Target Hackers Snagged Information From Point of Sale Systems

A point of sale system

Target’s recent credit card security breach affected millions. “Hackers stole the credit card numbers of 40 million Target shoppers over the holiday season. And on Friday, the retailer acknowledged that the names, mailing addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of at least 70 million customers were also stolen,” NPR reports. The large-scale theft of personal and monetary information has many worried. While some still sort out illicit purchases with the well-known retailer, others raise concerns about what is (or, more importantly, isn’t) stopping it from happening again.

Hackers Targeted Point of Sale Systems

“It [the data theft] seems to have been taken from two different places. One is from the point-of-sale terminal. That’s the place where you swipe your credit card. They were able to scrape data off of there. And the second place is from inside Target itself; where they store your name, your address, and your email address,” Mark Rasch, former cyber crime prosecutor, told NPR. Outdated magnetic strips may have been to blame. NPR continues, “Industry leaders know magnetic stripes are outdated and easily exploitable. The rest of the world moved on to a more secure, harder-to-hack payment system based on chip-enabled cards — chip and PIN. Chip-enabled cards are more secure because the data on the chip are hidden behind encryption. So even if criminals intercept what’s on it, they can’t reuse it.”

Why Retailers and Pharmacies Need to Be Especially Careful

Target makes it perfectly clear why retailers need to take measures to prevent security infractions. Breaches may compromise millions of consumers’ data and personal information and may ultimately cost companies hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars worth of revenue. Compromised POS systems may also interfere with inventory, making it difficult to track purchases and theft from the store.

Security breaches can be especially problematic for pharmacy POS systems. Pharmacy point of sale software also provides important benchmarks for prescription and refill inventories. Without carefully tracking medications and stock, pharmacies risk prescribing the wrong dosages — or even the wrong medications altogether.

Thanks to the recent Target scandal, American consumers and retailers alike are especially aware of credit card data and potential security risks. Avoid compromised retail or pharmacy POS by updating systems to encrypt data and accurately track stock.

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