You probably know by now that Microsoft formally stopped supporting its Windows XP operating system in April of 2014. As hardware and software ages, eventually its makers will no longer consider it a viable business tool; this is hardly news.
What you may not know is that there are still nearly a quarter of a billion users actively running Windows XP for home and business purposes – nearly 15% of all users worldwide as of this writing.
While resistance to newer information technology at home often has more to do with the perceived pain of switching to and learning new tools, for small businesses the choice is frequently a simple one of cost. Unfortunately, leaving everything from your financial data to your point-of-sale systems vulnerable to a cyber attack represents a threat that could cost you everything you have worked to build.
If you have made a purchase at a brick and mortar retail store in the last year or two, you mostly likely have noticed major changes in everything from the payment terminals you use to pay with a credit or debit card to the cards themselves. In the wake of the massive hacks at Target and Home Depot in 2013, major retailers were forced to upgrade their systems to offer greater cyber security and protection against fraud. Credit card companies started incorporating microchips in their plastic to guard against data breaches and illegal tools which “piggyback” legitimate card readers to steal financial information.
It took the theft of personal and financial information from hundreds of millions of consumers to spark the recent sea change in security and payment systems upgrades, but reality has hit home. The way we do business is changing as a result, and avoiding upgrades to your company’s hardware and software now leaves you more vulnerable than ever.
As recently as this year, many major retail chains, supermarkets, and other vendors were still using POS systems that ran on Microsoft Windows XP.
Once Microsoft stopped providing support to this older platform, businesses which relied on these systems to process transactions were forced to upgrade – or to face the potentially insurmountable consequences of a major data breach. The cost of these upgrades has been significant for every retailer, but it pales in comparison to the hundreds of millions of dollars retailers lost in the wake of these highly publicized attacks.
Target and Home Depot suffered these attacks, and their customers were robbed of millions of dollars, simply because their point of sale systems were running on – you guessed it – Windows XP. Neither retailer was using a card-and-chip payment terminal system. Had these businesses proactively upgraded to newer systems, some of history’s largest incidents of hacking and fraud could have been averted.
While your business may serve fewer customers than a giant big-box retailer, the threat that outdated information technology poses to your future may be even greater, since you may not have the cash on hand to respond to such a major incident swiftly and appropriately. Now more than ever, it is crucial that you protect your trade secrets, your financial information, and your customers’ sensitive data by upgrading your equipment now, and that you make a plan to continually upgrade proactively.
The cost of these upgrades can be significant, but the cost of not taking action can be far greater. Fortunately, you don’t have to shoulder the cost of important security measures all at once. Through a vendor like TimePayment, you can get the computers, software, operating systems, POS terminals, and other equipment you need right now, and pay for them over time in affordable installments. By leasing this essential technology, you gain much-needed cyber security immediately, and can spread the cost over a safe and profitable future.
To learn more about financing point of sale systems and other critical information technology, the financial products available to you, and how simple it can be to upgrade your business equipment to protect against cyber security threats, contact a representative of TimePayment today.