7 Ways to Protect Your Business from Point-of-Sale Hacks

Understanding Point-of-Sale Security Vulnerabilities

Point-of-sale (PoS) devices are crucial for modern businesses, offering convenient payment processing, expense tracking, and customer relationship management. However, their widespread use has made them a target for cybercriminals, who exploit vulnerabilities in both the physical devices and their IT infrastructure.

A point of sale (POS) device is a computerized system that processes customer purchases at retail stores, restaurants, and other businesses. It typically includes a cash register, barcode scanner, receipt printer, and credit card reader. The POS device is used to record sales transactions, track inventory, and manage customer data.

Remote Point-of-Sale Hacking

Remote point of sale (POS) hacking is a type of cyber attack that targets the payment systems of retail stores. It involves exploiting vulnerabilities in the POS system to gain access to customer data, such as credit card numbers, expiration dates, and CVV codes. The hacker can then use this information to make fraudulent purchases or sell the data on the dark web.

Types of PoS System Hacks

PoS systems, often with minimal security features, are vulnerable to various attacks:

  • Network Attacks: This cyber attack targets a POS system connected to a network. The attacker can gain access to the system and steal customer data, such as credit card numbers, or manipulate the system to commit fraud.
    • Tip:  Separate your PoS network from your main business network to prevent a domino effect in case of a breach.
  • Brute Force Attacks: An attacker attempts to gain unauthorized access to a POS system by using a large number of different username and password combinations. The attacker will typically use automated tools to try to guess the correct credentials and, if successful, can gain access to the system and potentially steal sensitive customer data.
    • Tip:  Use complex passwords and change them regularly to defend against these attacks.

Recent Incidents:

  • In 2023, a major retail chain experienced a network breach, leading to unauthorized access to their PoS systems. This incident underscores the importance of network segmentation and robust cybersecurity measures.
  • A renowned hotel chain suffered a data breach through its PoS systems, highlighting the need for continuous monitoring and advanced threat detection capabilities.


Physical Endpoint Hacking

Physical endpoint point of sale (POS) hacking remains a significant threat. This type of cyber attack targets the physical hardware used in retail stores to process payments. This attack involves physically tampering with the POS system, such as inserting a malicious device into the system or using a stolen card reader to steal credit card information. The goal of this type of attack is to gain access to sensitive customer data, such as credit card numbers, expiration dates, and security codes.

Recent Examples:

  • In early 2023, several small businesses reported that their Point of Sale (PoS) terminals were being tampered with, leading to significant financial losses. This incident highlights the crucial need for physical security measures to be implemented alongside digital protections.
  • In another case, a well-known electronics retailer was hit by a sophisticated malware attack on their PoS systems, which went undetected for months. This case underscores the importance of regular system updates and security audits to prevent such incidents from occurring and to detect them as soon as possible in case they occur.

7 Ways to Protect Your Business from Point-of-Sale Hacking

Small businesses are often the prime targets for PoS hacking because they may not have the same level of security as larger companies. A single PoS breach can result in the theft of customer data, including credit card information, which can lead to legal action, fines, loss of customer trust, and reputational damage. Small businesses that fail to protect their PoS systems can face significant financial losses and may struggle to recover. Therefore, it's essential for small businesses to prioritize PoS security and take proactive steps to prevent hacking attacks. 

  1. Encrypt:
    Use strong encryption to protect data at the endpoint.

  2. Default Settings:
    Always modify the default settings of new PoS systems.

  3. Complex Passwords:
    Implement and regularly update complex system passwords.

  4. Secure Wi-Fi:
    Ensure all network connections are secure and private.

  5. Lock-Out Mechanisms:
    Use lock-out systems after multiple failed login attempts.

  6. Siloed Operations:
    Restrict PoS devices from accessing unnecessary internet or applications.

  7. Regular Updates:
    Stay updated with patches and software updates from manufacturers.

Considering the evolving nature of cyber threats, it's also crucial to consider partnering with a reputable IT firm for regular assessments and security updates.


Point of Sale (PoS) systems have become essential for modern businesses. However, ensuring their security requires continuous effort and attention. By understanding the vulnerabilities and implementing robust security measures, you can protect your business from potential threats. Invest in the future of your business by hiring a reputable IT company to assess your system and identify your existing security risks. Request a free business IT consultation today.