Layering Powerful Solutions to Prevent a Data Breach

A recent study from Ponemon Institute shows that 90 percent of data breaches impact small merchants. Given the increasing frequency and sophistication of cyber attacks in today’s world, it is more important than ever for small businesses to understand the costly effects of a data breach and develop an approach to mitigate the risks. The cost of a data breach for a small merchant can be catastrophic. The lost business and resulting liability from such an event can create significant financial losses, but the damaged reputation could be even more difficult, if not impossible, to recover from at all.

By staying educated and understanding solutions and best practices that are available, small businesses can reduce the risk of a data breach with cost-effective options. There are two important steps merchants can take to begin protecting their business and customers’ personal information:

  • Update POS devices: As more markets move towards EMV, which is the technical standard that ensures chip-based payment cards and terminals are compatible, a multitude of devices on the market provides choices for upgrading or replacing POS systems. The First Data Clover Station is just one example. A POS system that is EMV-ready in both the software platform and hardware compatibility can read cards that contain embedded microprocessors, or chips, that interact with the device. Smart chips enable more robust cardholder verification to protect against consumer-level fraud for EMV transactions. EMV helps prevent use of stolen cards.  Businesses of all sizes can’t afford not to take this step.

  • Encryption and tokenization: By layering encryption and tokenization with EMV and POS compatible systems, merchants can minimize security weaknesses and address authorization vulnerabilities. There are two points in the transaction process where data is most vulnerable: pre- and post-authorization. Encryption and tokenization protect the cardholder data once the payment method and consumer are validated. Further, encrypted and tokenized data is of no value to cyber-criminals. It is just a meaningless, unusable string of characters.

Small businesses do have access to world-class solutions that can help them with the responsibility of protecting customers, their business reputation and business sustainability. Those that implement multiple layers of safety measures will be better able to reduce risk and fraud, which is essential to the success of their entire business—and our economy.