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Spar cyber attack and outage

December 2021 by Peter Groucutt, Managing Director at Databarracks

Following the recent cyber-attack on Spar, which has impacted over 300 stores across the country, Peter Groucutt, Managing Director at Databarracks, the UK’s specialist business continuity and IT disaster recovery provider, has provided his thoughts on the outage and how it will impact Spar over the coming days. “Assuming this is a ransomware attack (which so far isn’t confirmed) it means that there is increasing pressure to pay the ransom if they aren’t able to restore systems quickly.

“Unfortunately for Spar, their downtime will translate directly into lost revenue. That isn’t always the case. For some businesses, a day of downtime will mean its customers will defer their purchases but for Spar, most will just go to another nearby supermarket.

“Some of the stores have stayed open taking cash payments. Previously that would have been a good alternative but over the last few years retail has become increasingly cashless. The contactless payment limit has increased and over the pandemic, people have been carrying less cash to minimise contact. Generally, it makes for more convenient shopping, but as in other cases, when we become more dependent on technology, we lose the manual alternatives and workarounds.

“Attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Methods like double-extortion where an attacker also exfiltrates private data and threatens to leak it if the ransom isn’t paid is now common. Attackers will also time attacks to hit the most difficult time to further encourage payment of the ransom. Black Friday through Christmas and January sales are particularly busy for retailers in general and that corresponds to increased activity from attackers.

“The NCSC have issued a statement about the attack so hopefully Spar is getting the support it needs to get back up and running as quickly as possible.”

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