According to Dell's Annual Threat Report online and offline commerce are increasingly under threat from malicious programs, with point-of-sale (POS) software suffering under a startlingly large amount of new malware strains.

It seems that the same breaches that tormented retailers in 2014 are back this year. Data has been comprised from health insurance agencies, food chains and grocers, leading some third-party POS device manufacturers to launch investigations into their own devices.

According to Dell, retail is the only industry where companies are devoting more financial resources to ensure compliance with security protocols than to protect against hackers, creating an unbalanced focus that leaves the door open for breaches.

Here are a few more data points Dell's security report covers:

  • Increase in POS malware attacks: Dell SonicWALL Threat Researches created 13 malware signatures to combat threats at the point-of-sale, in comparison to just three signatures in 2013. This suggests that cyber criminals are launching attacks on a larger scale, which is why there was such a dramatic increase in retailers least year.
  • Criminals target U.S. retailers: The American retail industry was the target of most attacks. Home Depot and Target serve as examples, having suffered the largest POS breaches in history, which Michael's and Staples close behind. 
  • POS attacks are evolving: New breeds of POS malware tactics emerged in 2014, including memory scraping, the use of encryption to avoid detection by firewalls and self-updating programs. Continues monitoring is more important now than ever.

While it seems like this is a losing battle against malware, the truth is that all it takes to protect from breaches is to take some simple security steps. To best protect customers, retailers should make sure their credit card payment software and network security infrastructure is always up-to-date.