What Is Point-of-Sale (POS) Malware and How Can You Protect Your Business From It?

If you are a business owner that uses a POS system to receive payments, you should be aware of point-of-sale malware and its dangers. It is a lesser known malware that is on the rise, and if your system is not protected, you could be at risk.

Malicious actors created the malware specifically to target POS systems to steal sensitive information such as credit card numbers, PINs, and other data. It can be installed on any device that interfaces with the POS system, including computers, payment terminals, and handheld devices.

So what is POS malware and how can you protect your business from it?

What is point of sale (POS) malware?

POS malware is a type of malicious software designed to steal a customer’s personal information through point-of-sale (POS) devices. It does this by collecting payment card data, including debit and credit card numbers, expiration dates, and CVV codes, while the transaction is being processed on the POS machine.

These data can be used for fraudulent purchases or identity theft. POS malware spreads through infected networks or USB devices connected to the POS system and can also be distributed via email or other web-based means.

POS malware can have serious consequences, including loss of customer information and financial loss for businesses.

How does POS malware work?

person with credit card
What Is Point-of-Sale (POS) Malware and How Can You Protect Your Business From It?

POS malware works by targeting weaknesses in the POS system and its associated software. It does this by exploiting vulnerabilities in the system, such as weak passwords or inadequate security measures.

These are the steps a malicious actor takes to perform a POS malware attack.

Step 1: Get access to the device

In the first step, the malicious actor gains access to the target system through a vulnerable network or USB device. This can be done using techniques such as phishing, unsecured Wi-Fi networks, or exploiting simple passwords.

Step 2: Install the malware

Once the malicious actor has gained access to the system, they will install the POS malware on the target device (POS system). This can be done manually or remotely.

Step 3: The malware starts collecting data

Once POS malware is installed, it hides itself in the system and starts collecting payment card data from customers. Collection is done when card data is stored in system RAM. This is the only time the data is decrypted.

Step 4: Harvest the collected data

Finally, the criminal actor will collect the card information collected for fraudulent purchases or identity theft. Sometimes they extract this data to a remote server where it can be sold or used for other criminal activities.

How does the POS system get infected with malware?

swipe a credit card
What Is Point-of-Sale (POS) Malware and How Can You Protect Your Business From It?

POS malware attacks can occur in a number of ways, including:

  • remote access attacks: Attackers can gain remote access to the POS system by exploiting vulnerabilities or using stolen credentials.
  • Phishing email– Cyber ​​criminals can send emails with malicious links and attachments that contain POS malware.
  • insecure wireless networks: Attackers can use insecure wireless networks to gain access to a POS system.
  • USB storage devices: Infiltrators can insert malware-infected USB storage devices into the POS system to infect it with POS malware.
  • Infected software updates: Attackers can also exploit vulnerabilities in software updates to install POS malware.

What are the types of POS malware?

Malicious actors rely on various types of POS malware to attack POS systems and steal customer information. They include the following:

ram scrapers

RAM sniffers collect data stored in the POS system’s RAM, such as credit card numbers or other sensitive information. It is installed on the system and collects data as it is processed. It can also be used to collect login credentials or other sensitive information.

credit card skimmers

Credit card skimmers are physical devices that connect to a PoS device to collect credit card data as it is swiped through the machine. They can connect via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

End-to-end encryption malware

This type of malware targets end-to-end encryption systems commonly used to protect customer data. Attackers use this malware to extract sensitive information from encrypted data while it is being transmitted.

back doors

Backdoors allow attackers to remotely access and control the target system. They can be used to install or remove malware, launch additional attacks, or access sensitive data.

black outlet

BlackPOS is a type of POS malware that specifically targets retail environments. It is designed to steal credit card information from point of sale systems and transmit the data to a remote server.


MalumPOS can be customized and hidden within the infected device as a display controller. Then, it controls the active programs and searches the memory of the infected device for the payment details.


PoSeidon is a type of POS malware that was first discovered in 2014. It is designed to infect POS systems and collect credit card information from customers. PoSeidon installs a keylogger on the hacked device and searches the memory for credit card numbers. After being encrypted, keystrokes, which may include passwords and credit card numbers, are transferred to a remote server.

How to protect your POS system

protect your pos machines
What Is Point-of-Sale (POS) Malware and How Can You Protect Your Business From It?

To protect your business from POS malware attacks, you must take the necessary steps to secure your POS system. Here are some of the best practices to protect your POS system:

  • Develop and implement strong security policies.: Implementing effective security policies is essential to protect your POS system from malicious actors.
  • Implement multi-factor authentication: Using multi-factor authentication can help protect against unauthorized access to the POS system by requiring additional verification steps beyond just a username and password.
  • Ensure network and device security: All devices and networks connected to the POS system must be secure and regularly updated with the latest security patches.
  • Monitor suspicious activity: Be on the lookout for any suspicious activity on your network or in your POS system. Regularly review logs, monitor for unusual behavior, and take immediate action.
  • educate employees: Your employees should receive proper training on the use of POS machines, identifying malicious activity, recognizing phishing attempts, and complying with security policies.
  • Use security software: Installing and regularly updating reliable antivirus software can help protect against malware threats.

Beware of the Point of Sale Malware Threat

Point of sale malware is a growing threat and it is important to take the necessary steps to protect your business from these attacks. By following best practices, such as developing strong security policies and monitoring suspicious activity, you can help ensure that your POS system is secure against malicious actors and that your customers are safe from credit card fraud, such as credit cards.

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