it's evolving. More specifically digitally evolving. Stores are moving onto digital platforms and finding new ways to bridge the gap between online and offline.
So far, this digital movement has worked. New apps get released, returns are easier, we don't have to wait till the weekend to go clothes shopping and opening hours are a thing of the past. Who wouldn't want to be able to go clothes shopping at 3 am? Maybe not, but the option is there. Digital is 24/7.
As with most changes, we are still in the early or infant years of the high street digital movement. Which means mistakes are often made. But it all starts to get a bit more serious as our sensitive data is at risk of exposure. The problem is it's not just retail sites that are letting us down, it's social media, universities, dating apps and even airlines.
British airways exposed 380,000 people's information
Marriott Hotels exposed 383,000,000 people's information
Grindr exposed 3,000,000 people's information
SingHealth exposed 1,500,000 people's data, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's medical information
Data and money are being thrown around and websites haven't quite caught up with the security requirements needed for the evolving digital world. I should clarify that not all data is stolen through hacking. Accidental uploads, inside jobs, unprotected API, lost/stolen computers and poor security all result in data being exposed.
The tricky thing about data being exposed is it's primarily humans, not computers that hack into the mainframe so to speak. All those little tricks to get into websites are working. Just one person could take down an entire website, not a room full of screens like the movies tell us. But their greatest power is also their downfall. Website breaching data is not known only by a select few who wear hoodies and sit in a dark room. There are hundreds of professional testers who seek out website security breaches using the same methods as hackers to find loopholes.
Given that 60% of small businesses are out of business 6 months after a hacking incident, even small brands need to start security testing before they are exposed or go bankrupt.