POS systems are still being actively targeted by cybercriminals, according to a recent report from Trend Micro. According to the report, cyber assaults started in September, 2015 and are still underway, impacting small business POS systems in the United States and other countries. The targets include health care businesses, retailers, and other businesses that are active card POS users.
The attacks are in some ways classic – the criminals troll the Internet looking for easy targets, rather than assaulting specific businesses. They look for available open ports as their entry point. While the attackers may be sophisticated, they are using a variety of older, proven tools to locate their targets, penetrate the networks, and steal the data. The researchers state the criminals use everything from brute-force password guessing tools and port scanners to remote desktop viewers. Many tools such as these are readily available on the Internet.
Small and midsize businesses with weak network and user passwords are easy prey for these attacks. Once the criminals gain access, they move within the business’ network, looking for sensitive data, email passwords, and social media passwords.
After they access the POS system, they install malware that gathers the credit card information. The researchers report the criminals are using a variety of POS malware, including that which was used for the Target breach in 2013. It is likely they are reselling the valuable information on the black market.
What Businesses Can Do
Small businesses need to review their password practices if they have not done so recently. The end of the year can be a smart time to make sure all employees refresh their passwords with strong, difficult to guess codes.
Businesses should scrutinize their POS network security measures and ensure they are following the best practices identified by the PCI Security Standard Council. The website has great resources for merchants.
Businesses that have been breached should consider notifying the FBI’s complaint website ic3.com to help law enforcement analyze incident trends.
Small businesses will continue to be among the favorite targets for cybercriminals, but if business owners take even rudimentary precautions, they can prevent serious damage to their digital systems and business.
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