Study: 51 percent of POS systems not ready for holiday season

There are few industries can take advantage of consumer trends faster and more effectively than retail. Whether it is a sudden fashion craze created by a sports team playing for a championship or a food trend sparked by a news report, fads come and go and can have major ramifications for businesses depending on if they are able to get ahead of it or not.

This can spread far beyond products on the shelves to affect other areas of business like consumer payment preferences. For instance, the growth of e-commerce is affecting companies across the board. To see the impact of online shopping, look no further than the Monday after Thanksgiving—Cyber Monday.

While it has been an annual tradition since 2005, it is set to break records in 2013. According to an article in CNN Monday, FedEx is predicting a 24-hour period where they will process 22 million shipments. A company spokesman told the news source that this would be the most FedEx has ever done in a single day.

The piece also mentions that e-commerce solutions are growing globally at three to four times the rate of traditional retail sales in brick-and-mortar stores.

E-commerce traffic opens POS systems up to security hacks

While it is clear that the impact of e-commerce makes it an effective solution, it is also catching the attention of the criminal element. It is an especially juicy target because many merchants are unsure how to properly protect their point of sale systems from these kinds of attacks.

According to a survey of 1,100 retailers carried out by the Ponemon Institute, the holiday season carried with it a 55 percent increase in daily revenue. If a merchant was to have their website go down or be hacked during this busy shopping season it could result in a loss of $500,000 per hour or $8,000 per minute. To go a step further, 66 percent of respondents said the number could reach as high as $3.4 million from a single hour if that downtime happened on Cyber Monday.

"This time of year is not just an opportunity for retail fraud, but an opportunity to launch attacks that take advantage of business logic vulnerabilities, DDoS [distributed denial-of-service] attacks, and more sophisticated attacks as well," Demetrios Lazarikos, IT threat strategist at RSA, said in a recent Dark Reading article.

With that amount of money changing hands, it is easy to see why cyber criminals would want to focus on retailers websites and POS software. To make a bleak outlook even worse for merchants, 64 percent of organizations admitted to facing an increase in attack activity during the final two months of the year. However, 70 percent said they do not take extra precautions during this time. To make matters worse, only 51 percent said that their current POS software systems are able to handle the increased traffic that is created during this time.

This shows why it is so important that merchants have an integrated POS software system and properly deploy security practices. By partnering with a payment solution provider that understands how these systems work and what it takes to optimize them, any retailer can ensure it keeps customer information safe at all times, even when traffic skyrockets.

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