Retailers must beat off hackers to safeguard their businesses

Retailers who install Wi-Fi networks to connect in-store POS and staff devices, as well as provide free Wi-Fi to customers, are increasingly vulnerable to cyberattacks that could impact their businesses, says Vodat International, the network security provider to the retail industry.

Data breaches are on the increase at retail businesses. According to one report*, at least 15 retailers were hacked and likely had information stolen from them since January 2017. Many of these were caused by flaws in payment systems taken advantage of by hackers. Another study** revealed that 19% of consumers would stop shopping at a retailer after a breach and 33% would take a break from shopping there for an extended period.

In its new Security Guide, Vodat outlines some of the tactics used by hackers to infiltrate Wi-Fi networks - and how retailers can fight back against them. Paul Leybourne of Vodat International explained: "Without sufficient security, hackers can access a Wi-Fi network and monitor data traffic, disrupt transactions and even launch a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack, stopping a store from trading altogether. Hackers can also set up a fake Wi-Fi hotspot on-site, tricking both staff and customers into logging on so that personal details, including identities and passwords, can be accessed."

For retailers to secure their Wi-Fi networks, Vodat recommends:

  • Go beyond simple passwords: multi-factor authentication such as tokens and push notifications sent to mobile phones are significantly more secure than traditional password access to Wi-Fi networks.
  • Divide and secure your network: make it difficult for hackers to move around if they manage to breach your Wi-Fi system. For example, if they've accessed data stores this should not automatically give them access to a POS system. Each part of a system should be secured in isolation.
  • Use automatic monitoring: deploy software that can automatically monitor your network, looking for suspicious activity or strange data flows. Once alerted you can stop a potential attack before damage is done.
  • Educate employees: staff awareness of security issues and processes is a vital part of any strategy. Undertake regular training to ensure all understand what is expected of them.

Paul Leybourne added: "The PCI Security Standards Council recommends the use of a Wireless Intrusion Prevention System (WIPS) to automate wireless network scanning. This layer of security is also useful for monitoring network performance, and discovering access points with configuration errors. Vodat's WIPS can scan a LAN network's radio spectrum looking for rogue access points set up by hackers to enter a system. It can also spot excessive personal Wi-Fi use by employees, which can trigger security issues."

* Source: Business Insider
Source: **KPMG

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