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Small stores beefed up their own security after the Target hack

File photo: The sign in front of a Target store in Novato, Calif.
File photo: The sign in front of a Target store in Novato, Calif.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Big retailers had to put many new security measures in place when hackers stole the personal info of millions of their customers, last year.

But mom and pop stores shouldered a lot of the burden, too.

"I started thinking, 'How do we safeguard ourselves?'" says Mike Daniel, owner of the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Co. store in Long Beach. "How do we take those same types of steps to make sure we're not at risk for the same types of problems that Target's having?"

Security expert Mary Ann Miller from the firm NICE Actimize says small stores around the country had to install new card readers.

"The expense for updating every terminal," she says, "that's a big expense for all the retailers and all of the banks, especially the small businesses."

On the other hand, Miller says things can be more nimble with change.

"They have one checkout terminal and they have one or two highly trained staff," she says. That means less training involved to get employees up to speed.

Daniel says his store also changed some key ways they operate to make them less liable if a customer's info is stolen.

"We've stopped taking phone orders where we're taking down credit card numbers," he says. His store also installed a card reader at the counter so customers swipe their own card instead of an employee: it means that the card doesn't change hands.

"Definitely, it has affected our business," says Daniel. However, the risk of being at the center of a hack is too great for a small business like his.

You can also read  previous installments of the series on identity theft, how a credit union deals with security and a company that hunts down hackers