“Hackers managed to gain access to part of the Spinneys’ network, affecting the function of part of our store operations for a short period of time,” said Tom Harvey, general manager of Spinneys Dubai.
“The issue has been dealt with swiftly.”
No customer data was accessed in the attack as this is contained securely in a separate system that was not breached, Mr Harvey said.
“We are very grateful to our customers for their patience and apologise if anyone was inconvenienced while shopping in our stores at the time of the hack.”
As more businesses adopt hybrid work models and undergo rapid digital transformation to cope with coronavirus challenges, they are also more exposed to cyber threats.
This has resulted in an increase in budget allocations towards thwarting potential security breaches.
More than 85 per cent of UAE businesses surveyed said their security budget has increased in the past year to address ransomware, compared with 92 per cent globally, Boston-based security firm Cybereason said in its annual ransomware study.
Cyber criminals are expected to attack a business, consumer or device every two seconds by 2031, according to New York-based research company Cybersecurity Ventures.
It said ransomware damages cost the world about $20 billion, which is 57 times more than in 2015 at $325 million.
The company predicts ransomware will cost its victims about $265bn by 2031.
Customers in the UAE took to Twitter to post about Spinneys’ store closures. They reported that many Spinneys stores were closed due to “technical issues” or “system errors” on Saturday morning.
Another Twitter user said the Spinneys app was not working, with no products showing up.
The retail sector faces several challenges ranging from supply chain to security, according to Emad Fahmy, systems engineering manager for the Middle East at NETSCOUT, an advanced network detection and response platform.
"A key threat is DDoS attacks, which can lead to costly downtime and lasting reputational damage. DDoS is a malicious attempt to disrupt the normal traffic of a targeted server, service, or network by overwhelming the target or its surrounding infrastructure with a flood of Internet traffic," Mr Fahmy added.