Mar 13 2015

6 Ways to Protect a POS System

The first public disclosure of the point-of-sale malware known as Backoff was made last July by the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team.

In a report released late last year, RSA confirms that Backoff, which targets mostly U.S. companies, has compromised more than 1,000 businesses. The malware harvests magnetically encoded data from credit and debit cards swiped at POS stations.

RSA recommends six mitigation steps:

  1. Reduce the attack surface. Allow Internet access only to sites and individuals placed on a whitelist. Block unnecessary services. Replace default passwords with strong, complex passwords to guard against dictionary attacks. Never allow authentication without a password. Always apply software security patches from known, reliable sources.
  2. Deploy EMV technology. EMV stands for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, a global standard for authenticating sessions on a POS system or ATM. RSA says EMV won’t prevent breaches, but it can make your company a less tempting target, reducing risk for you and your customers.
  3. Apply point-to-point encryption. This is the strongest and most effective mitigation strategy. With P2P encryption, all sensitive information is encrypted starting at the entry point on the swiping device.
  4. Use device and network monitoring solutions. Network monitoring watches over employee endpoint devices and monitors the enterprise network while enhancing and enriching perimeter protection.
  5. Follow PCI DSS regulations. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard is a set of industry-accepted policies and procedures for securing electronic transactions. While it does not guarantee full protection, it incorporates baseline standards for storing sensitive payment information.
  6. Deploy two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication requires both a physical token and a security password. Using it across the entire network reduces the risk of compromise.