Unsecured Wi-Fi is the Unlocked Door 2.0 - Heartland Payment Systems

Monday, July 06, 2015

Granting unsecured Wi-Fi is like leaving the front door of your business open long after closing time—trusting that no one will steal from the store. You would never leave for the night without locking up, so it’s critical to do the same with your Internet access.

With the advances in today’s technology, most folks have come to expect free Wi-Fi just about everywhere they go. In fact, you may have implemented this service in order to attract and retain customers. But if your network is not secure, it leaves that virtual door wide open to hackers—potentially wreaking havoc on your operations.

It’s become common for some small business owners to buy Wi-Fi routers and set up their own wireless connection. But if the POS and guest Wi-Fi are located on the same network, there is the serious risk of hackers stealing sensitive information. Using a “do-it-yourself” router may not ensure traffic is entirely safe.

A strong, segmented Wi-Fi—keeping the business and guest connections independent of each other—is the best defense. Securely separating payment transactions from all other network traffic—physically and virtually—is a key component of Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) compliance.

Hackers continue to figure out more creative ways to breach systems. Securing a network requires consistently making the proper updates to protect against threats. Optimal service would block the most offensive websites and sources of malicious activity. Blacklisting websites and being able to control activity on the network is an effective way to stay one step ahead of an attack.

And protecting your customers connected to your Wi-Fi is just as important as protecting your business’s data.

One of the most sinister Wi-Fi schemes is called a “man in the middle attack.” In this scenario, hackers set up a Wi-Fi network designed to dupe customers into thinking it is the business’s legitimate site, then capture and exploit their sensitive data.

So what exactly can you do to protect your customers—and your business—from these cybercriminals?

When setting up a Wi-Fi router, the number one priority is to create a customized network password. Keep in mind that one of the most overlooked security precautions is changing the router’s default administrative password. Default passwords for almost every router can be found online effortlessly by hackers, making their job a lot easier.

Make sure that the password is tough to crack. Steer clear from adhering to the minimum requirement of eight characters. When dealing with security, the minimum is never enough. A lengthy, strong passphrase makes fraudsters do double—or even triple—the work to breach the system.

The safety of a network also relies heavily on your general security. All these system precautions can be completely useless if unwanted changes—such as restoration to factory settings—can be made to the physical router. It is important to keep the router in a locked room or cabinet and staunchly restrict access to it.

These simple provisions can go a long way in protecting any business. But if you are looking for a turnkey way to achieve system security and stability, you may want to investigate implementing a managed network service from a trusted provider.

Heartland’s SmartLink can help you connect and manage all of your devices and keep credit card acceptance processing over the Internet, with the added benefit of U.S.-based customer support.

SmartLink’s secure network management links your business to the outside world by providing tools and services to increase your productivity. Whether you need PCI-compliant payment processing, reliable network communications, public Wi-Fi access or multifunction firewalls, SmartLink is a solution you can count on.