Cybersecurity in the Retail Industry: 8 Entry-Level Jobs

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

From identifying threats to implementing protective measures, learn how cybersecurity professionals in entry-level positions help secure e-commerce platforms.

[Featured Image] A woman in a warehouse uses a computer and clipboard as she starts a new job in cyber security in the retail industry.

Cybersecurity is the proactive defense of networks, devices, and data against unlawful breach or malicious use. The overarching goal of cybersecurity, as outlined by the American cyber defense agency CISA, is assurance of information confidentiality, integrity, and availability [1].

But how does cybersecurity operate within the retail industry? Read on to discover entry-level cybersecurity roles that contribute to safeguarding digital retail ecosystems.

Why is cybersecurity important in the retail industry?

Possessing vast personal identifying information (PII), such as customer names and bank account numbers, makes retailers attractive targets for bad actors. Amid the widespread adoption of digital platforms during the COVID-19 pandemic, e-commerce fraud saw a notable upswing. 

Online shopping scams accounted for 38 percent of all reported scams in 2020, a substantial increase from the pre-pandemic figure of 24 percent [2]. While the scams plummeted post-crisis, the e-commerce industry remains susceptible to security breaches. For example, in 2022, the losses from online payment fraud surpassed $40 billion [2]. 

Retail cybersecurity concerns

Now that you understand the repercussions of a cyberattack let's shift our focus to the catalysts that are propelling these attacks. Though not exhaustive, the following list summarizes the top risks affecting retail business organizations worldwide:

1. POS attacks

Point of sale (POS) attacks compromise physical transaction devices like in-store card payment machines. In these attacks, cybercriminals remotely deploy malware onto POS devices. Once the malware successfully infiltrates the POS device, the bad actors covertly intercept and extract customers’ banking details as transactions unfold.

2. DDoS attacks

During a DDoS attack, a network of bots (called a botnet) generates an influx of internet traffic on retail servers. The increased load impedes users' access to online retail services and could potentially result in the organization's website crashing. 

3. Malware 

Malware, in its various forms, such as worms, trojans, and rootkits, continues to adapt to bypass security protocols and exploit vulnerabilities in retail networks. Particularly damaging are advanced persistent threats (APTs), which capitalize on pre-existing malware. 

4. Formjacking

Formjacking, also known as e-skimming, is a discreet assault where hackers insert malicious code into payment forms to access sensitive customer data. For example, forms requiring users to input their Social Security numbers present an opportunity for hackers to impersonate victims and engage in fraudulent activities like applying for a new credit card.

Retail cybersecurity entry-level jobs

If you are contemplating a career in cybersecurity, here are some notable job roles worth considering: 

1. Cybercrime investigator

Average annual US base salary (Glassdoor): $103,771

As a cybercrime investigator, you partner with regulatory authorities, private citizens, and enterprises to obtain legal resolutions for online criminal activities. You play a crucial role in building strong cases by meticulously collecting, analyzing, and preserving evidence.

2. Cloud security specialist

Average annual US base salary (Glassdoor): $115,152

In your role as a cloud security specialist, you design secure cloud systems, overseeing their construction and deployment. Your duties also encompass proactively monitoring and identifying vulnerabilities once the systems are operational.

3. Cybersecurity analyst

Average annual US base salary (Glassdoor): $98,748

From pinpointing potential vulnerabilities within a firm's digital ecosystem to responding promptly in the event of a compromise, the role of a cybersecurity analyst is multifaceted. Beyond incident response, you may conduct risk assessments, perform in-depth analyses of threats, and provide comprehensive reporting to keep stakeholders informed.

4. Intelligence analyst

Average annual US base salary (Glassdoor): $108,333

In your role as an intelligence analyst, you develop filtering programs to identify potentially harmful communications and security vulnerabilities. Furthermore, you play a part in producing reports with strategic recommendations, facilitating a proactive defense against continuously evolving cyber threats.

5. Security operations center (SOC) analyst

Average annual US base salary (Glassdoor): $93,410

As a SOC analyst, you are the first responder to cyber incidents, much like cybersecurity analysts. You could work closely with a firm’s cybersecurity engineers and security managers and report to a chief information security officer (CISO). 

6. Malware analyst

Average annual US base salary (Glassdoor): $100,174

In the role of a malware analyst, your primary responsibility involves identifying and analyzing the delivery methods of malicious software such as bots, spyware, worms, and rootkits. After documenting your analysis, you may use reverse engineering to gather threat intelligence.

7. Digital forensics examiner

Average annual US base salary (Glassdoor): $122,586

Your key task as a digital forensic investigator includes examining computers, smartphones, tablets, and other digital devices for signs of criminal activity. You also assist in identifying the methods used by hackers to gain access to sensitive information or disrupt computer systems. 

Additionally, using specialized software, you help recover deleted data from hard drives, among other storage media.

8. Penetration tester

Average annual US base salary (Glassdoor): $112,815

As a penetration tester, you perform authorized cyberattacks on company systems to unmask hidden security vulnerabilities. Besides creating comprehensive reports detailing newly identified security flaws, you also offer recommendations to help organizations enhance their network security.

*All annual base salary data is sourced from Glassdoor as of March 2024 and does not include additional pay, such as commission and benefits.

How to launch your career in retail cybersecurity 

A set career path to become a retail cybersecurity professional doesn’t exist, but the following steps can serve as stepping stones: 


Although not always mandatory, employers often prefer job candidates with cybersecurity degrees. You can pursue a cybersecurity program at a college or university or opt for a computer science or information systems major as an alternative.

In case you already hold a bachelor’s degree or prefer a shorter commitment, consider investing in a bootcamp. The combination of intensive training, practical focus, and collaborative learning makes bootcamps an effective route for quickly transitioning into the workforce.

Work experience

Engaging in industry experience opens doors to a distinctive learning environment where you connect theoretical knowledge with real-world challenges. Whether you’re a beginner or switching careers as an experienced professional, internships and volunteer roles are excellent pathways to gain relevant experience. 


Certifications typically position you as a credible candidate for roles that demand a background in cybersecurity. This, in turn, can lead to higher annual pay. Below are a few industry-recognized cybersecurity certifications you can aim for based on your career path:

1. CompTIA Security+

Offered by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), the CompTIA Security+ certification tests you on the fundamental skills necessary for carrying out core security functions and embarking on a career in IT security.

Expected average base salary: $84,000 [3]


The Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certification from ISACA, formerly known as the Information Systems Audit and Control Association, is designed to equip you with the skills to manage risks, establish robust governance, and proactively address security incidents.

Expected average base salary: $137,000 [4]


The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) credential, issued by ISC2 (International Information System Security Certification Consortium), is ideal for experienced security practitioners, managers, and executives seeking to validate their expertise in diverse security practices.

Expected average base salary: $127,000 [5]

Learn more with Coursera 

Level up your cybersecurity skills with the Foundations of Cybersecurity course on Coursera. Offered by Google, this course includes interactive videos and activities to help you prepare for entry-level cybersecurity jobs. You will need approximately 21 hours to finish this course. You can also complete the entire Google Cybersecurity Professional Certificate, of which this course is one of an eight-course series leading to a sharable Professional Certificate.

Article sources


CISA. “What is Cybersecurity?” Accessed on March 11, 2024.

Keep reading

Updated on
Written by:

Editorial Team

Coursera’s editorial team is comprised of highly experienced professional editors, writers, and fact...

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.