A PhD student from Royal Holloway, University of London has been announced the winner of the BRC's 2017 Cyber Security Challenge. 

The latest BRC Annual Retail Crime Survey revealed that an estimated 53 per cent of reported fraud in the retail industry is cyber-enabled, which represents a total direct cost of around £100 million. UK retailers already have some of the most secure IT infrastructures available, and the BRC is a lead partner for its members and key specialists in joint efforts to further strengthen those structures.

As part of that work, the BRC is pleased to announce the results of its Retail Cyber Security Student Challenge for 2017 covering the cyber security risks facing the UK retail industry and how to tackle them.

The challenge, which was open to any student based at a UK higher education establishment, invited new ideas on how government, law enforcement and industry should work together to tackle the main cyber security threats facing retail in the UK. The judging panel for the final consisted of a group of leading cyber security scholars: Professor Chris Hankin (Imperial College, London), Professor M. Angela Sasse FREng (UCL) and Dr Tim Stevens (King's College, London).

The winning paper was authored by Andreas Haggman, currently studying for a PhD in Cyber Security and Geopolitics at Royal Holloway, University of London. Andreas will receive a cash prize of £500 and the opportunity to present his work to the BRC's Fraud and Cyber Security Member Group, at which members can test and apply the expert analysis and have his work published in full in the BRC's membership magazine, The Retailer.

Commenting on the winning entry, Dr Tim Stevens at King's College, London and member of the judging panel said:

“Andreas’ winning essay balances excellent awareness of retail operations with the contemporary demands of cybersecurity. It offers a picture of key threats and how retailers factor them in to their relationships with customers. In its focus on point of sale interactions, and thinks about where future threats might arise and makes concrete recommendations for improving security thinking and practice. Overall, it offers sound advice for charting a way forward for retailers and their partners in law enforcement and government.”

James Martin, Crime and Security Adviser at the BRC said:

 “The BRC remains fully committed to supporting its members to meet their security and cyber-security needs, and works with cutting edge partners across the corporate and public sectors, as well as in academia, to do that. The response to this competition was excellent, with the standard extremely high, and like the judges we think that the winning entries showed a combination of innovation and real-world problem solving.”

Retailers seeking guidance on cyber security can look at the BRC’s Cyber Security Toolkit’, which provides retail businesses of all sizes with a practical, step-by-step guide to prevent and manage cyber security threats and protect the customers they serve. The toolkit aims to provide retailers with practical guidance to ensure they have the appropriate preventative and response measures in place to reduce their vulnerabilities and to protect both themselves and their customers.