How PoS Attacks Can Stifle a Business


Jun 14, 2016

t wasn’t long ago when business owners were primarily concerned about on-site break-ins, employee theft and damage stemming from natural disasters. Over the past couple of decades the focus of security efforts has shifted away from the tangible to the intangible. Digital attacks have become the top threat to a business’s general functionality. A malicious hack has the potential to absolutely cripple a business. Of particular importance are PoS attacks.

POS Systems

The Growing Threat of PoS Attacks

PoS is an acronym that stands for Point of Sale solutions. These nuanced systems contain an abundance of sensitive information pertaining to individuals as well as their personal finances. A PoS attack that steals this information can doom anyone who has done business with the afflicted company. It is a devastating hack that can ruin a business’s potential as well as its relationships with customers and business partners.

Common PoS Targets

Hackers do not target any old PoS system. These malicious individuals lack a moral compass yet they are quite intelligent when it comes to computers and modern day technology. Cyber thieves specifically target PoS systems that will require little work to crack. They act from a singular platform to pinpoint target-rich environments to maximize results. Fast food restaurants fit this profile due to their frequent customer flows. People will stop in for a couple of minutes to buy a hamburger, chicken sandwich or ice cream, swipe their credit card and be on their merry way. This is a golden opportunity for a hacker to sneak into the PoS system and access the credit card information of hundreds if not thousands of customers. Wendy’s franchise stores were recently hit with a PoS system attack that infected nearly 300 restaurants. Wendy’s in-house digital security team is still working to find the culprit(s). Though 300 restaurants is a mere fraction of the company’s total number of locations, the attack is a clear sign that today’s hackers are at least one step ahead of corporate digital security teams.

Hackers have also infiltrated the PoS systems of hotels and other businesses that operate in the hospitality sector. Such attacks yield an incredible number of credit card customer names, numbers, expiration dates and security codes as hospitality-oriented businesses check plenty of guests in and out on a daily basis. An example of a successful PoS attack is the system breach suffered by Hilton Worldwide between November of 2014 and July of 2015. Guests who used credit cards to check in and out from Hilton hotels were put in harm’s way. Even those who used credit cards to purchase room service had their credit card data exposed. Hackers use this stolen data to purchase items under the victims’ names or directly steal those victims’ funds.

Your Business is Not Completely Defenseless Against a PoS Attack

Assuming that today’s uber-intelligent hackers are always one step ahead of the latest security safeguards and security experts is defeatist. Your business does not have to become the next victim of a PoS attack. It is critically important that you update your firm’s PoS software, seal off all vulnerabilities and promote the use of EMV chip cards. Digital security experts agree that EMV chip cards are vastly superior to the traditional cards that have a magnetic stripe on the back. Cards with EMV chips won’t store an individual’s banking information to complete transactions. EMV chip cards actually use special codes that are unique to each transaction. If a hacker gains access to the PoS system and all of the transactions have been conducted with cards that contain EMV chips, he won’t be able to steal anyone’s money.


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