Is your credit card information at risk when you visit your local retailer? We all would like to believe that our local retailer or favorite restaurant is keeping your personal and credit/debit card information secure and out of the hands of those who want to commit fraud against many honest people doing business today. This is what I thought once I received my Visa bill one month to see $1,500.00 of liquor purchases and pizzas on my monthly statement. I was a victim of Credit Card fraud.

According to a number of industry experts, smaller business and retailers are not taking the required steps to ensure that the credit and debit card purchases made by their patrons are secure. Even today, credit card information is still being stored on local computer systems that are not protected or up to date. Many small businesses are failing to protect their networks with firewall solutions that can protect retailers from trojans and other malicious code from being installed on systems because of inappropriate web surfing being allowed in smaller retailers or attempts at stealing information via wireless connections or over the Internet.

Until recently, the payment card industry’s training was not up to par to educate small business merchants in what it took to ensure their transaction information was occurring in a secure manner. As of the end of July 2007, Visa USA has started to require that some 250 or so credit card processors begin to share their plans to ensure that all credit card transactions happen in a secure manner.

In May of this year, the State of Minnesota passed the Plastic Card Security Act. The act clearly states that any business that wishes to do business in Minnesota must comply with the regulations around storing credit card information. The law took effect in August and holds the business owner and business liable for the costs associated with breaches or fraudulent transactions.

Why does credit card still occur in today’s world?

oLack of knowledge – Many small business owners, retailers and restaurant owners are busy in their day to day businesses (working in their business and not on their business) and not up to speed with the current regulations to secure their patrons information from unauthorized use.

oOut of date systems – Many smaller based businesses do not have the resources to keep their computer systems up to date to ensure that credit card numbers are not stored on systems or they run older versions of software that does not offer the encryption needed when processing credit or debit transactions.
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oLack of perimeter security – I have seen this many times in small business, they fail to secure their systems with a robust and scalable firewall solution. They usually plug their Internet connection right into the back of their computer and do not employ a proper firewall solution or they purchase a router from their local office supply store that has no unified threat management security built into these devices. Firewalls such as the SonicWALL TZ180 will ensure that restaurants, retailers and small business are secure from threats on the Internet today, protect from network intrusions, spyware and virus attacks and inappropriate Internet use.

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