Small Business Saturday, the day on the calendar completely dedicated to supporting small business between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, is just around the corner.
Last year, U.S. consumers spent $5.5 Billion “shopping small” while 46 percent of independent merchants familiar with the day planned to incorporate Small Business Saturday into their holiday strategy. Here at McAfee, we want to spread awareness and encourage consumers to support local businesses in their area while also ensuring business owners of all sizes protect their most precious resources against malicious threats.
Not only do business owners need to protect their website and online presence this year, but they also need to be on the lookout for the sneaky tricks and tactics criminals are using to steal their sensitive data.
A word of caution to merchants: Criminals are making easy money by targeting connected point-of-sale (POS) systems. POS systems, a.k.a. the checkout to you and me – are the most recent targets of cybercriminals, and a specially-crafted malware, named Dexter, was found in hundreds of POS systems in hotels, restaurants, retailers and even private parking providers. This malware is further proof that all kinds of connected devices may be vulnerable to attack.
Small to mid-size businesses are often seen as easy targets for POS system attacks because they supposedly lack security awareness and implementation of IT security technology. Criminals have access to hundreds of hacker tools made to effortlessly find holes in any vulnerable system. If a business isn’t keeping their software systems up-to-date, criminals will find a way in.
The potential profits for effective cybercriminals propose plenty of incentives to target POS systems. For example: The amount reportedly stolen from sandwich franchise Subway’s POS systems by four Romanian hackers between 2008 and 2011 was $3 million! The hackers took credit card numbers, debit cards, and gift cards from more than 80,000 Subway customers across 150 U.S.-based restaurants, as well as 50 other unnamed retailers, using ‘sniffing’ software to make illegal charges. The criminal behind the attack was sentenced to 21 months in prison in January 2013 for the theft. The remaining three suspects are still awaiting trial.
Don’t Forget Old School Ways Insider Threats and Thievery
Not only does “Main Street” need to protect their POS systems, but also be on high alert for insider threats, and thieves looking to find that “five-finger discount.” Extra traffic will be stirring through businesses this holiday season, so be on guard for sly criminals and remember to lock down any merchandise that would be easy to walk away with.
Please be alert when it comes to security whether it is cyber or physical. Here’s to another successful Small Business Saturday and let this be a reminder to all of us on how important the small-business sector is to our economy and why it’s so important to Shop Small all year around.
Businesses can also take advantage of free tools offered online via www.facebook.com/SmallBusinessSaturday.