5 security measures you need for your online POS system
Online POS systems, also known as cloud based POS systems, have become increasingly popular in recent years, particularly among small- and medium-sized businesses that value their mobility and convenience. With a cloud-based solution, merchants simply need a PC, smartphone or tablet, a secure peripheral card reader (for card-present transactions), and an internet connection in order to accept and receive card payments.
One of the best perks of an online POS system is that business owners can access important payments information from anywhere with access to the internet—whether at home, on the road, or from a remote selling location. This gives small business owners the flexibility they need while wearing many hats to run their business and working from several different locations to get everything done.
Clearly, there are many pros to taking payments in the cloud. Still, as with any payments system, there are cons, too. For example, cloud based POS solutions typically don’t allow for much customization. While this may not be a big deal for smaller merchants, some business owners may want the ability to pick and choose from different options to suit their operations.
Pros and cons aside, like any payment solution, data security must be addressed. As with traditional POS systems, online solutions have to include protections to prevent attacks from cyberthieves, hackers, and data miners. With 43 percent of all cyber attacks targeting small businesses, and 60 percent of those small companies closing their doors within six months of an attack, it’s imperative that merchants follow payment security best practices to protect their businesses.
In addition to best practices, let’s take a closer look at five ways you can protect your cloud-based online POS.
1. Antivirus software
There’s little doubt that data breaches are occurring with alarming frequency. The Identity Theft Resource Center and Cyberscout reports that data breaches in the U.S. hit an all-time record high in 2016, up 40 percent over the previous year. Since a cloud based solution is used in conjunction with a device connected to the internet, it’s important to invest in antivirus software that protect the network from viruses. According to InfoWorld, data breaches can occur when a company fails to install proper security measures. Be sure to keep antivirus software and malware protection software up to date to protect against unauthorized access.
2. Encryption software
The most secure payments solutions use encryption technology, which protects sensitive data while in transit during a transaction. Although encryption is a common feature in today’s payment solutions, it's important to ensure that it’s up-to-date. Older versions of encryption software may be prone to data leaks. Additionally, the mobile device and the peripheral card reader used to access the cloud payment program must be EMV enabled in order to meet the requirements of the 2015 fraud chargeback liability shift. Modern EMV readers are designed for secure contactless payments and often use dual authentication security protocols.
3. Secure lines
Another means of protecting against unauthorized access to your cloud based POS system is to secure network connections. Think of this as a guarded highway upon which only your data can travel. For example, if you offer public Wi-Fi access in your business, keep this network separate from the network you use for your business operations including your cloud POS system. If you are not sure how to set up separate, secure internet networks at your business, consult with your trusted POS or payments provider or a reputable IT professional.
4. Modern hardware
If you use multiple POS systems in your establishment, make sure that all are equipped with the same security features. If you are starting from scratch or your current system is too dated to upgrade, it’s worth investing in a system that is either new or recently refurbished. If you choose a refurbished POS system, make sure it includes payment encryption technology and is EMV compatible so you can accept chip cards.
5. Anti-fraud services
Some payment providers offer fraud liability protection programs, which are designed to proactively address payment anomalies and mitigate fraud before it occurs. Two things to look for in a comprehensive anti-fraud program include PCI compliance assistance and breach assistance. Since PCI compliance is an ongoing process—not a one-time event—the best PCI assistance programs offer tools that guide merchants through the entire process, virus scan capabilities to ensure continued compliance, and support from compliance professionals. Breach protection varies by provider, and is designed to reduce liability. Breach Assist from Vantiv, for example, reduces a business’ liability by up to $100,000 per merchant location and up to $500,000 per event involving multiple locations.
Cloud based payments offer many opportunities for merchants to connect with the vast array of consumers who are increasingly embracing mobile wallets and mobile payments. When evaluating an online payments provider for your business, be sure to inquire about security offerings. Equipped with a comprehensive, secure payments environment, your business will have a solid foundation for driving even more revenue. Learn more about payment security.