5 PCI Threats All Credit Card Merchants Should Avoid

    • 1025 posts
    April 2, 2023 8:43 AM EDT

    Since all merchants who accept credit cards (even if the number of transactions per year is 1), must be in compliance with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS), it's in their best interest to know some of the facts. One thing we know for certain - PCI is not going away. Because a merchant can be fined for not being in compliance, it's far better to be proactive now, than it is to regret it later.

    So let's take a look now at a few of the problems a merchant must be willing to address in order to provide a secure environment for their customer's data.

    5 Key Areas of PCI Threats:

    terminal at point-of-sale (POS)
    phishing
    skimming
    SQL injections
    storing of card data
    Next is a brief definition of each area.

    1. Terminals: the vulnerability regarding terminals is when data is transmitted from your location to your acquirers server. However due to today's advanced technology that's something you needn't spend too much time worrying about. Today's manufacturers have their own PCI standards they have to adhere to in production. Most of the terminal issues come from older, non-compliant hardware. For the most part this has been dealt with already either through replacements or upgrades.

    What makes you the most vulnerable with your terminal is the ability of data thieves to either attach or insert a device that can intercept and capture data without you even being aware of it.

    Never let anyone do any work or maintenance on your equipment without verifying with your processor it needs to be done - and only allow someone your processor endorses.

    You also need to remain aware at all times where your terminal is and who has access to it. An Albertson's grocery store actually had pin pads swapped out in several checkout lanes without their knowledge, and thieves were intercepting debit card information from customers.

    If you process online you also need to make sure you're using PCI approved software.

    CAUTION: It's easy to be complacent about, or even annoyed at PCI requirements - but it's critical to take whatever precautions are necessary and be prepared. Being a victim of theft is a lot like accidents. You don't see them coming, and you don't think it'll ever happen to you!

    2. Phishing - Phishing is the never ending process of crooks trying to trick you into revealing sensitive, personal information (e.g., account numbers, social, personal details, etc.) For the business owner they have more than their own personal data to credit card hack software be concerned with. They also have service workers, employees with access to files (on and offline, etc.)

    Sensitive information can be stolen from files, verbally over the phone, by text message, email, voice mail - you name it! Especially be on guard when you receive an email asking for sensitive information - even when it appears to be from someone you know and trust. I've gotten spam that appeared to be from a friend until I opened it and read it.

    When I told my friend about it he said somehow his computer had been hacked into and the hacker got the email address of everyone in my friends contact list and sent them the messages. What a racket.

    3. Skimming - Skimmers use a small device, approximately the size of a credit card, that can be placed in an ATM slot and capture and store credit and debit card information. They also use hidden cameras to record cardholders PIN numbers. With all their ingenuity why can't they go get a real job? I guess it's not as exciting.

    So, if you have an ATM machine on the premises, and you have a high traffic location (actually even if you don't), it's never a bad idea to keep an eye on it and look for anything that seems added or out of the ordinary.

    4. SQL Injections - SQL means "structured query language", and it's a concern for businesses that store information in databases. Basically SQL is a computer programming code which can be written into a webform (e.g. in login pages) enabling the programmer to hack into any system and steal data.

    The bottom line is you can't take anything for granted. This could very well be the method that was used on my friends contact list. Again, only use PCI compliant software, and don't store anything you don't have to. Which is a the perfect lead-in to my final point (for this article anyway).

    5. Storing Card Data Or Customer Information - It's hard not to keep information somewhere, in some file. Business owners especially have reams of information to protect. This includes invoices in storage, HR employee files (even applications for employment have sensitive data a thief would love to get his hands on), and various forms of customer information which is almost impossible not to keep somewhere. And again, that means on and/or offline. This is all in addition to cardholder information. Yet to the thief - it's valuable information to have when counterfeiting cards or having new ones sent to them in the mail.

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