Information security is all over the news this week. The rampant Heartbleed SSL vulnerability has corporations and businesses scrambling to ensure their data systems are safe and secure. This widespread security flaw has affected the most popular consumer sites including Facebook, Yahoo, Google and many others, leaving security experts to question long-standing methods and consider more advanced industry standards to handle the onslaught of potential hackers. The sheer number of people on the Internet today makes data security an imperative, and industries that require special attention are retail, grocery and restaurant establishments that handle a high volume of sensitive consumer information each day.
To make matters worse, this week Microsoft also ended support for Windows XP and many don’t realize how many retailers and restaurants around the globe rely on this platform to conduct business. Did you know that currently over 30% of point-of-sale computers within the retail and hospitality industries currently run Windows XP, not to mention over 95% of ATM machines? From this day forward, computers running XP are vulnerable to security threats, viruses and hackers. While the IT industry is well aware of the end of XP, the retail and hospitality industries including grocery stores, mom-and pop shops, restaurants and even big-box retailers don’t yet know their systems will be compromised. Truth be told – all businesses currently running XP will be susceptible to security leaks and hackers.
The recent Target and Neiman-Marcus security hacks has left the industry paralyzed, but now more than ever is the time for companies to arm themselves with actionable information to prevent this from happening again. If retailers and restaurants don’t upgrade or switch their POS solutions, the mass credit card breach could become the norm. Point-of-sale company Revel Systems urges all retailers to prepare for the end of XP by asking their POS system providers what their options are. Silence will result in the loss of millions of dollars.
By Chris Ciabarra, Security Expert, CTO and co-founder of Revel Systems