Spotting POS hacks a matter of vigilance

2014 was the year of retail data breaches, with big-name brands like Michaels, Neiman Marcus, PF Chang's, Staples, Dairy Queen, Goodwill, UPS, Target and Home Depot all making headlines. That's a lot of stores, and a lot of compromised information. Considering there are over 1 billion credit cards in circulation in the U.S., fighting fraud is becoming more important than ever for retailers. 

According to a 2014 LexisNexis study called the True Cost of Fraud, every dollar of fraud cost merchants $3.08 in 2014, with the average merchant suffering 133 successful fraudulent transactions per month. This is a clear indication that the fight against cyber criminals is just beginning. Education is key to spotting and protecting against hack attacks. It also pays to be vigilant.

Malware is created to trick the unwary. Cyber criminals understand that their files will be see, so they make sure to use certain techniques to ensure that they can pass visual inspection. File names will look familiar, digital certificates will look valid and comments in the code with signal that the file was written by a valid company. They may even slip straight through a malware detector and your computer's firewalls. All of this means that, on the surface, malware files often look perfectly safe.

A good trick is to look for files that are out of place, especially those that are in the wrong directory. Basic inspection tools can be used to examine such files and make sure that they are free of malware.

Keeping your credit card processing software updated is a good way to avoid malware that security companies are aware of. Vendors regularly add security upgrades to help protect against newly discovered threats, so make sure your software is always up-to-date.

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