There are people out there who want your business’s data. They want to lock up your POS system and hold it for ransom. They don’t care about the damage they cause or the stress you will endure when they succeed. As we become more dependent on technology, it shrinks our world and brings these people closer, even if they are on the other side of the planet. Hackers will prey on any easy target, no matter how small and insignificant. To keep these people at bay, here are five tips for keeping your POS system safe from hackers.
Use Antivirus Software
The first tip is very obvious. Have antivirus software installed on your POS system and keep it up to date. Outdated antivirus software doesn’t help as much as you might think. It’s a constant arms race between hackers and security software developers. Without the newest version of an antivirus software, you’re giving hackers an edge on breaking into your POS system.
Hide Web Browsers
Sometimes hackers wait for you to come to them. Clicking on the wrong link on a website is what gets a hacker into your POS system. Often when this happens, it’s not the owner or a manager that makes this mistake, but a bored employee. It’s not reasonable to watch employees every second they are on the clock, but restricting their access to the internet on a POS station will prevent an idle employee from clicking on something they shouldn’t. This is best done by deleting web browser shortcuts from the desktop and toolbars. While you shouldn’t, and on some computers you can’t, completely delete a web browser, adhering to the principle “out of sight, out of mind” will keep your employees out of causing trouble for you.
No Access to Desktop
In the same vein, having a POS software that allows its user to control the computer’s functions, like restart and shut down, within the software without needing to give access to the computer’s desktop, will provide more security and control. If an employee can’t get to the computer’s desktop, then they can’t find the web browser. There are several POS systems for sale that have this feature. Merchant Advantage POS and Total Restaurant POS do the best job of keeping employees out of the desktop.
Lock Down Wi-Fi
It may be good customer service to provide free Wi-Fi for your customers, but if it’s not done correctly, it could give anyone standing remotely close enough to your business a way to access your whole network and POS computers. Creating strong passwords is a must. Do not use the default login that comes with the router, thinking no one will even try. You can ensure tight security by using two completely different routers. That way, no “customer” can ever gain access to the POS system, but this way is expensive. Routers with guest networking have the capability to control the POS system’s network while also providing a completely separate Wi-Fi network for your customers all in one device. In recent years, routers with guest networking have become more commonplace in small businesses and are just as secure as using two different routers.
Beware of Emails
If you have a business, it’s a safe bet that business has its own email. It probably has its own social media accounts as well. It may be convenient for an owner or manager to check the email and update social media using the back office computer, the same back office computer that is directly connected to, and possibly controls, the POS system. Hackers know this and will directly target business email addresses. Their emails will appear to be from vendors, customers, or other legitimate businesses. They want you to click on their link so that they can get into your whole system. To prevent this from happening, use a separate desktop or laptop computer that doesn’t have any POS software or connection on it. If hackers do get in, they can’t go anywhere, or get anything.
While these tips can help keep your POS system safe and secure, your greatest asset in defending your business is common sense. If an email or link looks a little off or unusual, don’t open or click on it. Contact the sender directly to make sure it actually did come from them. Hackers are lazy and go for easy targets; don’t be low hanging fruit. Do your due diligence and any would-be hackers will see that their time is better spent going after someone else. Hackers may want your business’s data, but with these five tips for keeping your POS system safe from hackers, along with common sense, you can ensure they never get it.