XP Update for Grocery POS Systems

By Russ Ward

Okay, so April 8th came and went and your point of sale, Windows XP based system, did not explode, implode or meltdown.  As you wipe the sweat from your brow, furrowed with worry, you may think you have permanently dodged the security bullet. But, the risk in keeping the old XP system was never a singular bullet to dodge. The April 8, 2014 date was never meant to be a funeral for a sudden death. The concern was that overtime new viruses would pop up and as no new XP security patches would be available, you could be vulnerable. This fear is based on Microsoft’s plans to discontinue support of the Windows XP operating systems meaning no more security updates and /or patches.  

In the grocery industry due to low margins, a new investment to keep up with technology may be hard to swallow but the alternative could have devastating consequences.  If your system is not in accordance with PCI Guidelines then your customer data has the potential to become corrupt through unstoppable security breaches. 

Not only does this put you and your customers at risk, but it also means that you could be hit with fines. According to pcicomplianceguide.org, the fines will range from $5,000 to $100,000 per month for non-compliance.  Also, transaction fees can be increased and your payment processing company may even terminate your agreement.  This effectively could leave your organization without the ability to take credit and debit cards as well as Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards. That should make you think twice and think fast about a total system upgrade or solution. 

A word of caution, trying to use a duct tape or bailing wire approach may end up costing you more in the long run.  Just because you can get your old system to function on Windows 7 doesn’t cover all of the bases. Each application’s PA-DSS validation must include testing from each and every platform.  In other words, just because it can work, does not mean you are in compliance.  After paying for all of the costs associated with “making it work” you may have to invest in a totally upgraded system anyway. 

The best approach at this time is to find out what your current operating system is and then see if an upgrade is in order. If you still have Windows XP, it more than likely is. Make a plan, consult with your point of sales provider and go ahead with the upgrade. That option is more appealing than running  the risk of fines, negative publicity, additional costs for poorly executed and non-functioning solutions or alienating your customer base.  Keep your data away from the hands of hackers.  It is better to bite the bullet rather than to keep dodging them as viruses pop up.