Data breaches push industry toward encryption revolution

Last week, representatives from Home Depot spoke in depth about the conclusions of its investigation into a reported data breach at the point of sale. According to the retail brand, malware was used to infect POS systems at brick-and-mortar stores, which in turn has put more than 56 million payment cards’ information at risk. Although the malware has been identified and scrubbed from the POS solutions, the damage has already been done, Business Insurance reported.

Moving forward, Home Depot has pledged to protect customers’ data. As the news source noted, the company has already completed a major security project that will help the retailer encrypt data at the point of sale. Home Depot also installed several other “security enhancements” at the point of sale to maximize the safety of sensitive information.

Encryption becomes the topic of conversation
Although incidents such as this one are without a doubt disastrous for the targeted organizations, there is at least one benefit to be gleaned from these breaches: Payment security and encryption have been at the forefront of POS conversations. Companies deploying these solutions are acutely aware of customers’ fears of data theft and are now being forced to rethink the way they handle payments.

POS Providers also need to consider the rising importance of encryption to the retail industry, as it may lead to new sales opportunities.

“Encryption needs to happen in the terminal hardware and it’s a technology that might have prevented many of these recent breaches,” Chris Camejo, director of consulting at NTT Com Security, told tech publication CRN. “Until now, most merchants look at the price tag of point-to-point encryption and decide not to do it.”

In recent years, the move to adopt encryption at the POS has been rather slow, with some pundits telling CRN it could still take a full eight years for the payment industry to fully implement new technology and infrastructure. Deploying new POS systems can be costly, which has been a major deterrent of faster adoption thus far.

Still, there is nothing more costly to any brand than the loss of their customers’ trust. With breaches such as the Home Depot and Target incidents, many companies will need to consider upgrades now, as if they wait until after they are breached, it will have already cost them quite dearly.