Five Ways to Protect Point of Sale Stations and Networks From Cybercrime

It’s easy to use the latest POS security breach as a reason for business owners to ensure their POS systems are protected from cyber-criminals, but the fact is that these kinds of breaches have been occurring for a long time – even as far back as the incredible T.J. Maxx data theft of 2005.

As these kinds of breaches are still occurring, it’s always a good time to remind merchants who rely on POS systems to conduct business that protecting hardware and software from hackers and other cyber-criminals is vital in the effort to protect their business and customers’ data from falling into the wrong hands.

Two Areas of Vulnerability: Hardware and Software

There are two main ways that criminals steal consumer and business data – one is by affixing a physical device or “skimmer” to POS hardware devices in order to capture card data. The other way is by using malware to gain access to POS networks and get credit and debit card data as it passes through.

Cybercrime Prevention for Your Networks and POS Stations

While there is no “perfect solution” to your POS security, there are plenty of best practices that can be used to increase the security of your networks and the data that flows through them. These best practices include:

Maintaining the Most Up-to-date POS Software:

POS software updates often include important security patches that, if not installed, can leave your POS system vulnerable to malware and other attacks that could put your data at risk. Downloading and installing updates in a timely manner will keep POS networks and hardware far more protected than choosing to do updates quarterly or on some other schedule.

Installing a Firewalls and Anti-virus Software to Protect POS Networks:

POS systems are at constant risk of compromise at the hands of hackers, viruses, spyware and other malware that’s been designed to infiltrate and compromise POS systems. Using a firewall and anti-virus software does not guarantee complete protection, but should nonetheless be used as part of an overall protection system that keeps your POS hardware and network secure.

Creating strong passwords and changing them often:

Unfortunately, POS system installers are prone to using default passwords upon initial setup of online payment processing systems for merchants and not changing the passwords to something more secure. Using the default password makes life easy for the installers, but these passwords are fairly easy for criminals to obtain. Using complex, computer-generated passwords and unique account names are highly recommended. It’s also advisable to change passwords on a regular basis.

Denying Internet Access from POS Stations and Terminals:

When you restrict POS computers and terminals from accessing the Internet, you protect them from exposure and potential security threats such as viruses and other malware. POS systems should be connected only for necessary POS activities and should not be used for any general Internet usage. One click on a malware- infected site by an employee on a POS device could be disastrous for a business.

Disabling all Remote Access:

While it’s convenient to allows users such as IT personnel and administrators to remotely access a system without being physically in front of the terminal, cyber-criminals have ways of exploiting remote-access connections on POS systems to access data on these networks. To prevent access to these networks and data, disable remote access to your POS networks.

Doing these five things doesn’t ensure absolute security. However, these five steps will ensure that you are far less likely to suffer an attack at the hands of a cyber-criminal. Aside from these technical precautions, merchants should also be educating their employees about proper use of POS systems and signs that security has been breached.

Solutions Provider Introduces First mPOS App for Windows Phone

The transition from mag stripe to chip & pin cards is scheduled to take place in the US by the end of 2015. With credit and debit card fraud on the rise, chip & pin cards offer more security. Accommodating the new technology will require new mobile point of sale (mPOS) devices. Europe is leading the way with chip & pin cards already in widespread use, and JUSP has met the need for continuously improving mPOS devices.

At the upcoming MWC (Mobile World Congress), JUSP will demo the first chip & pin, all-in-one mPOS solution for a Windows phone. The app is also compatible with a PC. According to JUSP CEO Stefano Calderano, PC integration is important because “we want to give our merchants even more flexibility.” Calderano says that flexibility and maximizing opportunities are the most important aspects in a mPOS solution. They have already had some success, recently signing a large insurance company, who will use the app to sell insurance directly to clients in their homes. This is an example of an untraditional use of mPOS, and the potential for opportunities like this continue to increase. Nokia also chose the JUSP app, from a worldwide selection, for their financial services, which they will demonstrate at the MWC.

About 20 percent of mPOS solutions in Europe are advanced, while 80 percent still use traditional methods. The market changes quickly, from month to month even, and it falls on solutions providers to meet the challenge. According to Calderano, JUSP is talking to several players about expanding. Their main focus is on the merchant market, targeting micro-merchants, but large corporations are also being sought. They are looking at Africa and Southeast Asia, with less competition and a greater range of opportunities. For example, Nigeria and Italy have approximately the same number of cards in use, but Italy has approximately 1.5 million POS machines, whereas Nigeria has about 30,000. They are also “looking closely at what is happening in the US market.” According to Calderano, this is a rare example of where Europe is more technologically advanced than the US, and the emerging opportunities should be taken advantage of. “Even if the switch from mag stripe to chip & pin takes money, it’s a good thing in general,” Calderano claims. The switch to chip & pin “will change the rules of the game.”

What to Expect

The JUSP app for Windows is in the finishing stages of certification and will launch first in Italy in a few weeks. Here’s what you can expect to see in the app:

  • The first screen shows the most popular products, which the merchant can download from the app or from the desktop.JUSP3
  • The second screen provides a space to enter in custom prices, for example, for a taxi, which always has variable prices.
  • The third screen shows the whole catalog with prices, better for small shops or other sellers with fixed prices and inventory.
  • Another interesting option with JUSP is that you can also provide an online shop, with the same prices or different, customized to meet your needs.
  • There will be an opportunity to integrate with existing software.

About JUSP

JUSP (an abbreviation of JUSt Pay), was founded in November 2011 and is a mPOS solutions provider that markets directly to merchants, but also to private contractors. Jusp is a card reader with a chip that can be connected to any smart device through an audio jack or USB. An application, which can be downloaded for free, receives the data and manages the processes. This square device measures around 7cm per side and is very light. At present, applications have been developed for Windows, Windows Phone, iOS and Android.

Hospitals Integrate iPad Kiosks for Streamlined Operations

Hospitals are increasingly looking for ways to reduce labor costs, improve staff efficiency, and provide personal attention to patients without the distractions of data entry and paperwork. A solution embraced by many hospitals across the country is the iPad, loaded with system-specific apps and able to produce information at the touch of a finger.

The most appropriate “accessory” for this great tool is the iPad kiosk, a versatile frame that securely and conveniently holds the iPad in the most appropriate location for hospital staff use. In many instances, it is attached directly to a hospital’s diagnostic computer, where patient data can be integrated into an existing database for a more comprehensive picture of patient status. A floor-mounted stand might hold the iPad for quick patient check-in, while a counter-mounted stand might offer best access for hospital personnel.

One interesting use of the kiosk can be found in the Changi General Hospital in Singapore. The touch-screen kiosk there helps visitors and patients (and possibly new hospital staff) find their way through the facility.

Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston gathers basic patient information via computer prior to a visit to the physician. The doctor can then access the patient’s most current information with an iPad before and during the patient’s visit. This saves time for the doctor, but also for the patient, thus increasing customer satisfaction for the facility and its attending physicians.

New York Methodist Hospital has iPads mounted on kiosks next to EKG and other diagnostic machines. The new system has been embraced by nurses and technicians as a great time-saver; and has proven a convenient tool for doctors, as an access point to all patient data for analysis and diagnosis.

Hospitals across the country, and in many instances, the world, are using the iPad and kiosk to reduce labor costs, improve staff productivity, and allow staff to provide more personal service. Studies, including one produced by Summit Research Associates, have also found that this method would “reduce paperwork and eliminate many human input errors.”

As noted by Medtronic, the iPad offers three primary benefits for use in hospitals: economic, with greater sales productivity, overall cost savings and reduction in waste; clinical outcomes, to help patients better manage their health; and societal impact, to help patients better understand their health conditions and seek the therapies they need. By partnering the iPadwith a secure, convenient and attractive mounting kiosk, the tool becomes an integrated component of a hospital’s operational direction.

Mobile Shopping Solution Streamlines Sales for Event Crowds

Retail stores rarely rely on just one sales channel to succeed. In fact, due to fierce competition from big box retailers and e-commerce giants, survival can depend on creating more sales channels. Whether it’s pop-up shops, a shop on wheels, or selling at events, these additional avenues can be crucial to a retailer’s revenue, but not without some hurdles. Out-of-store sales activities force a retailer to devise a plan when it comes to inventory, payments, and if they’re lucky, dealing with long lines.

Isha is an organization that hosts fifteen major events during the year, showcasing their unique yoga programs and selling yoga-related products during session breaks. With each event attracting nearly 1000 attendees, Isha Shoppe processes hundreds of orders in just minutes. That’s a good problem to have, but the sudden rush of shoppers can create long lines and frustrated customers. So Isha needed a solution to help streamline event sales and ensure their shoppers walk away happy.

Goals

Give shoppers an easier way to shop at events
Most of Isha Shoppe’s annual product sales come from selling at large scale events throughout the year. Isha ships products to the events, creating an on-site “warehouse” to fulfill orders, and sets up a showroom displaying one of every item available for attendees to purchase. During thirty-minute breaks between sessions, shoppers browse the display items and write down the product codes of items they’d like purchase on order forms. Isha staff use these forms to prepare orders for pick-up at the conclusion of the event.ShoppinPal Receipt

Isha Shoppe wanted a faster and easier way for shoppers to submit and staff to fulfill the orders.

Offer fast and secure checkout that decreases wait time
When the day’s events are winding down, attendees who have purchased items from Isha Shoppe stand in line to pay for and pick up their items. Even with multiple registers, long lines form. Isha must process hundreds of credit card transactions and give shoppers their merchandise.

Since session breaks and the windows to shop are brief, some customers want to take more time to shop at the end of the event. But because of the long wait times for picking up items ordered during session breaks earlier in the day, shoppers must get in line to pick up their items before leaving the event, with Isha Shoppe losing these end-of-day sales.

Isha wanted a solution to streamline the checkout process in order to cut down waiting time and capture lost sales.

Solution

Isha uses Vend POS for both its brick & mortar locations and its event sales, and it was important that the solution they chose worked with its existing POS setup.

Isha Shoppe chose ShoppinPal to help streamline both the ordering and checkout processes. ShoppinPal is a mobile commerce app that’s integrated with various POS systems and is designed to enhance the shopping experience inside brick & mortar stores, but can also be used for selling merchandise at events with in-app purchasing and e-receipt functionalities.

Results

Ordering made easy
The display items in Isha Shoppe’s showroom do not have barcodes, but instead have tags with unique product codes. Although ShoppinPal supports barcode scanning, Isha shoppers typed in a product code from an item’s tag to instantly display the product information for easy ordering.

This was important for Isha for a couple reasons: 1) Shoppers didn’t have to manually write down each product code and give it to the staff, which cut down the risk of shopper and staff errors. And 2) instead of processing credit card transactions at the end of the event, shoppers could instantly complete their purchase inside ShoppinPal by taking a picture of their credit card or paying with PayPal. All that was left to do was for the staff to hand over the items at the end of the day.

A streamlined pickup process
Before using ShoppinPal, Isha event attendees ended the day by standing in a long line waiting their turn to pay and pick up their items ordered during session breaks throughout the event. Customers that used ShoppinPal to order their items and pay by phone entered a fast-moving “Express Lane” to simply pick up their bag. Since the shoppers paid as they shopped, the Isha Shoppe staff was relieved of taking credit card payments at the counter, and instead just looked up the customer by name, order number, or event registration number in the point-of-sale system and gave the customer their items.

The last thing attendees want after relaxing sessions offered by Isha is a frustrating checkout experience to end their day. Skipping a long line to simply pick up their items helped mitigate the chance of unhappy customers.

“We use ShoppinPal to speed up the checkout process at events and it works great. It’s like providing our customers a self-checkout register as they are browsing,” said Raajiv Ravi of Isha Shoppe.

Point of Sale System for Farm & Feed Supply

Red Barn Feed & Supply Inc. serves Palm Beach County, located at the heart of a large equestrian area in Florida. Jerry and Betty Case established Red Barn in 1989, originally specializing in horse feed, hay and shavings. Now, as with many farm and feed stores across the nation, Red Barn has grown to provide anything a farmer or his animals might need. Red Barn sells feed, grooming, housing, and bedding products for practically any animal, including house pets, livestock, and exotic pets. They market a wide range of apparel for animal owners, including boots, jeans, shirts and accessories. Red Barn also provides fencing and lawn care products in their now 20,000 square foot retail space.

It is common for farming communities to rely heavily upon their local farm and feed store. For such a business, keeping up with the needs of the animal population and their owners is no easy task. A robust point of sale system suited to the needs of this niche business is central to success. When it comes to the day to day challenges that farm and feed stores face, there are some issues that any retailer must confront: controlling inventory, cash management, customer service, and payment processing. In addition to these common challenges, farm and feed stores like Red Barn have unique needs that require a special breed of POS.

Red Barn Feed & Supply recently upgraded their point of sale to POSexpress by POS Prophet Systems, a fully integrated suite that manages their POS, inventory control, customer management, gift and loyalty, accounts receivable and financial reporting. This case study will demonstrate the ways that POSexpress meets the common demands of retail, as well as the specialized demands of a farm and feed store.

There are five general ways that a farm and feed store such as Red Barn benefits from a well-designed POS system.

      1. Inventory Control

        For businesses such as Red Barn, tracking the thousands of unique products sold, without a POS system, would be time-consuming and tedious. The ability to bar code and scan bar coded items at the POS terminal streamlines the processes of checkout, shipment arrival, and physical inventory time. The reduction in error gives the store owner full control over those processes at all times.

      2. Speed of Service

        Attentive and efficient customer service is key. Especially during peak periods, getting customers through the checkout line quickly helps maintain the existing customer base and makes a good impression on new visitors. A POS system should provide enough speed and accuracy to produce transaction times of one to three seconds.

      3. Customer Accounts Receivable

        Many Farm and Feed stores like Red Barn extend special charging privileges to loyal customers and large farms. The ability to provide internal accounts receivable and invoicing allows for fast and efficient management of all accounts.

      4. Cash Controls

        A good POS system makes daily reconciliation a breeze. Integrated payment processing makes electronic payments error-free, and provides tools to reduce the risk of error for cash transactions. Security features are built in that promote the accountability of every operator and every transaction. Robust reports also help store owners quickly reconcile every till.

      5. Accuracy/Efficiency

        A well-designed point of sale system completely eliminates pricing errors. It also offers real time information so that purchasing and staffing decisions can be based on accurate POS data and intelligent analysis.

In addition to these benefits, farm and feed supply stores such as Red Barn also require their POS to include several unique capabilities.

      1. Integrate a hybrid merchant concept, that would support a mixture of scanned merchandise and services or weighed bulk material. The easy to use touch screen buttons and scale integration provided by POSexpress fulfilled this need.

      2. Include customer tracking for tax exemptions, accounts receivable, transaction retrieval, and tiered pricing based on volume, frequency of visit, etc.

      3. Sophisticated automation in the ordering process. As mentioned above, Red Barn’s inventory includes equipment, supplies, feed, seed, apparel, pet supplies, décor, etc. The ability to monitor and re-stock such a massive array of inventory is necessary for maximizing the ROI on that inventory.

      4. Provide internal communication capabilities. Similar to the way restaurants need to send orders to the back kitchen, a farm and feed store will often process orders at the front of the store (checkout station), while needing to fulfill that order from the back of the store (or the warehouse). POSexpress solves this problem by allowing remote printing to the warehouse, so Mr. Smith’s order of horse feed can be ready to load on his truck by the time he finishes paying.

      5. Strengthen external communication capabilities with email/SMS components, based on POS purchase history, to keep the client base informed and coming back to the store at the right time. Automated POS systems let feed store owners communicate with customers based on the topics and items in which they have already shown interest.

Red Barn’s owner, Beck Hyslop, is pleased with the new POS system. He says, “One thing I’ve noticed is that it is easier to find information, like if I need to find a specific sale, then the new system makes that a lot easier.”

When asked what the most significant difference was for him, he replied, “To me, the most important thing is customer service. With a POS System there is always someone there to help you out. You can call, and someone always answers. They will go in and look at the system with you and help you solve the problem.”