Hocker’s offers added credit card security for customers

Date Published: 
February 21, 2014

In light of the recent credit card security breaches that have garnered national attention, Hocker’s Super Center and G&E are addressing such concerns locally at their independent grocery stores.

Coastal Point • R. Chris Clark: Hocker’s Super Center and G&E have installed a new point-of-sale system, which enhances security for their customers, encrypting all information entered through the credit card readers before it gets sent to the main computer to be processed.Coastal Point • R. Chris Clark: Hocker’s Super Center and G&E have installed a new point-of-sale system, which enhances security for their customers, encrypting all information entered through the credit card readers before it gets sent to the main computer to be processed.“We took a look at our system,” said Hocker’s Vice-President Gerry Hocker. “We were already going to upgrade our system in the spring, but we decided to do it sooner.”

As of Monday, Feb. 17, the Hocker’s credit card system has already been updated to meet standards that will go into effect in 2015, to offer better security to their customers.

“Safety was a key factor in doing this,” he said. “I feel very, very confident of the security that we can offer our customers.”

The new system will prevent hackers from using the kind of keylogger virus used in the recent breaches to steal credit card information from card terminals and from carriers.

“The hackers have figured out a way to bypass the virus protection and the actual computer software data that encrypts the data,” he explained. “What the hackers did is figure out a way to attack the PIN-pad itself, before encryption. Keylogger viruses attach to the PIN pad after someone swipes their card. It captures that card number and the keystrokes that happen after the card number, so hackers can capture a card’s PIN number.”

Hocker said that, with the stores’ new security system, such viruses will not be a security issue for his customers.

“Now, everybody’s credit card information is encrypted before it leaves the location to go to a processor. Our terminals now encrypt the credit card data immediately at the swipe, which is really, really cool. The moment the customer swipes the credit card, that information is encrypted, before it’s sent to the back-office software.”

Not only were the stores’ credit card terminals updated, but so were their servers and software.

“There is no chance of the breach, because there is no data stored on-site,” said Hocker. “All the store keeps is the approval number. It was just important to us to offer that next level of confidence for our customers. Plus, we couldn’t take the chance of something like that happening to our small business.”

Hocker said the new credit card terminals will even be able to accept credit cards with microchip security, which is currently not readily available through U.S. banks.

“The magnetic strip on the back of your credit card is 1960 technology,” he explained. “A lot of the European banks already instituted the credit cards with a little microchip inserted into it that cannot be copied. That was already something that was in the works when I started researching the viruses out there, like how Target and Marshall’s got breached. If we start seeing customers who have chips, we’ll be able to accept their cards.”

Hocker said that he and his family did not take the security issue lightly, which is why they moved quickly to improve security in their stores.

“I wanted to feel confident myself but, more importantly, I wanted our customers to feel confident,” he said. “With us having the few stores that we have, we have the advantage of being able to make decisions at our store level, immediately, without having to go through a big process. We knew we could beat our competition to this upgrade.”

He added that now Hocker’s customers can “shop with confidence,” knowing their credit card information is protected.

“Right now, it’s a nationwide problem,” he said of the security concerns. “Being an independent store, we were able to make the decision immediately to do the upgrade and get it done. I think you’ll start to see every retailer start to migrate toward the point-to-point encryption terminals that we have. We’re doing our part in helping people feel confident when they come into our stores.”