These days it seems like every point of sales (POS) terminal collects far more data than just a customer's total. Your cash register is probably harvesting information about credit and debit cards as well as customer's addresses. In some cases, you might even ask for a customer's phone number or email address. This has led many small business owners to wonder whether their client's data can ever be stolen out of their POS devices. If you don't cover this kind of breach with a plan, you could be looking at exponential legal or financial costs.
Can Your Data Be Stolen?
Short answer, yes it can. Over 1,500 individual corporate data breaches occurred in 2017 alone. Apparently, major credit bureaus have simply lost count of how often identity theft occurs as a result of companies leaking customer payment details over the Internet. While many analysts had hoped that this was a short-term trend that would eventually correct itself, this doesn't seem to be the case. The same ITRC cybersecurity study said that over 3 billion customer accounts were leaked in one of the breaches alone.
Merchant One states that all POS systems have some level of risk when it comes to security, but most attackers look for easy targets that use systems vulnerable to automated attacks. They search for machines that don't have firewalls or that might be broadcasting their presence to the whole world. Merchants often don't go to the same lengths to secure their POS devices that they would when setting up any other computer in their place of business. They might not even think of a cash register as a computer, which helps to exacerbate the problem.
What You Can Do
Treat every POS terminal your company deploys as an Internet-connected PC. Make sure to install relevant security updates from the hardware vendor. While it might sound strange, they often do make these available for download. If your registers feature a security setup menu, then make sure to tweak the settings and close any holes. In particular, Firewalls.com advises that you make sure the built-in firewall has been activated. Some systems store information on a temporary basis for performance reasons. If your POS terminal features any sort of cache, then you'll need to make sure to clear it regularly. You might want to set it to do this automatically when it restarts.
Your customers rely on you to keep their information secure. Following good security practices can help to improve a retailer's brand image. Security breaches are, after all, an extreme example of negative publicity.
Such security breaches can happen to anyone at any time, which is why Alliance Insurance Agency offers the finest Cyber Liability Insurance and General Liability. Protect your business today!