Technology advancement is always a good thing for consumers and entrepreneurs, but it isn’t without any risk. If you consider the history of mobile phones, the smartphone you have right now is considerably more powerful than a desktop computer from the early nineties. That’s how far we’ve come in mobile telecommunications technology.
But as impressive as smartphones are today, they don’t come without a price. You hear of mobile phones getting hacked, contact information stolen, and sensitive photos and videos of celebrities being leaked online. Technological advancement exposes us to new kinds of vulnerabilities and threats.
In the case of tablet or mobile-based point-of-sale systems, or POS, the risk of getting hacked has become significant. As a business owner, it is your duty to protect not just your own interests, but the interest of your customers as well. POS systems record sales transactions, process credit cards, keep inventory data, and store customer information. To a cybercriminal, that is a goldmine.
To protect your client, as well as your business, you need to know where your vulnerabilities are and how to prevent hackers from accessing vital information through your POS system.
The Three Points of Entry on POS Systems That Hackers Often Use
- The POS Device Itself
Point-of-sale devices like smartphones and tablets are the most obvious targets for cybercriminals because these devices typically have the most direct exposure to the public. If you use the POS device as an interactive menu or catalog for store items and customers have easy access to it, then cybercriminals will have no problem accessing it as well.
Any individual can simply approach the device and manually infect it with malware, even without possessing advanced computer hacking skills or an elaborate deployment method. All it takes is a small thumb drive that contains the malware, a gutsy criminal, and a distracted store employee.
- Wireless Network Communication
Wireless network communications are very common. They are also vulnerable to outside attacks, especially if the network is not properly protected. If a cybercriminal can’t get to a POS device to infect malware, their next point of entry is the network communication system in your establishment. The goal of this network-level attack is to intercept unencrypted data in the connection phase of any point-of-sale system. During this attack, the router of your Wi-Fi network becomes the target.
An open Wi-Fi hotspot is the easiest entry point to your network. Because it’s a free, open access to your network, it’s like an open invitation to black-hat hackers who are up to no good. Closed Wi-Fi hotspots, on the other hand, are slightly more secure, but they are not completely foolproof. More sophisticated hackers can still gain access to your network communication system using a wide variety of methods.
- Data Servers
Attacks that are aimed at network communications and data servers are generally the most complex and difficult to pull off. But that doesn’t mean that this level of hacking doesn’t occur. It just means that cybercriminals who perform network and server-level hacks are more dedicated, especially when they expect significant returns.
Server-level attacks are quite serious, because they not only affect a single device or network system, but hackers can potentially gain access to a number of point-of-sale systems that house sensitive data in that particular server as well. The ultimate goal of hackers, in doing server-level hacks, is to gain access to a user’s computer where all critical information may be stored, such as inventory data, employee records, and of course, customer credit card information.
The iPad POS System: Preventive Security Measures
There is no doubt that there is a significant rise in the number of cloud-based point-of-sale systems being used in most business establishments nowadays. Albeit a cloud-based POS system is essentially safer and more secure, many of these still operate on outdated software and operating systems, which are vulnerable to attacks through the device itself. Remember point of entry number one?
So what can you do to reduce the risk of getting hacked? The answer is simple, upgrade your point-of-sale system.
Tablet-based POS systems are becoming a common sight in many retail stores, restaurants, and other establishments. There is no surprise there. But if you really want a secure point-of-sale that isn’t easily attacked or infiltrated, you should consider using an iPad POS system for your business.
Apple’s iOS is considered by experts as one of the best operating systems when it comes to security. It consistently outperforms most of the other operating systems in the industry as far as the implementation of security measures is concerned. Here are a few key attributes present in an iPad-based POS:
- Strict Code Signing Requirements – Software developers are required to obtain three code signing certificates from Apple before they can be authorized to develop applications and place it in the App Store, thus ensuring secure high-quality apps.
- The Sandbox Feature – This feature limits the application’s access to the data in your device, meaning an app can only access resources and files that are within the scope of its function.
- Limited Processing Capability – This isn’t to say that the iPad has low processing power. It simply means that users are limited to the App Store as far as which applications they can install in their device. The iPad is not like your typical computer where you can easily install any third-party software you find in the Internet. This restriction helps reduce security breaches, and this is why you should never jailbreak your iOS device.
- The Unitasking Attribute – If conventional computers can run multiple applications at a time, which is known as multitasking, the iPad only runs one software at any given period. This means that if a particular application is compromised, which is highly unlikely, the attack is only limited to that specific app and spread to the entire system and the POS.