If you’re not worried about online security, you should be.
The internet can be a big, scary place. With so much business conducted online, there’s a genuine risk that your data will be compromised. We’ve discussed general 2019 cybersecurity trends, but not all of them are applicable to e-commerce or m-commerce. And you’ve probably heard of several major businesses experiencing data breaches over the last few years. Equifax’s 2017 breach, for instance, affected 143 million Americans, exposing their data to the potential of fraud, identity theft, and more.
But mobile data is no more secure than any other data. Phones and tablets are just as vulnerable to virtual attacks as any other device that can connect to the internet.
So how do you, as a responsible business owner using an mPOS, keep your data and your customers’ data secure?
Unfortunately, you can never be completely secure. But you are by no means helpless. There are many precautions you can take and solutions you can leverage to improve your data security.
Why you need mobile security
If you’re using an mPOS, there are many benefits to housing a once-stationary system on mobile technology. A major advantage is the ability to conduct business anywhere with a Wi-Fi or data signal. But access to the internet (and doing business where credit card information is exchanged) opens you up to the potential for fraud and stolen data.
Mobile security 101 for mPOS
- Make sure the devices housing your mPOS are locked when not being used
- Do not download extraneous apps onto the device housing your mPOS unless totally necessary
- Use the security settings on the device
- Use secure Wi-Fi as much as possible
- Use an mPOS or payment gateway with built-in encryption and security
Unless you run a cash-only business that records in solely pen and paper, your data is at risk.
How to get started protecting your data and your customers’ data
There are several potential directions when approaching mobile security. You will need to determine the strategies that work best for you. The main concerns you need to address are the security of the mobile device, the security of the network, and the security of the software tools.
Make sure the devices housing your mPOS are locked when not being used
This is good advice in general. Any mobile device that holds sensitive information should be locked when not in use. This goes double for devices that hold financial information or customer data. For added security, use settings that obscure the pattern or digits used to unlock the device so it’s more difficult for an onlooker to simply look over your shoulder and see your password as you put it in. To put it simply: Don’t be Kanye.
Do not download extraneous apps onto the device housing your mPOS unless totally necessary
Many apps can access data on your phone or tablet once they are installed, so it’s wise to avoid apps with dubious security. This becomes more difficult if you are using a personal phone as an mPOS system, so be aware which apps you are using and what permissions they have to access data on the device. Also be aware where your mPOS data is stored, whether it’s on the device itself or in the cloud. Apps that can access a device’s data may not be able to access the cloud, so be cautious.
Use the security settings on the device
Many phones and tablets have some form of built-in security. That may be an antivirus service or a means to clean up unnecessary data. If your device has any form of security, you should take advantage of it. Some security may require a subscription with an additional monthly fee, so you should factor that into your budget.
Use secure Wi-Fi as much as possible
We’ve all heard about the dangers of unsecure Wi-Fi. But there’s truth to the warnings: Anyone can access an unsecured network. And if they really want to, they can access your connected device. If you want to keep your data safe, avoid unsecure Wi-Fi if at all possible. And if you can’t avoid it, don’t send payment information. Make sure your device is as locked down as possible.
Use an mPOS or payment gateway with built-in encryption and security
Companies building mPOS software and payment gateway software are held to similar standards as your business, so it’s in their best interest to build security measures into the software itself. When researching POS software, investigate the security offerings that are included to see how they can work with your existing measures. Most payment gateways include encryption for the transmission of credit card data, but the POS itself should also have some security.
Why mobile security is important
You may think that some degree of data insecurity is the price of doing business, and you’re partially right. But taking zero precautions will only hurt you and your business in the long run.
You may lose money
Fraud and theft are the two major concerns with online security, and not protecting yourself from both will only lead to lost revenue. While extra precautions may cost you money in the short term, it’s worth protecting your future earnings. Online security measures are like insurance: Yes, you have to pay for it, but it has the potential to save you thousands if not millions of dollars. And most mobile data security software requires very little maintenance or work on your part.
You may lose customers
No one likes having their data or money stolen. Customers will be rightfully angry if they find out that your business’ lack of protection against hackers was to blame in a security breach. Trust is extremely important in retail, so losing it may mean losing customers. And, if customers determine that you’re at fault for putting their data at risk, they may pursue legal action against your business. Lost customers and long legal battles all add up to lost money.
See our guide on retail in 2019 to learn more about the different types of retail, industry software, and the future of retail.