Although large corporations are always at risk, a significant amount of cyberattacks bypass the big fish and target small businesses. Point of Sale (POS) system attacks are particularly effective because they provide a hacker with direct access to customer payment information. Once a thief gets a hold of payment data, they can either use it or peddle it to someone else for a quick profit.
The key is to ensure you and your employees are well-informed about the risk of cyber attacks. Read on to learn what a POS system is, how hackers attack them, the different kinds of threats, and what you can do to protect your business.
What Is a POS System?
A point of sale (POS) system is one that enables customers to make electronic payments, typically using a credit card, mobile device, or debit card. Within these devices is an operating system that’s able to keep track of inventory, hold customer data, and other important information in a database.
POS security focuses on how to prevent unauthorized individuals from stealing customer payment information, such as credit or debit card details.
What Kinds of Threats Can Affect POS Systems?
A POS system, like all computers, can be hacked. Attackers have written malware designed to take advantage of security weaknesses in a variety of POS systems. POS malware takes advantage of the POS computer’s random access memory (RAM), which stores users' payment information.
Hackers use malware that is able to steal payment information from the system’s RAM and send it to the attacker. They can then either use this data to make purchases or sell it to another cybercriminal.
Some popular forms of malware designed for POS systems include:
Employee Error or Theft
Employees can also pose a significant threat to your POS system security—either intentionally or accidentally. Employees may engage in:
- Double swiping. This is when the card’s chip has already been read, but the employee swipes the card anyway. This increases the risk of information being stolen because it stores the card information inside the system unnecessarily.
- Credit card theft. An employee may steal the credit card number, expiration date, and security numbers of a customer, and either use them or sell the info to someone else.
- Unauthorized access to the POS system’s application. An employee may get a hold of the login information that allows them to see the information stored in the database of the POS system’s app. They can then take screenshots or copy information by hand.
How to Minimize the Risk of POS Attacks for Small Businesses
Fortunately, there are several steps small businesses can take to minimize the cyber risk of POS attacks.
Screen Your Employees
You should run thorough background checks on all your employees, regardless of how well you know them outside of work. If anything suspicious or concerning arises, you may want to:
- Reconsider hiring them if they’re just an applicant
- Talk with them to gain clarification, particularly for minor concerns
- Check with authorities or read public court documents concerning what happened
- Double-check with their references, and be sure to ask specific questions regarding their professional character
In this way, you can more accurately gauge the risk of them executing a POS attack. Doing your due diligence can also make it easier to avoid a wrongful termination suit if you decide to fire the person.
Check the Credentials of Techs Who Connect
Just because a tech expert has all the right equipment doesn’t mean they are a legitimate employee. You should check any tech’s credentials by carefully examining their ID card or other identification and checking in with the company that sent them.
Get a Cybersecurity Insurance Policy
A cyber insurance policy can protect you from losses stemming from:
- Stolen credit card information
- Stolen bank information
- Identity theft
- Stolen account numbers
- Other data breaches, such as those involving drivers license numbers, health records, and social security cards
Small businesses are just as vulnerable as—if not more than—retail giants when it comes to POS cyber attacks. With the right cybersecurity insurance policy, you can guard yourself against POS attacks and maintain the trust and patronage of your valuable customers.
Reach out to your local trustedchoice.com agent to learn more about your insurance options. They’re there to support you, answer all of your questions, and ensure that you get the right cybersecurity coverage to protect your small business. If you don’t have one, you can find an independent insurance agent today.