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February 1, 2019

Hacking point of sale devices – the forgotten treasure

• Jason Jordaan | Principal Forensic Analyst
• DFIRLABS (Pty) Ltd | @DFS_JasonJ | [email protected]

The festive season is upon us and the craziness that accompanies it as people rush out to buy gifts for their loved one. It is the busiest time of the year in the retail sector, and it is also the busiest time of the year for cybercriminals hoping to make some easy money. While the online shopping environment is thriving worldwide, people still have a visceral experience from shopping in the real world, and over the festive season, this can be seen in shopping malls and outlets around the world. While we focus much of our information security efforts in securing online shopping, we often do not spend the same amount of effort in our in-store systems. Most shoppers these days prefer to pay for their purchases with either a credit or debit card, using point of sales systems. We sometimes forget that these systems are part of our information networks and need to be well protected. The fact that these points of sales systems process significant amounts of card data, means they are a prime target for cybercriminals who steal card information for sale to other cybercriminals. Unfortunately, they are often not well protected from cyber-attacks, which have included the infection of these devices with malware which targets the card data. The biggest such incident was the Target breach that has cost almost $300 million to date, but smaller breaches occur daily and hardly even make headlines. The bottom line is that if you accept card payments and you use point of sale devices, you need to ensure that they are secure and protected or potentially face becoming a victim.
So, what can you do to avoid becoming a victim of point of sale hacking?
Find out exactly how your point of sales systems integrate into your existing network and identify all potential connections to them.
Constantly monitor all data packets going to and from your point of sales systems to identify anomalous traffic.
Ensure your point of sales systems are constantly up to date and patched.
Conduct a cybersecurity audit or vulnerability assessment against your point of sale and connected systems.
Have dedicated cybersecurity resources on staff or partner with a dedicated cybersecurity partner.
Until next issue, stay safe, and safe shopping (and selling).