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Protect your POS from cyber attacks
Cashless transactions, which were once considered to be safe and secured by millions of card holders around the world, are in danger of pilfering vital transaction data by unscrupulous hackers.

Over seven billion credit card holders globally are in risk of losing vital card data to fraudsters and cyber-criminals with 2016 going to be a challenging year for cyber security agencies to thwart the increasing attacks on POS installations.

It is estimated that about one billion data records had been compromised through 1,500 attacks in 2014 with more than half of them belonging to the retail industry involving point-of-sale (POS) systems.

India, with more than half a million POS installations for 600 million card holders (credit and debit cards put together) may find the vital card details compromised unless the retail businesses and banks take adequate security measures to make transactions fully secured, feels Bhaskar Venkatraman, founder and CEO of JusTransact.com, an e-commerce marketplace which sells Point of Sale (POS) hardware products to retail and non-retail businesses.

However, painting a grim picture on the growing malware attacks, data security experts predict that industry-wise 'custom malware' will rule 2016 as they are designed to break even the strongest security walls.

Big retail businesses are more vulnerable to be targeted by malware as transaction volume is high here. However, this should not give solace to smaller and start-up firms from such unscrupulous data theft as they don't have sufficient resources to strengthen their POS system, opines Bhaskar, whose website offers tailor-made software support to various POS applications.

With mobile phones transforming retail sector in India, consumers are increasingly buying items through smart phones which can be targeted easily by cyber criminals to steal data and use them for illegal purposes. Digital wallets and online payment services too can be new surfaces for hackers to exploit, feel experts.

So, how to prevent cyber attacks on POS terminals? Retailers should add strong multiple security layers, teach store employees to use POS systems properly and make them learn about the signs and symptoms of possible security breaches to prevent widespread data pilferage.

Looking at the nature and volume of data breaches that occurred in 2015 across the world, it is likely that cyber fraudsters may continue their onslaught in 2016 looking for vulnerable POS systems. With India having scant security systems for POS, the impact will be phenomenal, feels Ravindra Bansal, vice-president, marketing, Malsoft Services.

"As we are heading into the New Year, businesses should implement advanced security systems to secure their POS machines from data and credit card pilferages. Companies can avoid POS attacks if they give highest priority to protect the interests of businesses and customers," he said. He advised shop owners to be extra cautious and monitor their systems and accounts for any suspicious file, entry or activity.

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