2.11.2021

What is POS security?

Written by Austin Chegini

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A point of sale (POS) is a device that records transactions. Much like the old-time cash register, a POS rings up items, processes payments, and creates receipts. 

Modern POS systems do much more than traditional cash registers. From processing credit cards to managing inventory, these devices run many crucial business aspects.

However, the advanced capabilities of the latest POS systems make them a target for hackers and other bad actors. Keep reading to learn more about POS security and how to guard your business. 

POS Security Core Factors

Below are the common areas to focus on to improve operational security.

Payment processing

Your customers’ payment data is one of the most valuable targets for malicious actors. These hackers want credit and debit card information so they can either buy items for themselves or sell the information on the dark web. 

Just a single moment of unauthorized access to cardholder data can jeopardize your business. For example, Target suffered a data breach in 2013 that exposed 40 million credit and debit card accounts from customers. Target settled with customers for $138 million dollars, but the company is still embroiled in lawsuits regarding the breach. 

Your point of sale security strategy should require using PCI-compliant payment processors. These devices receive customer data and encrypt it before sending it across the internet. This way, hackers cannot intercept and steal the data sent between payment systems.

Employee theft and shoplifting

Theft will always be an issue for retail stores. From taking candy bars at the checkout aisle to stealing boxes from your stockroom at night, there are quite a few vulnerabilities to address. 

Shoppers pose a threat by taking items off shelves. Unless you see this happening, there is no record of the theft. But also, there is no record of the sale. If you are using an outdated POS or no system at all, you might not even notice the theft. 

For example, you might see five shirts are no longer on a shelf. At the end of the week, you take five more out of storage because they are selling so fast! However, you end up losing money and not realizing it. 

You can prevent this issue by using a point of sale that tracks each transaction and automatically reconciles it against your inventory. This way, you can see your expected inventory against your actual inventory to identify discrepancies.

Likewise, you might have to deal with employee theft. A worker might innocently take a bottle of water or snack from your stockroom from time to time. This small act is harmless in itself, but over time, it can impact your bottom line. 

POS security tools let you keep an accurate count of your inventory in real-time. With these, you can discourage small incidents of theft like this and reduce shrinkage expenses.

Unauthorized access

Someone gaining physical access to your system is one of the biggest POS security vulnerabilities. All it takes is a few minutes for a bad actor to open your terminal, access sensitive data, and then make off like a bandit. 

Similarly, you don’t want an employee to see information that is above their paygrade. From personnel files to financial statements, a lot of documents might be for your eyes only. 

Passwords and swipe cards are the best POS security features to stop unwanted access. With these tools, you can limit who accesses your system by assigning unique login information for each employee. 

At the same time, you can also see employee activity on the POS. So if a questionable transaction occurred or a stock take was incorrect, you know exactly who to speak to about the matter.

Physical protection

Many fast-paced businesses, like bars and nightclubs, use a POS to track orders. In these dark, crowded spaces, accidents can happen. 

To ensure optimal POS security, you might want to use a water-resistant device. These terminals are ideal for bars or anywhere else managing wet inventory. Whether an employee’s hands are a little wet or they accidentally spill a drink, these devices can withstand the liquid and keep your business functioning.

On a similar note, some devices are fragile and need some extra support. For example, if you are using an iPad POS, you might want to protect with a robust stand. This will keep it from tipping over and cracking from accidental contact.

Fire and corruption

Accidents and unexpected errors are often ignored, but they can jeopardize your entire system. If your POS stores data locally, these files are at risk. From natural disasters to simple data corruption, anything can happen that will permanently ruin this data. 

Something as small as a burst pipe could radically affect your business. If your business floods and the water damages your POS, you will lose everything. From inventory logs to important financial files, all will be lost. 

In this situation, you would have trouble filing taxes, paying employees, and operating your business in general. 

Using the cloud is one of the best ways to ensure physical POS security. All files are saved on secure remote servers so you don’t have to worry about losing your data. Best of all, this information is accessible at any time from anywhere. 

Some more ways to improve your business’s security 

Follow these tips to ensure complete POS security:

Update all devices

POS companies are constantly updating their POS software to make it more powerful and easy to use. At the same time, these patches often occur after a known weakness has been found. Hackers spend a lot of time looking for vulnerabilities in software, so companies need to identify and fix these issue. 

Make sure you update your POS regularly to patch exploits in your devices and ensure your system functions properly. If not, you could end up with slow system that will be a perfect target for hackers.

Secure your network

Many modern POS systems run on wifi networks, but unsecured networks can be data protection nightmares. Since data is constantly being sent between devices, you want to prevent anyone from intercepting this information. 

Be sure to use a secure password on your wifi network. You can still offer free internet to your customers but do so through a guest network just for visitors.  

Double-check payment cards

If you swipe a card and the machine accepts it, does that mean it is completely safe? 

The answer is no. 

Here are two scams to look out for regarding credit and debit cards:

  • Stolen cards: Some people will steal credit cards and buy as much as possible before it gets cancelled. To prevent chargebacks and to protect customers, always compare the name on the card with the customer’s ID.
  • Cloned cards: Thieves will sometimes steal credit data using a skimming device and then copy it to another card. This card will match the payer’s name, but the actual credit card data will be for a different account. Make sure to compare the name on the credit card receipt with the name on the card/ID.

Turn to Epos Now for optimal POS security

If you want to keep your business running smoothly, you need the latest in POS software and hardware. 

Epos Now point of sale systems use modern technology and proprietary software to ensure our systems offer unbeatable protection. Whether you run a coffee shop or large retail chain, we have a solution for you. 

Our fleet of devices include:

  • Countertop POS terminals: Desktop devices that are ideal for fixed checkout areas. These systems include a touchscreen display and cash drawer and can integrate with card readers and barcode scanners.
  • Tablet POS systems: Our software can be used on iPad and Android devices. This solution can integrate with a cash drawer, card reader, and barcode scanner.
  • Handheld devices: These small tablets are perfect for taking food orders tableside or helping shoppers on the retail floor. They synchronize with your main POS and feature a camera to streamline stocktakes. 

Our software offers top-notch security with:

  • Cloud storage
  • Payment integrations
  • Unique staff login codes

Call or message us today to get the best in POS security.

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