Blog | August 29, 2012

Mobile POS: Don't Overlook These Security Threats

By Mike Monocello, editor-in-chief, Business Solutions magazine
Follow Me On Twitter @monocello

I'm a thief and I prey on retailers.

In fact, since I don't have a real job, I make it my job in life to figure out really creative ways to steal inventory and even cash right out from under a retailer's nose. I'm pretty good at it -- particularly since I have nothing else to do -- but things have been getting tougher. Many retailers have installed cameras that cover the POS terminals and have loss prevention teams that have figured out all of my tricks.

But I see a potential opening. This mobile POS business could present me with some new opportunities and be quite lucrative ...

The concept of giving employees a mobile POS solution to handle transactions anywhere on the store floor is still new to many retailers and solutions providers. Today, early adopters are making the best of subpar wireless infrastructures, using new unproven hardware and software, and have employees unfamiliar with these cutting-edge solutions. Despite the retailer's and integrator's best intentions, such a situation creates the perfect environment for would-be thieves (this includes employees) who can be genius-like when it comes to figuring out ways to swindle.

From a thief's point of view, all of a sudden there's expensive desirable technology like iPads floating around that can be boosted. Wireless networks are popping up, which may or may not be properly secured. Cash drawers are moved and  placed throughout the store to enable convenient checkout from anywhere. Are there HD surveillance cameras being used to watch every area? Probably not.

LP teams have gotten pretty good in recent years at identifying areas and potential methods of loss. Are they ready for all the changes that mobile POS brings? Probably not.

As POS becomes mobile and transactions occur throughout a store, new security methods become very important. If your customers are just now in the "showing interest" stage of mobile POS, or if you're already deploying solutions, make sure you're proactively considering the network and physical security changes required to safeguard the solution.

This is a great opportunity for upsell and proving your value by being a holistic retail IT solutions provider -- and area where your competition might fall short. Plus, the more you can do now to get ahead of plotting thieves, the safer your mobile POS solutions -- and your customer's assets -- will be.

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