The holidays are a wonderful time for retailers, because sales figures rise and consumers tend to spend more with each transaction. However, more purchases also translate to more opportunities for cyber-criminals to steal customer payment information, so the months following the holiday season are a particularly important time to remain watchful and vigilant about security. 

Cyber-criminals are hacking into store networks and installing malware on point of sale systems. The malware can then steal the payment information in the millisecond after the card is swiped, but before the card's data is encrypted.

This is why retailers have to switch over from the antiquated swipe model to the EMV chip-and-PIN configuration, which keeps all the data encrypted throughout the transaction. Business owners have until October of 2015 to make the change, according to PCI regulations. 

Hopefully this transition will minimize the number of security breaches we see in the New Year, but the problem is that malware is always evolving and becoming more sophisticated.

"This is one of the major reasons why a command and control network is part of commercial malware," said malware expert Kevin McAleavey to CSO. "It gives the controllers the ability to update and replace their malware as soon as it is detected by antivirus software, with improved, and once again undetectable, replacements,"

Hackers are extremely determined, which is why it's so difficult to keep track of the new malware that is constantly being developed. That's also why it's crucial that you make sure your business is operating with the most secure, up-to-date and sophisticated credit card processing software. Your customers deserve to have their information protected, and so do you.