Do You Feel Secure?

By  Mitch Morrison, Vice President & Group Editor

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First story: A young Asian man in a tan suit gives a woman a smooch. Moments later, authorities are contacted, and Newark Liberty International Airport is in lockdown. Were it a B-movie, it would be titled, “The Kiss That Closed Newark.”

This episode in January ended harmlessly, but the storyline—a person rushes through an airport terminal, bypassing security because a TSA officer left his post—rippled across the highest levels of government.

Second Story: On March 1, the feds bust a massive entertainment ticketbuying scheme. Wiseguy sold more than 1.5 million tickets to sporting events, theater and concerts, netting $25 million in profits by allegedly cracking the security system ticket sellers use to block online attacks. The hacking let Wiseguy scoop up the best tickets fast and resell them at a hefty upcharge, the feds allege. Such practices have spurred a congressman to introduce legislation tightening regulations for online ticket sales.

Stories three and four are cases closer to home. Three years ago, hackers stole data from at least 45.7 million credit and debit cards from shoppers at off-price retailers, including T.J. Maxx and Marshalls. The case is the largest such breach of consumer information. Arrests were eventually made, but the damage is done. And then in 2009, Heartland Payment Systems, which processes payroll and credit-card payments for more than 250,000 businesses, reported a major security breach that occurred in 2008. The cyber attack prompted a settlement in which HPS agreed to pay up to $60 million to Visa and its issuers that sustained losses from the attack.

So here’s my question: Do you feel secure?

Over the past few years, the convenience and retail petroleum industry has been bombarded with mixed messages. Are demands to upgrade our payment systems necessary or an unwarranted imposition by Visa and MasterCard, our industry’s personas non grata for imposing excessive interchange fees?

In what I believe is one of the most important columns ever published in CSP, Heartland Payment Systems chairman and CEO Bob Carr warns c-store operators that they jeopardize their very businesses by failing to upgrade their payment security platform (see p. 83). No doubt upgrading your sites will come at a cost. For many operators, the final bill will run from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But the alternative is worse—far worse. Imagine customers discovering their debit or credit card had been hacked and that the crime originated from your pay-at-the-pump or instore swipe. Such a hit could potentially cost you millions of dollars and put you out of business. This isn’t hyperbole. This isn’t a scare tactic. This is the real deal.

Speaking of Technology …

It is not too soon to speak about next month’s NACStech event and CSP’s plans to bring you the freshest, liveliest coverage. As we move closer to the May 5–7 event in New Orleans, our veteran technology editor Angel Abcede will deliver several stories in our award-winning e-newspaper, CSP Daily News ( www.cspnet.com), about the hottest subjects in the tech world.

In addition, for our coverage we are partnering with MyCstoreWorld, founded by Wes Stone as the country’s only full-fledged social-business site for c-store professionals. Look for Angel’s posts on MyCstoreWorld ( www.mycstoreworld.com) about critical educational sessions, news from exhibitors and the latest insights.

Angel’s stories are just the beginning of CSP’s ramped-up coverage of hotbutton technology issues affecting our industry. With technology, from POS systems and back-office suites to loyalty and social networking, seemingly advancing at the speed of light, it is our goal to help you maximize your ROI in the most efficient manner.  

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