Recent large-scale data breaches at major retailers have put a bright spotlight on the security of customer information, particularly when it comes to point of sale systems. Neiman Marcus, Target, and most recently Home Depot all revealed major breaches in the last year that affected millions of customers. While smaller businesses may not process the data of millions, they are still at risk of being targeted. In fact, small businesses are often at risk because they don’t have the resources of larger companies to put into security measures. No matter what size your company or your security budget, there are some steps you can take to protect your customers.
Point of Sale, Point of Breach
POS systems are often the target of hackers looking to obtain private information. After the breach at Target that left millions of customers’ information compromised, the company responded with an overhaul of their POS systems. The Neiman Marcus breach was the result of malware that had been installed by hackers in the sales system. Strong security measures surrounding your POS system can make all the difference when it comes to keeping your customer’s information safe, and these five tips can improve your POS security.
1. Upgrade Whenever Possible
The older the technology your POS system uses, the greater the chance hackers have figured out a way to get in. Use the best, most updated systems you can get, and update them as frequently as possible. Stay on top of any software upgrades for your systems, as they will address the most recent security concerns.
2. Restrict Internet Access on Business Computers
Use of computers to browse the web, use of social media sites, and other personal use of computers can expose your POS system to multiple threats. Make sure that all users understand the seriousness of these threats and restrict access whenever possible. Ensure that remote access is disabled so that no one can remotely access your systems.
3. Put Password Policies in Place – and Enforce Them
Strong passwords are one of the building blocks of good security. Never use default passwords; create passwords that are strong, complex, and difficult to guess; and change passwords regularly. Any third parties involved in your security systems should be as stringent about passwords as you are, and make sure they do not share passwords across customers. Restrict knowledge of the passwords to only those who absolutely require access.
4. Keep Customer Information Controlled
It may seem obvious, but stringent policies regarding how credit card information is processed and stored are key to POS security. Make sure that entire credit card numbers never appear anywhere, including receipts, and do not record PIN or CCV2 numbers. Use the best encryption technology to ensure that all data is being transmitted securely – data in transmission is at high risk of being intercepted.
5. Use Firewalls and Antivirus Software
The Neiman Marcus breach resulted from malware that allowed hackers to access credit and debit records. Securing your systems with strong firewalls and the best antivirus software can prevent hackers from accessing your sales system to install malware. Make sure to update your software regularly to protect against the latest weapons in the hacker’s arsenal.