Security is becoming increasingly important to today’s business – especially cyber security and point-of-sale (POS) security. Of course, most small business owners have no idea where to begin when attempting to establish greater POS security. The good news is that you don’t have to have a degree in “geek speak” to implement these security building tactics so you can strengthen your point-of-sale security.
1) Get Rid of Password Defaults
It’s surprising how many businesses operate using factory defaults for passwords. It’s also a huge risk. Hackers know just how often businesses operate with these defaults and use them to breach point-of-sale security all the time.
In addition to changing the factory defaults, though, you should also set a schedule for changing and updating passwords within your organization. Monthly password changes, one certain day each month, helps you keep a schedule for changing passwords and gives hackers and other potential security issues a more difficult time breaking through. The bottom line is that the more difficult you make it for most petty hackers, the more likely it is that they’ll move on to easier targets. Frequent password changes is a small step you can take that will make things more difficult for them and strengthen your point-of-sale security.
2) Know Your Vulnerabilities
You really can’t protect yourself or strengthen your security if you don’t take the time to become aware of where the biggest risks lie. Systems that lack firewall protection are easy marks for hackers. That should be your first line of defense. Many hackers also gain access to POS systems through PC tools that give them access to primary servers – especially those that utilize programs such as PCAnywhere or do not change defaults.
Don’t forget your biggest vulnerability of all may be your employees. Many criminals take menial seasonal jobs in order to gain access to the businesses’ POS systems. Workers account for the vast majority of thefts in a retail environment. In fact, a2010 Jack Hayes International survey indicates that, “Dishonest employees steal 5.9 times more than shoplifters which equates to an average of $639.00 per crime.” Point-of-sale security weaknesses are simply new tools for them to use towards that end.
3) Keep Your Operating System and Anti-Virus Programs Up-to-Date
Operating system updates occur upon discovering software weaknesses and vulnerabilities. They make it more difficult for hackers to penetrate the “back of the house” computers that power the point-of-sale terminals. The same holds true with anti-virus updates. When they uncover new threats, anti-virus software companies release updates that provide protection from those new threats.
4) Secure POS Devices Against Software and Hardware Manipulation
The physical systems require regular physical inspections to ensure there are no skimmers or card readers attached. Physical inspections are often simple matters. However, securing the software can prove problematic for small businesses that lack IT departments. One solution is to seek outside assistance for POS security.You should also take a few no-nonsense steps to improve security that include using separate “clouds” to store financial data. This way, hackers tampering with your POS devices don’t have access to this information and cannot render your business completely inoperable.
As businesses rely more heavily upon computers to operate, the challenge of protecting their information and financial information grows along with that dependency. It’s in the best interest of your small business to seek additional protection in the form of business insurance that specifically mitigates the risks associated with POS sales. Speak to your business insurance agent today.