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What a Potential Wave of Cyber Attacks From Russia Could Mean for Retail Businesses

President Biden is imposing sanctions against Russia — including export blocks on certain technology — in an effort to help end its conflict with Ukraine sooner rather than later. However, the government is aware that these actions could prompt a negative response in the form of destructive software attacks from Russia.

As such, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is making the U.S. hyper-vigilant of potential cyber attacks on businesses and consumers.

“We’re seeing cyber warfare rearing its ugly head here,” said Brian Marks, a senior lecturer of economics and business at the University of New Haven who warned of the potential damages cyber attacks could have on businesses as well as consumers.

In light of the threat, the Department of Homeland Security is encouraging businesses and organizations of all sizes to bolster their cyber resilience and security capabilities.

These attacks, the agency said on an information page on the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) website, “may have consequences for our own nation’s critical infrastructure, a potential we’ve been warning about for months.”

“In today’s highly connected and complex technology environment it has become increasingly challenging to completely prevent incidents that may disrupt business operations, especially given the dependencies on supply chains where there is inherently imperfect control,” the CISA website read.

As such, CISA and other business groups are encouraging businesses to prepare their organizations in the event of cyber, ransomware and malware attacks.

“Russian nationalist hackers, as well as their cyber army, are going to be targeting U.S. companies to harm our economic welfare if President Biden orders additional and necessary sanctions and actions,” wrote the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America in a letter to members, warning that these attacks could hit “shoe companies of all sizes.”

According to FDRA, since most of these attacks will occur via email, people should avoid any suspicious looking emails from unknown sources and take time to backup all data.

Elements of this Eastern European conflict are already having ramifications in the U.S. American stock markets sank Thursday morning after Russia launched an invasion on Ukraine, though they ended the day in positive territory after remarks from President Biden.

Given the conflict, supply chain slowdowns could yield higher oil prices — which were already sitting at more than $100 per barrel this morning — and could hit U.S. consumers at the pumps. (Russia is one of the top three leading oil producers, with roughly 13% of the market.) At the same time, food prices will also likely increase given the impact on Ukraine, a major exporter of food that is often referred to as the “breadbasket of Europe.”

As economic trends dictate, when commodities like oil and food break the bank, consumers are less likely to spend their money on other items that are not immediately necessary, like luxury apparel, accessories or footwear.

The FDRA warned that increasing oil prices will also have “increase shoe material and input costs in a number of ways,” including shipping and delivery costs, so members should take care to reduce certain costs to account for these increases.

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