While some businesses still manage to get by with just an old-fashioned cash register, technology is becoming increasingly pervasive in retail, and with point of sale system (POS) technology comes the inevitable security risks.

A new report from security vendor McAfee titled “Retail Reputations: A Risky Business” looks at POS from a security perspective, and identifies the industry’s reliance on third parties for service and support as creating security vulnerability and privacy issues that could put credit card holder data at risk.

“The industry is very fragmented with a large base of smaller merchants utilizing secondary market or used point of sale systems,” said Kim Singletary, director of retail solutions marketing at McAfee, in a statement. “Merchants who do not have a broader security and privacy focus are leaving themselves vulnerable to susceptible systems and processes. If security, compliance and privacy adherence were more transparent to consumers, then retailers could look at these things as business differentiators rather than obligations.”

According to McAfee, POS systems are updated too infrequently, which creates an opportunity for cybercriminals to find and exploit vulnerabilities. It advises retailers invest in a higher level of security, including measures such as application whitelisting, point of sale integrity control and hardware-enhanced security. It also suggests retailers use orchestrated security management solutions for POS systems to reduce the burden of distributed system security monitoring and policy management.

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