Home Depot is now the latest victim of a large scale data breach targeted at stealing customers credit card information which results in identity theft. Home Depot publicly revealed on September 8th that it's payment data systems were breached in both the U.S. and Canada. Although, it appears that Home Depot has not yet confirmed that customer credit card information was comprised. Home Depot apparently found out about the breach from banking partners and law enforcement on September 2nd.
Bottom line, if you are a retailer of any size now is the time to take action to prevent a possible data breach. Believe it or not identity thieves are employing all kinds of methods to obtain your credit card and personal information at the point of sale. If you are using an outdated credit card machine you are the primary target of these thieves. They seek out businesses with old legacy technology and point of sale equipment. In addition, if you are storing credit card information in unsafe ways you could be putting your customers at risk. New legislation being passed through the government will soon place the liability of payment system data theft on the party which has the most outdated technology. For instance, if a fraud was committed from a card that could have been processed in a more secure method with more up to date equipment the liability automatically falls on the person with the outdated equipment. Banks are setting this up so businesses take the responsibility of updating old payment systems to adequate means of protecting card holder data and security standards.
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Technology for payments processing has never moved at a more rapid pace than we are seeing right now. With the introduction of smartphone payments and rapid e-commerce technology, mobile wallets and NFC (near field communication) most hackers and data thieves are now targeting physical POS environments with very noteworthy data breaches occurring at major retailers such as Target and Neiman Marcus (just to name a couple.) What you do not hear about are the smaller data breaches that occur daily at the local businesses we all frequent. Odds are that if you have ever been re-issued a credit or debit card it means that your personal data has been compromised and is most likely being sold to the highest bidder. The information stolen by the thieves not only includes your credit card numbers but also your name address and sometimes date of birth. This is scary stuff! You could literally pump gas at your local station and by the time you finish filling your tank all of your personal information could be stolen.
Why are hackers and data thieves targeting brick-and-mortar businesses?
Most retailers have severely outdated technology and the adaptation of new technologies has been slow due to costs and reluctance to change something that seems to be working. Having outdated technology makes it extremely easy for the hackers and data thieves to steal information from these systems which were most likely created in the 1980's, WHOA! Most credit card processing providers have chosen to invest money in e-commerce and alternative payment systems and leave older legacy systems as is with the old saying "If it's not broke don't fix it." Well, we have finally come to a point that these older systems and terminals are broke in the sense that the data stored on them is not securely stored. By using outdated payment processing equipment you may be placing your business and your customers in the disconcerting position of knowing that your data is available to anyone that simply has the technology to extract it. Remember, your terminal sits on your countertop and can be accessed by almost anyone physically or through a remote signal. Investigators working on data breach cases commonly say that the hackers were able to access the breached systems from the businesses parking lot using the companies WiFi system to penetrate the terminal.
What processing equipment is needed to protect my customers personal data?
EMV chip card technology or a credit card machine that is at lease PCI 2.0 compliant is a good place to start. If the machine on your countertop is currently covered in dust and grease and you can't really remember when you purchased it, maybe sometime last decade, you can be assured that your machine is most likely out of date. Yes, the old reliable machine has worked for many years but now is the time to give it a retirement ceremony and make way for a new system that is better equipped for the changing times.