I can make up words about most stuff we carry at POSGuys, primarily because the products are pretty similar to each other. Once you’re familiar with the different styles of barcode scanners it’s pretty straightforward to get a bead on where a new one fits. The MagTek Centurion secure card reader authenticator, and other new MagTek MagneSafe products, are a bit outside of my element, so they’ve taken me a lot longer to build up cheeky prose on their capabilities.

These card readers were made in response to the growing importance of PCI compliance and ensuring customer credit card data integrity is maintained. PCI compliance is a standard created by the Payment Card Industry (ooh, PCI) to help businesses identify potential weak points in their data security, and give some best use techniques to avoid data theft. After what happened with TJ Maxx and Heartland Payment, it became even more important to prevent this information from getting into the wrong hands.

For most card readers, the data is sent as plain text to the credit card processing software, which is then encrypted and fired across the internet to the credit card processing company. Unfortunately, the credit card processing software can be on computers used for myriad purposes, including trawling MySpace for new friends. This creates a vector for malware and other assorted nefarious apps to capture this information. The MagneSafe system is a hardware encryption scheme so that, if someone were to steal the data, they get gibberish instead of sweet, sweet credit card numbers.

What’s really great about these units specifically is that you can buy them unencrypted now, and if/when your credit card processor does support encrypted transmission, they can remotely reprogram the reader to match their encryption methods. So you don’t have the downtime of shipping it off to be programmed, and if something happens where you change processors, you’re still in luck.

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