February 7, 2015
Verizon’s 2013 Data Breach Investigations Report shows that, during that year, hackers were especially active targeting Point-of-Sale (POS) systems. Along with web apps, these payment terminal systems were actually the number one target for hackers. Fifty global companies contributed to the report, with a total number of 1,367 confirmed cases of data breaches and 63,437 security incidents.
Retailers have to realize that all POS systems have some degree of security risk, even EPOS (Eletronic Point-of-Sale) systems. According to Verizon’s Paul Pratley, “a lot of attackers simply look for vulnerable victims on the Internet and deploy automated attacks.”
The somewhat recent episode affecting Target showed that data breaches can be very harmful and cause – in a quick and effective way – significant declines in consumer trust and even lead to major financial losses. With these facts in mind, it is important for companies and retailers to look at POS security (both online and offline) as a top priority.
As the graphs below clearly show, the most popular type of POS systems attacks is RAM-scraping malware, which grabs payment card data while it is being processed in the memory and before being encrypted. But online payment systems are also targeted, with Verizon recommending several actions to improve security. For EPOS systems it’s important to do things such as avoiding single-factor authentications, fixing current vulnerabilities, and monitoring outbound connections.
Taking all of this into consideration, retailers should definitely not think that such incidences can only happen to retailers other than themselves. These security issues are very real and can just as easily affect retailing giants or small online stores. As POS systems increasingly become a target for hackers, business owners should be more educated about the problem in order to raise their own awareness.
In order to maximize protections, they should opt for more technologically-advanced POS systems and implement the best possible mechanisms of defense – even if they have to spend money hiring security professionals.
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